The morning break didn’t stay away, but we did get a solo winner like I predicted would happen if the early break was reeled in. Except, I don’t think I would have ever envisioned that it would be Aru who would squirrel off the front!
A group of 8 strong riders got away after the KOM point. Their gap yo-yoed but stayed roughly around 10 seconds. However, they stopped co-operating fully on the plateau and Aru made what seemed a fool-hardy attack off the front. And that was it. A hairy descent allowed the Italian to even increase his gap, with enough left to celebrate as he crossed the line 2 seconds ahead of the pack.
Let’s look ahead at tomorrow’s stage!
Another rolling day in the saddle for the riders, but nothing too extreme!
With the sprinters not getting any joy today, then this looks to be a nailed-on sprint tomorrow. The finish itself will be another messy one.
The organisers seem to enjoy putting a few roundabouts in the final 5kms. After today’s roundabout at 300m to go, we get one tomorrow at around 900m left. Positioning as normal will be key. However, it’s not a flat sprint, the final km is all uphill.
If you want to look at the final km on Google Streetview, click here. Take the left at the roundabout and follow the road round from there.
The gradient isn’t too severe. Using the above profile, it’s safe to assume a 26m vertical over the final kilometre, which makes it a 2.6% gradient on average. Nothing overly challenging (as you can see on Streetview) but it definitely changes the sprint.
Similar to the forecast all week really. Warm but with a chance of a thunderstorm and showers. Luckily, it’s not rained so far this week, will it change tomorrow? Who knows?!
The type of sprint tomorrow will mean that a few riders might fancy their chances more than on Monday. This is because the gradient will neutralise the raw speed that some of the riders have.
Bouhanni and Kristoff will still probably start as favourites and rightly so. However, in this type of power sprint you’d probably have to favour the Norwegian. As we saw on Monday, Bouhanni won’t go down without a fight. He just needs to keep his head!
I’m not going to go through all of the sprinting options again, considering almost every team has some type of sprinter at the Dauphiné. Have a look at my stage 1 preview if you want a list of them all! Like other previews, I’m going to pick a couple of sprinters who could challenge the main guys.
First up is Edward Theuns. The Belgian has really stepped his game up after his move from the Pro-conti talent conveyor belt that is Topsport Vlaanderen, to Trek Segafredo. He’s showed that he can match the best in the world on flat sprints, with a 2nd on stage 4 of Paris-Nice and 4th at Scheldeprijs. This finish would seem to suit him even more than those races. He really can power up an incline. This was shown with his win at the Baloise Belgium Tour just under a fortnight ago. Or his attack that I alluded to in the overall preview. The big question is if it will be him or Bonifazio sprinting. The Italian finished 3rd today whereas Theuns finished in 154th place, over 11 minutes down. It turns out he had a mechanical at the bottom of the climb and rolled home after that, saving energy for tomorrow. I think he’ll be given the nod.
The second rider is another young Belgian talent, Jens Debuscherre. He finished 2nd on stage 1, but also finished in the same group as Theuns today. Unless he’s caught an overnight cold/illness, then I’m going to assume he was saving energy for this finish tomorrow. A very classy rider that is unfairly under-rated in my opinion, he has the flat-out strength and speed to match the favourites. After crashing out of his classics campaign, his goals for this season will have changed. That 2nd place earlier in the week has highlighted that his form is there. Definitely not one to be underestimated.
I’m not overly convinced by the two favourites on this finish and after picking one of them for the first stage, I’m not going to here. I do love an outsider after all 😉 I think Theuns will follow-up his first victory for Trek with his first WT win and I wouldn’t put it past Debuscherre to podium too!
I’m willing to take a bit of a risk on both of the highlighted riders. 1pt EW on both of them.
Theuns @ 50/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair
Debuscherre @ 40/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair
As usual, hunt around later when more bookmakers have prices up, you might get a better price!
Hope you enjoyed today’s frenetic stage and this preview. With a bit of luck we could be celebrating a winner tomorrow evening, I really like the look of these two, slightly left-field picks. Enjoy watching the stage wherever that may be from. Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.