Well, I can honestly say I would never have picked Cavendish out as the winner today! We didn’t get the crosswind action that I was hoping for, but there were still a few casualties caused by the panic. Contador seems to be the one who came off worse with bad road rash on his shoulder and right-hand side. He’s away to the hospital for scans to see if it’s worse than it appears. We also got a bad crash during the sprint as well, with several riders going down. However, it was the Manx Missile who stole the show and in turn picking up his first ever Yellow Jersey. Onto tomorrow’s stage!
A testier route than stage 1, it’s up and down for a lot of the race. Grippy roads I’d say!
The stage starts in-land but then follows the coast again so there is a chance for some echelons, but as we saw today, that all depends on the attitude of the teams.
The main feature of this stage however comes in the final 10 kilometres. With a short ascent of the Côte d’Octeville, on which some of the lighter riders will hope to sap the legs of the fast men.
After that, the Côte de La Glacerie will provide the final test for the riders. Officially 1.9km at 6.5% it really opens up the stage to a lot of riders. However, the Strava segment makes it look slightly easier, as it incorporates the second section. With it being 2.9km at 5%. There are some steep sections over the first 1.5km, but the actual finale looks relatively straight forward. A proper power sprint! But who will be left?
The World Champion has had a fantastic season, no Rainbow curse for him! The worrying thing is that I don’t think he’s even hit his best form yet this season, a scary thought. This type of finish looks perfectly suited to his characteristics, a climb to soften the legs followed by a strong-mans sprint.
A man who seems he can sprint as fast on an incline as he can on the flat. This Ardennes-ish style finish resembles Amstel Gold quite a lot. Matthews is tailor-made for that and this stage seems to suit him to a tee. Pre-Tour he targeted this stage and the possibility of taking Yellow but after being involved in the crash (supposedly he’s not injured according to Orica) he’s lost ground to Sagan. He might win the stage, but unlikely to take Yellow!
Julian Alaphilippe. The young Frenchman has the skill-set, a punchy climb and a fast sprint. I think the organisers were thinking of him when they designed the stage. A Frenchman in Yellow?
GVA, EBH, Valverde, D Martin and Gallopin all have claims to go well, but I don’t think it’s hard enough for Valverde/D Martin.
One rider who I talked a lot about in the Sprint Jersey preview can go well here; Bryan Coquard. As I’ve mentioned above, this stage reminds me a lot of the Amstel Gold Race. You only have to look at the result of this years race for riders who could be up there tomorrow.
Coquard has impressed me with his turn of speed this year, but it’s been his uphill sprints that have been the most dominant. I think he has a very good chance tomorrow!
There is a chance that we don’t get a sprint and that a lone, late attacker wins. Recently crowned French Champion Arthur Vichot could give it a go or someone like Jarlinson Pantano.
There are many more who could win if certain scenarios play out.
As I’ve said several times this preview, this stage is AGR Mk2, a toughish climb followed by a “flat” sprint. Of the riders who were at that race and are here, Le Coq was the fastest finisher. I think he can challenge clear-favourite Sagan and take the win. Maybe even yellow too if he’s lucky. That would be a great coup for the French team!
Just backing Coquard tomorrow, not wanting to get overly involved with the few potential outcomes.
0.75pt EW @ 25/1 with Boylesports. (Paying 4 places)
Apologies if this is snappier than normal, I had my Grad Ball last night and haven’t been feeling too clever today. Normal service shall resume tomorrow! Hopefully we get an exciting stage, it has the potential to be a good ‘un! Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.