Saint-Péray > Brives-Charensac 169.6km
After Van Aert took the yellow jersey, the second stage offers another opportunity to the fast men who can climb. It’s got more climbing in it than today, and a big cat 2 climb will ensure that Groenewegen and Bauhaus have an restless night.
Cloudy sun and nice temperatures.
13.5km at 4.4% doesn’t sound that hard, but it’s the length of time the riders will be climbing for that will put the pure sprinters into difficulty. The organisers have decided to put the KOM point 4.5km from the end of the climb, maybe they have a sick sense of humour. Once the climb does finish, the road continues to roll for another 20km, it’s not going to be easy for the quick guys.
The final 14km starts with an unclassified climb, quickly followed by the cat 4 climb. Both aren’t as easy as they seem, it is a perfect launchpad for someone who doesn’t want to trust their sprint.
In terms of organising the sprint, the most important thing to note is the roundabout with 1.6km to go. The roadbook says that both sides are open, but the right-hand side is significantly shorter. Also, after this point things get rather technical. We have a series of corners as the riders head over the river, before hitting the final straight which is 600m long.
Is anyone going to help Jumbo-Visma control the stage? My initial reaction would be no, but cycling can surprise. BikeExchange are here to win a stage with Groenewegen, this is another opportunity. He didn’t climb well today, and the prospect of hauling himself over a cat 2 climb might not be too appealing, but it does crest a long way from home.
Trek-Segafredo were the main team trying to make it hard today, I’m not sure they’ll do the same in this stage. Jumbo-Visma could well up the pace on the climb, but with a number of protected riders in their team, they don’t have too many men to use up on the climb. The other candidate are Ineos, their best chance of winning this stage is with Hayter, not from the break, but they need to make the climb hard to drop the pure sprinters. Just because he lost today doesn’t mean they won’t try again.
The breakaway riders will also hope to have their day. The start is flat, making it relatively easy for Jumbo-Visma to ensure a weak break gets away, that’s going to be a problem for the attackers.
Those who have a punch will probably hold off and wait for a late attack, the cat 4 climb with 10km to go is perfect for this. It might only be around 1km at 5.4%, but it gives hope, where would we be without some hope!
Wout Van Aert – I would never say that Van Aert lacks confidence, but he’s the same as everyone else, winning a bike race will have given him a boost. He’s now in the yellow jersey, and it looks like he’s much faster than all the other non-pure sprinters. Jumbo-Visma will hope to get a little help controlling the break, they’ll not be keen on using vital energy with some big stages to come next weekend. If it does come back for a sprint, Wout will be the big favourite.
Dylan Groenewegen – he’s never been on a good climber, getting dropped today would only have been a surprise to the uneducated. Despite this stage having more climbing than today, I think he’s got a better chance of surviving, thanks to the distance from the crest of the cat 2 climb and the finish. If Groenewegen drops a little on the climb, there is time to re-join the peloton, as long as BikeExchange have numbers to help him chase. If I were them, I wouldn’t help Jumbo-Visma chase at the start of the stage, I would save everyone for the climb and chase after.
Phil Bauhaus – I watched his interview before the start of today’s stage, he didn’t sound so happy to be here. He’s clearly tired after the Giro, but there is a chance of him winning a stage at this race, I can see why he’s here.
Ethan Hayter – did a great job today, but he wasn’t fast enough to beat Van Aert. I think his best chance of beating him is to come from behind, but you can’t always guarantee that happening. Ineos will try again in this stage, they really need to be one of the teams setting a fast pace on the climb, if they want any hope of taking the win.
Mikkel Honoré – his attack today was very impressive, no one could stay with him. He’ll be looking at the final climb of the day, it’s a chance for him to get a gap and see if he can hold off the bunch. From the crest there is 9km to go, that’s tough for a solo rider, he could do with a friend or two.
Benjamin Thomas – if he can get in a small group that escapes on the final climb, he’ll have a good chance of taking the win.
Christophe Laporte – it all depends on his role within the team. There will be attacks on the final climb, if he’s allowed to follow, he’ll have a great chance of taking the win. The way he covered Cavagna today was very impressive, he’s clearly got good legs just now.
Jumbo-Visma will chase the break, it’s likely to be small and feature a rider high on GC. Once on the cat 2 climb we’ll have to see if anyone wants to lift the pace, it’s tough due to the distance between the climb and the finish. It’s the final climb that interests me, and some of the riders, this is the chance to spoil the dreams of the sprinters, but it won’t be easy. Those looking to attack will wish the climb was longer and steeper, but it is what it is. Jumbo-Visma will know what’s coming, that’s why they’ll smash the climb to prevent anyone from attacking and Wout Van Aert will take another win.