The Spin: Stage 2

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Stage 2

The profile says it all: 23km and it’s flat. The course is not as technical as the last time the Tour included a team time trial when several teams were blown to pieces by hills and corners. Bbox lost several riders in one go but that can’t happen this time since the team, now known as Europcar, has its HQ and service course in Les Essarts.

Europcar might have home advantage but this time the teams arrived in the Vendée days before the race so everyone’s had time to ride the route. Yet a recon isn’t too useful since the course is almost featureless. It is not on large straight roads, the course does twist and turn a little but there’s nothing too technical for nine professionals. The final approach back into town has a roundabout with 1km to go and a sharp right hand bend at 500m to go

The time gaps won’t be big given the length of the stage, teams are expected to take around 25 minutes.

Rules: the time is taken on the fifth rider to cross the line. Unlike previous TTTs, the time losses are not capped meaning the time taken by a rider is the time they are awarded. Riders arriving outside the time limit will be eliminated and this delay is set at 30% of the winning time. So if the best time on the day is 25 minutes (1,500 seconds) then the cut off is time is 450 seconds or seven minutes thirty seconds.

Weather: the forecast suggests a pesky 30km/h sidewind meaning close formation and echelon formation could make the difference when it comes to winning the stage.

Viewing: The stage is important tactically for the race. Alberto Contador is already 1.14 down on his principal rivals and he could easily be two minutes down by the end of the stage. But if the stage makes for good pictures, it’s not usually great TV. Tune in for the last hour to see the action.

Nath July 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

Saxo will be off first today, right? I think they came dead last in the team classification yesterday Ignominy for contador and a target for everyone else to hammer…

The Inner Ring July 3, 2011 at 9:22 am

Yes, teams go off in reverse team classification, Saxo first and Omega – Lotto last. As you say, it gives the other teams a target, a reference. But this course is so short that pacing doesn’t matter too much, it’s full gas. The riders will find this very painful, not the dull ache but acid in the legs and a strain on the lungs.

1 Omega Pharma – Lotto 14:04:45
2 BMC Racing Team 0:00:03
3 Team Leopard-Trek 0:00:06
4 HTC – Highroad
5 Team Radioshack
6 Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne
7 Lampre – ISD
8 Sky Procycling
9 Katusha Team
10 Pro Team Astana
11 Movistar Team
12 Quick Step Cycling Team
13 Team Europcar
14 Team Garmin – Cervelo
15 Liquigas-Cannondale
16 FDJ 0:01:20
17 Rabobank Cycling Team
18 Saur-Sojasun 0:01:55
19 AG2R La Mondiale
20 Vacansoleil-Dcm 0:03:09
21 Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:04:42
22 Saxo Bank Sungard 0:04:58

Cyclo July 3, 2011 at 10:15 am

I think some riders have to spare themselves for the next weeks.

Nick July 3, 2011 at 11:10 am

How does a TTT not make for good TV?

As opposed to last night? Which had it not been the opening Stage could have been condensed in to a 15 minute highlight reel of the final 10km.

Not exactly rating buster material before that…

The Inner Ring July 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

Nick: for me it’s because you don’t see the direct rivalry, you have to wait for the times to arrive. It’s less intense if you like. When all goes well, watching the riders in formation is an impressive feat but the better they do it, then watching a team rotate a pace line isn’t the same as a sprint finish or seeing riders crack on the final climb.

stuartrc July 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

Not the most exciting stage but still sat here hoping that Saxo bank have a nightmare and Sky, OPL and BMC all stomp through the stage.

LeonG July 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm

The stage was fascinating to watch as the various teams played out the afternoon formula one style. Although Garmin won, as they deserved, all the teams demonstrated by how much cyclists have had to improve as teams to limit losses in such an event. It is nothing like ten years ago.

LeonG July 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I must disagree that stage was not interesting prior to the massive crash at 10kms. The whole stage was interesting – from the break away at 0kms to the final sprint. It is really inclusive now to be in amongst the cyclists with modern media coverage live. Everything is on display from equipment to individual competitors. The French commentary team is absolutely marvellous, making it a real Tour de France.

Nick July 4, 2011 at 3:40 am

Well I would say I enjoyed a lot of the race last night, especially with Saxo Bank firing off a cracker early only to be pulled in one by one.

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