Tour de France Stage 2 Preview

A trip along the Danish coast, today’s stage will be a nervous one because the wind could get up. This creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of danger because everyone wants to be at the front to avoid trouble so the pressure is on to fight for position which increases the danger and so on. There’s also the spectacular Great Belt Bridge across the sea just before the finish.

A Bicyclette, Yves Montant, : the Little Mermaid statue in Denmark might rank among the Copenhagen’s most overrated tourist attractions, a small bronze statue perched on a rock where the icy Baltic sea meets the Langelinie coastal embankment, and perhaps the most common reaction it elicits must be “is that it?”. Yesterday it was the place to be, the promenade was the most tricky part of the course and spectators – and there were plenty everywhere – got to see riders sliding and gliding through the bends, at one point slowing down to 20km/h.

Yves Lampaert caused the upset with the win. An excellent time triallist but not a big winner, the sort you’d tip to win the TT stage of the Driedaagse De Panne, but the Tour? Yes, and the likes of Van Aert, Ganna and Van der Poel were gobbled up like smørrebrød. The weather had begun to turn but Lampaert still had soaked roads and didn’t seem to be taking wild risks either, he just muscled his way around the course. It means Quick-Step will be up for defending the jersey as their job today is to set up Fabio Jakobsen for the win and erase memories of a missed spring campaign.

Among the GC contenders Pogačar was the best, finishing third – quicker than Ganna – and beat Vingegaard and Roglič by eight seconds but the latter was visibly taking it safe through many corners. Adam Yates was the surprise, better than Geraint Thomas, who started the course still sporting his gilet having forgotten to remove it before the start.

The Route: 200km and a maritime feel. The stage starts in Roskilde, a city that celebrates the old Viking ships and does a mean export of pro cyclists, the Roskilde Cycle Ring junior club has had 14 of the 24 Danish pros in the World Tour according to L’Equipe. It’s along the Fjordlandet coast and around to Høve for three short climbs to help get the mountains competition started with one point each, win two and a rider will take the polka-dot jersey; if three different riders win then the best rider overall gets the jersey. The third climb is the longest and the hardest as it’s on a smaller road and starts from a sharp turn.

Once the climbs are done and with about 100km to go there are more coastal road as the course twists and turns from one seaside village to the next, often on smaller roads which take the race towards a beach and then back to a main road. There were lots of crashes last year one hypothesis was that because everyone was still tied on time for GC so everyone was fighting for position. Today we’ll see if yesterday’s time trial will have calmed things down, or if it’s just the pressure of the Tour de France that’s to blame. This is ideal crosswind country.

With 21km to go comes the big feature of the day, the Storebæltsbroen, the 18km “Big Belt Bridge”, a concrete tightrope. Part of it is elevated via a suspension bridge in order to let maritime traffic underneath, the longer part on stilts is flat. It’s an express road normally closed to cyclists – you take the train if you want to cross by bike – and much of the road is barely above sea level and it’s all exposed to the slightest sea breeze.

The Finish: after the 3km to go point it’s off the bridge and the express road down a sliproad to the right, then along the coast to pass under the flamme rouge. Then comes a left turn and crossing back over the express road, a bump in the road not shown on the profile above and an awkward up and down for sprint trains, it’s barely a climb but these small things can disrupt lead outs, before a dash to the line.

The Contenders: Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step) is in form, has an impressive win rate and his team offers plenty of power and support, they’ll be all in for him today without having to spare resources to protect a GC leader.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) ought to be the best sprinter in the world as he’s so fast and versatile with it too. But he’s stacked it in the Tour, did it again in the Giro and and also doesn’t have a full lead out train. Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) has a similar story, he’s been as consistent of late but if he wins it’ll feel perfectly natural.

The local pick is Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) but don’t call him a sprinter, he’ll hope the race is ripped to shreds and many sprinters are left ragged by the finish. The problem for him is that if this happens then Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is likely to be there and if he’s there because the group’s been distilled down to a few hitters, then bonjour Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) too.

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) can win on any terrain but the problem is beating the top names cited already. He can do it, or he’ll be close. Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty) could be in the mix for a sprint, maybe Alberto Dainese (DSM) too but his Giro stage win is still a surprise.

Fabio Jakobsen
Dylan Groenewegen, Caleb Ewan, WvA
Philipsen, Pedersen, MvdP, Kristoff

Weather: 22°C with clouds and sunshine. More importantly, two out of three wind models say a 30-35km breeze from the SW, meaning a headwind on the big bridge but frequent crosswinds for the coastal sections between 100km and 20km to go. One other wind forecast says a headwind for the coastal approach roads and a crosswind for the bridge.

TV: it starts at 12:15 CET and the finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST. Tune in from 3.00pm to catch any crosswind action and see the images of the bridge.

51 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 2 Preview”

  1. I’ll be watching Sagan today to get an idea of his real chances for green. Even in form he’s unlikely to win but this is the kind of stage he’s routinely made the top five.

      • The chainrings are always for winning. Harder to see Sagan getting past everyone today, if all the sprinters are out of the picture, would van der Poel and van Aert be gone today. But would be a nice story if he won and mean a lot to his team.

        • I agree with all you wrote but I think this might apply equally to Kristoff, who appeared to be no match for Sagan at the Tour de Suisse.

  2. Today’s stage will evoke memories of the Tour’s 2015 visit along the Dutch coast when the weather was wild for a time and Nairo Quintana saw his GC chances whistle away in the wind.
    There were crashes that day too if I recall.
    It looks almost as if this could be a repeat, with the smaller / lighter riders at particular risk.
    The crashes are down to the gods, Njord was the Norse god of the wind and sea.

  3. Farmer’s Boy does good! (as the old headline writers would say) – impressive ride – as was Pogacar. He does make it look so easy. Eurosport’s Robbie McEwan wins the “Kiss of Death” award with Laporte’s crash, and G.Thomas wins the “Gilet of the Day” award. (loved his comment about how Mrs.G. could have rode better). Stage 2 and it’s bound to be fast and furious so let’s hope no big crashes (echelons at least would string out the peloton), and who’s going to go for the KOM points?

  4. Well done to Inrng for suggesting Yves Lampaert as an outsider yesterday, I doubt he got a mention in other previews. He did get the best of the weather but you have to take your chances.

    Just checked the wind forecast (there is a weather site, the three weather models all suggest generally a south westerly strong breeze, with gusts up to 40km/h but getting less windy towards evening. If you look at Nyborg there is a webcam from the top of the bridge, there are plenty of wind turbines in view.

    I suspect that the threat of the wind will have as much effect as the wind itself. The chances of crashes must be very high unfortunately (hopefully no interventions from sign wielding spectators). I do wonder if the GC riders might be better off accepting a small time loss rather than risk the race in the inevitable high speed jostling, though being in the middle of the pack does expose the riders to a higher risk of random crashes.

    QS will defend the jersey and I guess Yves lampaert is likely to be in yellow for a few days, the main threat would be WvA but, despite his green jersey ambitions, not sure he is more likely to be taking time bonuses than Fabio Jakobson, Caleb Ewan etc

    • Having followed horse racing in the UK some time back, I’m doubtful that we’ll see restrained riding to avoid crashes. Before the Grand Nation, for example, many trainers would give instructions not go too fast to the 1st fence. Riders would have a special briefing from the stewards because of the number of early fallers in previous years before the race. However, the sense of occasion, excitement, noisy crowd, horses in peak condition for the day etc. there was still a cavalry charge at the off.

      Even if the crosswinds don’t materialise, I’d expect a fast, nervous day. and a very high chance of crashes

    • Be interesting to see who goes in the break – not that they’ll get a lot of time if it’s very nervous. Could well see B&B again get some TV time and a few Euros. I could see everyone all together for the Sprint Award then full gas to the finish.

    • I’m not sure why. It might shift some weaker teams (Arkea, FDJ, Cofidis, DSM…) but Jumbo, Bora and UAE (Ineos main rivals for GC) look at least as able to cope with crosswinds and echelons as Ineos. Hoping for wind all the same.

      • Because it’s their best chance of gaining time, they have more chance of causing time gaps in stages like this than in the mountains.

    • Would be, but you won’t see any today. Not on the coast, either: the wind direction will be just as unwelcome as the rain yesterday.
      What I believe we’ll see and what will entertain us (for a while) is the battle – yes, it’s just a word – for firt the polka dot and then the green jersey. Then it will be Dull City until there is about 6 km to the finish.

      Anf what I – like many others – am afraid of is the usual: a nervous peloton, riders fighting for position and riders worried about getting caught behind a big crash – and as a result too many crashes and riders with injuries that will touble them for the first week or force them to DNF before the Tour reaches France.

    • Ineos might have a problem getting all 3 GC contenders in the first echelon. Yes Pidcock, Baarle and Rowe can cause major damage, but are they willing to sacrifice one of their GC guys on stage 2? Same for Jumbo. Will they ride when one of their 2 guys is out of it?

  5. For those who don’t know, Facebook & Twitter have the signing in live every stage (except for TT’s). Just follow the official Tour website links. Today’s starts at 10.55 CET. (Will Bahrain be booed as has happened?)

  6. Watching someone fiddling down narrow footpaths and over footbridges on a TT bike is a strange spectacle that in my mind lacks any form of common sense. I get that the Danish tourist board want to show off Copenhagen so why not have a city centre crit and then a TT on the countryside roads that suit them.
    I’m hoping it’s nice and windy for todays stage and we get some good action. I’ll go for WVA to make up for his shock at losing yesterday.

    • Fiddling is something that I don’t think we saw much yesterday. There have been just as many if not more tight corners and technical passages on practically every TT course in every GT or WC event that I’ve seen.

      The problem yesterday was not the course but the weather. I’m inclined to argue that we would have seen just as many crashes and that there would have been just as many riders who chose to lose time and be a bit safer rather than take risks.

      But I would also agree that it is high time to leave TT bikes in history and to create a contre le montre event on “normal” road bikes that could still be an equivalent of a proper ITT for the specialists. (How, I have no idea…)

      • “But I would also agree that it is high time to leave TT bikes in history and to create a contre le montre event on “normal” road bikes that could still be an equivalent of a proper ITT for the specialists. (How, I have no idea…)”
        NO IDEA? Simple, just go back to the past. You’re probably not going to eliminate a special bike for the big stars but at least it would have standard riding position. No “trout-head” crash-hats, chin-fairings, disc wheels, etc. either. At the fly-away races where no chrono bikes are used in the chrono stages, the same guys still win, don’t they?

        • Larry, I believe we all have noticed that, for you, NOTHING is minor and everything is major – or at least CAPITAL 🙂
          But – as I am sure you, too, know – nothing is more difficult than just going back tio the past. *That* was the whole point of the ellipsis: nothing could be more simple than riding the time-trial stages with (some no doubt extremely specialisized version of) an UCI-legal road bikes – but *how* do we get there?
          I don’t think it’s just the srong and vehement opposition by major bike manufacturers who want to sell their bikes to TT and triathlon cyclists, there must be a significant faction or voting block in UCI who see time-trial bikes as something that brings added value to stage races or who would oppose scrapping what they see has become a classic element in road cycling.
          I mean, it cannot be that we who only watch races on TV and whose only wisdom is of the armchair kind know better than those who have made raod racing the huge success it – at many levels – is? 🙂

      • Or we could hope that more riders are as forgetful as Thomas (shades of Pedro Delgado?), and don’t remember their special aero gear?

  7. It’s curious how in a small handful of years Ineos/Sky have gone from the meticulous detail of dimpled jerseys to swanning around the course in recon gear.

    • Cycling gods have moved on. golden years for skineos at the tour are over, like back in the days with banesto/movistar after indurain left.

    • C’mon, the SKYNEOS “trident” is poised to poke holes in all the other competitors besides the “marginal losses” (gilet, soft tire and ?) of yesterday. And if they can’t do it there’s always their former leader…he’s only down in 100-something place on GC now 🙂
      Was I the only one who thought TV motorbikes made it tough for the team cars carrying way-more-than-enough spare bikes to get close behind their riders and help (if you believe the claims) their speed?

      • Mocking someone who has survived a crash which would have killed many people or left them in a wheelchair is pretty poor even by your standards, Larry. Get well soon.

        • Mocking someone who can’t seem to realize there’s no cure for the common birthday and it’s time to quit is fair game IMHO. Using your logic it would seem you’d excuse what Tex did because he climbed out of a hospital bed to do it? Can’t I be happy the man wasn’t killed or maimed at the same time wishing he’d quit before he becomes a laughing-stock? Hinault will always be the king of calling-it-quits, leaving his fans wanting more instead of vice-versa. This year Gilbert, Valverde and few others will do the same…why not Il Frullatore?

          • Last Word Larry strikes again, not understanding that by his achievements Froome has earned the right to retire at a time of his own choosing.

          • Perhaps Froome earned that right – but that doesn’t mean he made the right choice. 😉

            I admire his optimism and his love for racing, the amount of work necesary to be just at the level to make the time limit must be huge.

      • I’m no wind tunnel aero expert, but I doubt this spare bike trick doesn’t help that much on an twisted inner city course like Copenhagen.

  8. Perfect day’s racing I found. Big crowds enjoying it. Surprise result but no shock, worthy guy. GC riders close. No accidents (Valverde in Dusseldorf).

  9. Cav should be riding the TdF to be honest, he’s clearly got great form and I haven’t really seen too much from Jakobson. To suggest he’s a better bet.
    Would it be some influence from Merckx, as he doesn’t want his record broken? Be interesting to hear what others think.

    • I think that’s unfair on Jakobsen, 10 wins already this season and has for me looked consistently the fastest sprinter this season… especially when you consider he has had the pressure of ‘Cav to tour’ the media have been trying to build. I think he fully deserves to be at the Tour, Quickstep backed him at the beginning of the season and (so far) he has delivered. That’s sport!

    • Merckx has so many records he can afford to lose one without losing sleep. I quite like the idea of them sharing the record though as comparisons don’t work, if Cavendish gets one more stage win he gets this record but it’s anecdotal.

      I always thought Jakobsen would go to the Tour for QS… but lately with the absence of Alaphilippe the team looks a bit lite for stage wins, they could have brought Cavendish along for the star factor. But with Lampaert yesterday and if Jakobsen does it today then they’ll be proven right.

      We’ll see where Cavendish goes for next year, it’s a bit of a headscratcher. TotalEnergies because of the Specialized connection? Trek because they have gaps in their roster to fill?

    • Is Cav doing better tho?
      Both have some victories in small stage races this year. Cav wins Milano-Torino, Fabio wins Kuurne… Cav wins the nationals. Jakobsen was in the lead group quite deep into the race….
      But the decider I think is: Cav wins “only” one Giro stage. I think that is not considered exceptional enough to change the plans.

    • Cav would have won by more today. Lol. I’m pretty sure Cav would have sat up for 12th today. QS made the right choice. Cav shouldn’t have joined a team with 2 other sprinters if he wanted to go to TdF.

  10. After the bridge there looks to be a short section (maybe a km or 2) where the road is goes north west so a south westerly wind will be a pure cross wind and it looks exposed. Not sure it will be enough to split it but I recall Quick step shredding a peloton in a short section in the run in on a burst stage so it might be they all breathe a sigh of relief coming off the bridge and get caught out.

    Or am I just being hopeful?

  11. Presumably you are saving the Scandi Noir punning mashup of headline The Bridge into Nyborg* for when we find out whodunnit.

    Not a big fan of the TT and bikes, but it’s not fair to blame the course or the weather for all the crashes when riders can only choose to risk all or stay upright on a variety of surfaces that included polished pebble resin and lots of white lines on sharp turns.

    *if you have to explain a pun it’s no good but Danish political drama Borgen has Birgitta Nyborg as its principal, and The Bridge had us all gripped, especially when Saga Noren leapt into her classic 911.

  12. What a great start! I’m not normally a fan of the ITT as a spectator sport but this one was riveting.

    Everyone ( well , almost) ended up with something. Pog got a little GC cushion to take into the race, JV strutted their team strength to great effect, G’s only mishap was forgetting to take his gilet off (at least , it was ‘snug’ as he said) , Pidcock made a great debut. Lefèvre has yellow so his team selection has been validated ( only joking).

    The winner’s joy and modesty was delightful to behold.

  13. “Roskilde, a city that celebrates the old Viking ships”

    A sentence with Roskilde and celebrates without one mention of the famous Roskilde Festival, who had tons of major music stars over the decades? Dude…

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