Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stage 2 Preview 2013 Tour De France

The Orica Greenedge team bus needs more headroom
Stage one of the Tour De France delivered on the beautiful Corsican scenery, but the race was hammered with crashes that often mark the first, nervous week at the Tour. Perhaps ominously, within the first kilometer of racing, race favorite Chris Froome was the first to go down. He clipped a curb, but was quickly back racing with the pack. The end of the stage saw riders crashing into the barriers that seem to somewhat randomly appear at the sides of the road here and there. Johnny Hoogerland and Matt Goss were among them. And a large bunch crash that started near the front of the peloton as the riders were speeding into Bastia toward the finish, took down dozens. Several big names hit the ground including, Ryder Hesjedal, Peter Sagan, Alberto Contador, Geraint Thomas, Andreas Klöden, Ian Stannard, and Tony Martin. Martin was one of the worst off with a suspected broken collarbone, and his start tomorrow for stage two is questionable.

The other big story before the finish was the Orica GreenEdge team bus that got stuck at the finish line just minutes before the peloton arrived.  The overhead rigging at the finish line did not have the clearance for the bus to pass under, and it sat stuck for several minutes, as the peloton rapidly approached for the sprint finish, until finally it was cleared. After the untimely collapse of an inflatable 2k-to go banner at the Tour du Suisse, just as the leaders approached it, this oddball incident seems all the more strange. Luckily it was cleared in time for Marcel Kittel’s impressive sprint finish.

Stage 2 Profile
Stage 2 on the map

Stage 2 from Bastia to Ajaccio has the potential to be a fast, hotly contested race. It’s short, at 156k, punctuated in the middle by three medium mountains, and has a steep 1k climb located 12k from the finish. It is debatable whether or not the sprinters will be able to get on terms in time to force a bunch sprint finish, but my opinion is that several of them will. The better climbers among them, like Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb will be looking at this stage. Also licking their lips will be some stage hunters who descend well, or a strong Classics-type rider. Sunday’s action may be influenced by Saturday’s crash-filled first stage. The injuries will be assessed overnight and in the morning, and a beat up rider like Sagan may not feel like racing hard. On the other hand, he is my pick for the stage win.

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