• Rúben Silva

Binck Bank Tour Stage 2 Preview

Although not a very dangerous day despite the rain dad affected the race as was the forecast it was a very tense one, only Arnaud Démare suffered from the crashes in the group of vital riders, the run-in to the line was very fast with Trek taking control and leading out Theuns to the line, who would be the fastest if it wasn't for a strong Sam Bennet coming from behind, taking the win in front of Theuns and Mike Teunissen, who was to lead Groenewegen who was boxed in the final meters.

Positive: Sam Bennett takes his 9th win of the season, keeps a prestine and consistent record throughout the year, Theuns a nice surprise in the first places, nothing more to really note.

Negative: Besides Démare's crash there was some bad luck in Groenewegen who was blocked when launching his sprint, Hodeg and Mareczko failed in the sprint and Modolo also had issues.

The Route

The second stage is in West Flandrien roads, it's another flat stage finishing in a small circuit in Ardooie. It's not as complicated as the day before, coming more inland the winds will likely not take such importance, less exposed roads and a Golden Kilometer quite far from the finish, still with 27 kilometers to go, and the cobbles won't be as stressful.

It's another complicated finish, the roads running up to Ardooie are quite wide but the final two kilometers aren't, the city center area is in a narrow roads with a chicane right before the final kilometers, the fight for positioning will be intense into those corners, and from there there's no time to recover position.

The Weather

Real danger tomorrow. Not only is rain forecasted again but the wind will be strong too, a really unpleasant day, suited for the rough men. Wind will be around 20Km/h at the start and 15Km/h with gusts over 40Km/h from the west. With a very sinuous route there will be several areas with tail and crosswinds in the run-up to Ardooie. In the finishing circuit there's a headwind after the Golden Kilometer so serious attacks aren't expected there, but the final kilometers will be mostly with crosswinds, will be a dangerous and even more tense finish than what it would already be with normal weather.

The Favourites

As we've seen today the sprints will be messy, with the sheer ammount of fast men in here it's certain that some will be left out of the fight. Unlike today it will be a very fast sprint so the powerhouses will be benefited but that also means positioning is more vital than today, coming from behind to take the win will be hard. Another thing that was clear is that the leadouts weren't working well, expeirence and power matter but luck will also have a big saying, so surprises can easily happen.

After today's win Sam Bennett is even more of a favourite. His win was unchallenged today and he had no leadout, which shouldn't be the scenario in the coming days. He rides very well in the rain and the wind and the team is equally as good in that scenario. The Jumbo train looked good but Teunissen didn't leadout Groenewegen, not sure if intentional but the whole scheme was ruined there. I wasn't going to give Groenewegen a big shot for tomorrow but I'll believe it was a tactical mishap and keep the Dutch at the same level. As for Trek with Theuns and Moschetti, UAE's Philipsen and Bahrain's Bauhaus they all did very very well today, so I can expect them to be up there again tomorrow as positioning was the thing that could put them off.

Hodeg was expected to have problems in the end, still Deceuninck worked a lot, they have to recalibrate their strategy obviously, alongside Mareczko, Modolo and Démare they need better luck tomorrow to recover from negative results.

Timothy Dupont and Kristoffer Halvorsen were in the Top10 roulette today, very good signs from both and from Halvorsen I expect the same if not more as INEOS look very dialed in terms of team to help him out.

It isn't over here, there are lots more sprinters and in fact I am a believer that tomorrow can see big fractions in the peloton, but from those I can only say teams like Deceuninck and Bora could thrive in but in order to fight for the stage it is very hard to really know what will happen. But that's my hint ;)

Prediction Time

Bennett, Groenewegen

Bauhaus, Theuns, Philipsen

Halvorsen, Démare, Dupont, Hodeg, Mareczko

And I will back Bennett again. If you pay close attention you'll see many times I mention a rider that "gives me lots of confidence", that's an unwritten list of riders I know that I can start a stage and think "he's gonna win today and I can clearly imagine it", he's one of the few and I see no reason why he won't be the man to beat tomorrow, I see no scenario that can put him out of the fight, only the different scenarios in which he can win.

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