• Rúben Silva

Criterium du Dauphiné Stage 2 Preview

Edvald Boasson Hagen as he usually does showed his prestine form in the Dauphiné. The day had a dangerous break counting with names such as Oliver Naesen and Magnus Cort Nielsen, Bora made the chase for most of the day but in the final climb Deceuninck attacked hard. Lambrecht took advantage of the situation and linked up with the other two, and only inside the final kilometer did the group get caught, Alaphillipe launched Gilbert but the Norwegian had a powerful surge that wasn't matched by anyone. van Aert and Pollit followed Gilbert in what seemed as a cobbled specialist sprint.

Positive: Dimension Data needed this win very badly, it's good news to see them perform and just before the Tour. Several riders looked good today but didn't have the result to show it off.

Negative: Bora had a lot of work for no reward pretty much. The GC riders all resisted the climbs so there isn't anyone to point out. Colbrelli was a bit disapointing as he was there for the sprint but his positioning ruined his possibilities.

The Route

Stage 2 is a much harder affair, still a very hilly and rolling stage, the opening 70 kilometers are really hard with barely a flat meter, and this is a stage perfectly suited for a breakaway, as the GC men will surely keep their powder dry, and there are lots of outsiders capable of flying through the short powerful climbs. The final climb comes with 18 kilometers to go, it's 3.2Km long at an average gradient of 8.9%, it's hard enough for attacks to come, and they are very likely in case there's a break with a big lead, or a very hard race until that point, it's good terrain to make differences.

The Weather

Lot of rain, there's some northern wind but it shouldn't affect the race much, the wind will hit the riders in all directions but the main thing to look out really is the rain, danger of crashes is real and if the start is very hard there's a chance to see some GC riders distanced in the final climb if it's attacked.

The Favourites

The day is more suited for climber/puncheurs than sprinter/puncheurs like today, but that doesn't mean the list of favourites is any shorter. It's harder than the opening stage I'd say, but there will be a team interested in chasing which may come as benefit.

Deceuninck are likely the team to keep an eye on. The final climb is a little too long for Stybar and Gilbert, but they both looked very good and for Alaphillipe it's almost an ideal climb. They will surely want to help in the chase aswell. As I mentioned yesterday there is a big list of puncheurs who love this kind of climb, Dylan Teuns, Alexey Lutsenko and the INEOS duo Kwiatkowski and Moscon are also to take into account, also Poels is one to look out for in such a climb, and he loves the wet racing. I fancy the chances of Bjorg Lambrecht, he is looking sharp, and the climb also seems good for him.

Of course, in the actual climbing the GC riders are going to be on the move too if they happen, but over the top and until the finish they will be marked and will have much bigger trouble creating gaps. Of the GC riders if there are some who may make a move on the climb there are good names aswell, Fuglsang of course who's coming back to racing after a scary strong first part of the season, Adam Yates and Dan Martin also really like these explosive climbs, and Thibaut Pinot/David Gaudu/Rudy Molard combination can have multiple scenarios.

The sprinters, it will take a very easy race for Boasson Hagen and Colbrelli to still make it through, I really doubt that scenario (make it through I don't consider a possibility, but coming back after the climb that is), some riders like Daryl Impey and Alexander Geniez I would see it much easily, and like today a bit of a weird mix in the sprint.

A breakaway is also a good scenario, such a hard start will mean it's likely that there will be a strong breakaway going, and the rolling wet roads will make it hard for a proper and organized chase. I won't mention many riders, Alessandro De Marchi and Nicolas Edet are my favourite names for it, lots of names I wasn't expecting lost time today, so there aren't many riders that have freedom to gain time and the legs to win even if the peloton puts on a big chase.

Prediction Time

Alaphillipe, Kwiatkowski, Lutsenko

Poels, Fuglsang, A.Yates

Teuns, Moscon, Impey, Geniez, Pinot, Molard, De Marchi

My call goes for Kwiatkowski tomorrow. It's a very hard stage to predict, there's no main favourite. In the climb I don't think anyone will be able to go solo, and it wouldn't be the smartest option aswell. An attack over the top of the climb is a realistic scenario to decide the stage, and INEOS with multiple choices and the relatively lack of pressure on the Pole due to Froome's presence may allow him to escape in a small group for the win.

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