Paris - Nice Stage 2 Preview
It was an exciting day as expected, a lot of drama, excitement and lots of moves both by the GC riders and the puncheurs. The strong winds did serious damage in the peloton, there were several gaps including a big move including riders like Quintana and Alaphillipe, both with teammates in a group of 16, from that group before it was caught by the peloton Alaphillipe and Benoot attacked and went clear, and in the chasing group only after the final climb did Dylan Teuns and Max Schachmann managed to bridge across. In the end Schachmann took the sprint in front of Teuns, Benoot third, and the chasing group finished 15 seconds back, missing some overall contenders who lost their hopes today.
Positive: All 4 riders that finished ahead of the peloton did very good, winning time and bonus seconds and despite none being an actual climber, all are in a good position to fight for the GC, and can do so if they have good legs throughout the week.
Negative: Bardet went down on a crash unfortunately, he lost 2:42 and Pierre Latour over 9 minutes. Porte and Guillaume Martin came with Bardet, Ben O'Connor lost time too, and Waren Barguil was disqualified after an excess of drafting after a crash.
The second stage is one for the sprinters, despite a bumpy start the finish is flat and should be the first real opportunity for the sprinters to battle it out for the glory unlike today.
Despite the final kilometers being quite technical the finishing straight is over 2.5Km long, there is enough room in there to gain back position if needed.
Major danger! In UAE we got no show despite good conditions, well here there's a good chance of seeing echelons two days in a row. There is moderate eastern wind throughout the whole day, which will ultimately mean a lot of cross and tailwind throughout the day. Also a headwind for the finishing straight for when the stage is being played out, should be a sprint in any scenario.
Echelons aside it will be fully a day for the sprinters. All of the main sprinters have strong teams so there shouldn't be any particularly in disadvantage, and with no real bumps in the finale and a headwind finish the fast men should be the ones to look at no doubt.
Bora had an almost perfect ride today, if it wasn't for Patrick Konrad loosing time on that final hill it would've been ideal, Grossschartner finished in the peloton and Schachmann took a strong win, they will have focus on their GC riders but they have in Pascal Ackermann a very strong rider for tomorrow, he didn't join the moves today and Peter Sagan will surely be at the team's disposal, so there is definetely a big lookout on the German.
But there is a lot of competition. Two names in particular, firstly Sam Bennett who has an absolute brute of a team full of powerhouse riders. With Alaphillipe likely to be targeting the GC, possibly Asgreen too, it's no obstacle as Bennett will still have several riders fully on him including Michael Morkov. And the other is Caleb Ewan, he's got his leadout of Roger Kluge and Jasper de Buyst, plus he's got John Degenkolb who can be of great help aswell in such finale. Sunweb raced brilliantly today, having several riders in the big moves, and getting to the finish with several riders in the mix, including a surprising Cees Bol who surpassed all the climbing and won the sprint in the back, the Dutch looks on terrific form and Sunweb definetely look like they can repeat today's scenario, they will surely try and Bol is a serious contender to this. On the wave of riders who did great today I'll mention Giacomo Nizzolo who did great today, but obviously couldn't do anything about the riders in front. On the opposite side Cofidis was barely present today, but they'll hope to have good legs for tomorrow as a consequence.
Furthermore, Nizzolo should count with the support of riders as Max Walscheird and Ryan Gibbons if a normal sprint is the occasion, Israel looked very good today with Nils Pollit and Mads Wurtz, they are both perfect riders for a leadout in the name of Rudy Barbier but the team has yet another fast name to help in Hugo Hofstetter. Israel have a really really strong team for this actually, their issue comes in actually organizing and using their powers well. There are more sprinters to consider, Circus has Andrea Pasqualon who will be looking for a good result and Niccolo Bonifazio as the Italians, and Nacer Bouhanni as a nice wildcard to wrap things off. Let's just hope the wind allows all this!
I'm going for Ewan to take the win tomorrow. Today he didn't seem to be after it, I think tomorrow focus will be full on and Lotto will not be caught out in possible crosswinds, and in a headwind sprint Ewan is on paper the fastest.
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