Tour of California Stage 2 Preview
Peter Sagan took the opening stage of the Tour of California. The stage was very calm as expected until the final kilometers, where Deceuninck lead the charges but ended up without Jakobsen for te sprint, and a split caused some riders to get a gap in front in which Sagan managed to outsprint Travis McCabe and Max Walscheid to become the first leader of the race.
Positive: Sagan getting a win was important for him, no matter what the level was, McCabe was really strong, if he had gotten a win it would come as a shock for the peloton despite the knowledge of his quality. INEOS had a big presence in front, a strong leadout but a big ask for Halvorsen to beat the names that finished in front of him.
Negative: Jakobsen completely blew it, he was the one that let the gap open, and Richeze wasn't up for the case. Morkov was there but didn't have the legs to contest the win obviously. Grossschartner lost 11 seconds for the main group, not the best way to start off the race, aswell as Cavendish who didn't even finish in the peloton (or right behind as Grossschartner).
Stage 2 isn't a high mountain one, more hilly despite the big amount of climbing. There's a slow uphill drag until the altitude reaches 2000 meters. In reality, the riders will go over 2600 meters but the finish line will be in the previous number, the finish isn't overly hard but the final 1.2Km are at a 7.5% gradient.
There's over 4000 meters of climbing on this day so even though it isn't terrain to make gaps, there will definetely be a selection throughout the day, and the climbers may get in the battle for the bonifications.
With around 10/15Km/h and 45Km/h gusts the wind may play a small part today, there's a tailwind for most of the stage which will make the climbing faster. The final climb is on wind-covered roads, but anyhow if it makes effect there it should come from the side so there won't be much to consider as to the finish.
The Bora riders may come in today as the main favourites. Max Schachmann's current form isn't known, it's likely that he's taken a break after his Ardennes block, still it's expected of him to be in the front for today and the same can be said of his teammate Felix Gorssschartner who despite a little time loss yesterday he is a rider capable of these explosive efforts.
On the climber's side, which is the type that may decide the stage there's a long list, Richie Porte, George Bennett, Rohan Dennis, Brandon McNulty, Simon Spilak, David de la Cruz and some others, but there are some that suit this explosive finish better. Tadej Pogacar is a fine example, still a very young rider but he has shown to have quite the kick in the hills, EF have Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Higuita, both a bit in unfamiliar form in relation to others but both are punchy enough to be in contention, with Tejay van Garderen as a backup.
On the more puncheur side, Toms Skujins is one to look at, Zdenek Stybar, Davide Ballerini, José Gonçalves, Nathan Haas are all favourites for the stage if they can go through the bulk of the climbing, Gianni Moscon to a certain point although there's much less confidence currently in him.
On the more sprinter side Sagan is the obvious claim, he's won this race in the past, and is the record holder of stage wins, he can climb, obviously not if it's an attacked race but if there's a slow buildup he may be there in the end, Magnus Cort Nielsen and Edwin Avila are two other riders who would profit from such scenario.
⭐ Ballerini, Cort Nielsen, Stybar, Porte, Avila, Moscon, G.Bennett
My bet is for Pogacar to win today, a punchy climber he should really like today's finish, the overall may be decided in seconds so all the favourites will want to seize the opportunity.
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