Stage 2 of the Tour de France will almost definitely end in a sprint, image ASO

Stage 2 of the Tour de France was, on paper, the day where the first serious crashes would occur.  The time trial was meant to be day where each of the riders, one by one, would bed into racing with reasonable comfort; crash free and safe.  My how that theory was blown out of the water!

Here’s how it usually goes.  On the first road stage of the Tour de France there are nervous legs, lots of jostling for position and inevitably one or two crashes to go with that.  In the past Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish and many of the most prominent cycling figures have been caught out on the first road stage.  History shows us that we will likely be in line for the same again tonight, except this time with a number of riders already bandaged up.

Düsseldorf – Liege is stage 2 of the Tour de France, image ASO

Stage 1 of the Tour brought down a number of riders.  The worst off was Alejandro Valverde of Movistar who broke his leg and dislocated his knee, ruling him out of any further continuation in the Tour.  Both George Bennett of LottoNL-Jumbo and Patrick Bevin of Cannondale-Drapac came down, with Bevin needing a concussion check post stage to check whether he’d be eligible to continue any further.  We still, as we write this, don’t know for sure whether Bevin will take on stage 2; another concussion check awaits.

Besides the fact that stage 2 will almost certainly end in a bunch sprint finish, there are a couple of other interest points.  First, who will be the Tour de France’s first king of the mountains?  That question will begin to be answered just a few kilometres into the stage.  The organisers have delivered a bit of a masterstroke by positioning the first KOM climb of the Tour just 6.5km into the stage.  There will be many candidates for the polka dot jersey, and many of those candidates not even necessarily needing to get into the break of the day to stake their claim for the jersey.

The final kilometre is all about the fast finishers, image ASO

The other point of interest is the intermediate sprint, our first indication of who will challenge Peter Sagan who will be looking to secure a sixth green jersey.  While the breakaway will likely mop up the first intermediate sprint points, there will still be a number of points up for grabs as the peloton roll through assuming that the break is small enough.

Finally at the end of the stage the first three riders will get time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds respectively.  Marcel Kittel of Quick-Step Floors is best placed of the sprinters in relation to the yellow jersey and with just 16 seconds between him and Geraint Thomas’ maillot jaune.  Expect him and his Quick-Step Floors team to be a commanding voice at the front of the peloton and look out for Jack Bauer to be taking his place in that train.

Marcel Kittel enjoys the accolades after taking his 9th Tour de France stage win, something he’ll look to add to in 2017, photo Sirotti

RoadCycling’s top 5 prediction:

1st:  Marcel Kittel

2nd:  Peter Sagan

3rd:  Nacer Bouhanni

4th:  Andre Greipel

5th:  Mark Cavendish

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