There is a lot to play for in stage 2 of the Tour de France. The polka dot jersey will doubtless be hotly contested amongst any breakaway hopefuls, but the finish line too is something to sit up and take notice of; as the pure sprinters may well struggle.
Stage 2: Saint-Lo to Cherbourg-Octeville – 183 kilometres
With four category four climbs crested in the first 50 kilometres of the stage, expect the fireworks to start early, especially as the first climb is just ten kilometres into the race. With the polka dot jersey on the line these small climbs have increased significance early in the tour. An intermediate sprint follows at 107 kilometres, and one can expect that it will be contested between the members of a breakaway group.
However, it is the stage finish that could make this quite an interesting stage. The run in to the finish line includes the category three Cote de La Glacerie, starting some three kilometres from the finish and averaging 6,5 per cent over its 1,9 kilometre length. The steepest segment of the climb comes some one kilometre in, with the gradient kicking up to 14 per cent. Then there is a short, slight descent before the final kick up to the line, some 700 metres averaging just shy of six per cent.
This means that the finish will not suit the pure sprinters, which could see their teams taking less of an interest in bringing back any break that might be up the road, leaving it up to teams like Movistar and others that might have high hopes for punchy climbers like Valverde to do the work. The yellow jersey is also likely to find a new home after this stage, so there will be a lot to play for.