Stage 2 takes the peloton on a 183km jaunt from Saint-Lô to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, featuring rolling terrain which will allow a breakaway to spend the best part of the day out front, but the finale is poised to be an explosive affair for the big name puncheurs. Cote de la Glacerie forms the day’s uphill battle to the line, featuring an average gradient of 6.5% and maximum ramps of 10.5%; all of which culminate with a technical run into the finish were positional skill and strength will count for a lot.
Peter Sagan is the clear favourite to win Stage 2 after another monstrous performance at the Tour du Suisse which included victory on a similar finale to this. He has a deadly blend of technical ability and brute strength to stay out of trouble, which should guarantee himself a relatively clear charge to the line. Sagan’s teammates will need to be on form here, as late attacks are certain with the yellow jersey up for grabs, so gaps must be avoided if Sagan is to win in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin.
Greg Van Avermaet is of a similar ilk to Sagan in many respects and is bound to have circled today as a glorious chance to take a win, and the yellow jersey, with a single well timed attack. The Belgian will be familiar with this classics styled terrain which forms the finish, ideal territory for him to utilise as a launchpad to victory. His team are a real strength to him in pursuit of a win, so he should be well placed to contest the day’s honours here.
Tom Dumoulin is an intriguing prospect for today’s stage, the Dutchman appearing coiled to strike here and attempt to earn himself an extended stay in yellow during the first week. The last couple of years have demonstrated his great strength and tenacity convincingly, meaning he cannot be discounted from succeeding on Stage 2 with another ferocious move.
Julian Alaphilippe has developed rapidly to become of the biggest prospects for the Ardennes races, ability which has already seen his palmares grow. If he can avoid being isolated or boxed in towards the end of today, there will be great belief within his team that a win could very well be on the cards for him.
Michael Matthews was involved in one of the opening day’s crashes, but reports suggest he survived in good shape and should be supported by his team for the win on Stage 2. The Australian rider has a really talent for these uphill finishes, and despite not quite being tailor made for him, there is still a very strong possibility of him finishing the day victorious.
1st Michael Matthews 2nd Peter Sagan 3rd Greg Van Avermaet