Native fans were left applauding the exploits of a Welshman in Düsseldorf on the opening day, as Geraint Thomas secured the first maillot jaune of his career and of 2017’s race. Though Thomas has always possessed a knack for prologues since joining the road alongside his track exploits, these talents had been in hibernation for sometime. Seeing them reappear and topple the giant that is Tony Martin on course meant for the world champion was extraordinary. The second stage of Le Tour de France is a 203.5km jaunt from Düsseldorf to the iconic cycling town of Liège, crossing the border into Belgium along the way. Other than a few rolling roads late in the day, the expectation is that we shall witness the first bunch sprint of this year’s race, though vicious crosswinds could cause issues amongst a nervous peloton.
Marcel Kittel will be the best hope for German fans to recoup their losses after yesterday’s disappointment, the sprinting ace poised to dominant this long and wide finishing straight in Liège. Quick-Step look to have improved greatly in regards to leading Kittel out in sprints this season and shall be confident of executing a perfect finale in order to take a win on home-soil for the Belgian outfit. With so few technical qualms to worry about, Marcel Kittel will be able to focus on laying down the watts and burying the opposition.
André Greipel could make this a clash between two German powerhouses on Stage 2, given that the finale itself looks tailor-made for his high power drag race style of sprinting. Though he is no longer able to realistically challenge for the sprinters jersey at a grand tour or gather himself a haul of wins, Greipel rarely leaves a race empty handed and will be fully aware of how great a gift this stage could prove.
Mark Cavendish seldom enters Le Tour de France as a wild card contender, but given his recent and ongoing illness, there is a great question mark hanging over his form at the moment. He is unlikely to have wished to force a fitter rider out of the team to simply be present at the race, suggesting that Cavendish does believe he can compete in the sprints here. His greatest ally on Stage 2 could prove to be the wind, as a headwind into the finishing line would allow him to utilise his aerodynamic style to pounce upon the larger figures of André Greipel and Marcel Kittel a whisker from the line
Dylan Groenewegen is now a familiar face amongst the big name sprinters and will be one to watch on this fast finishing run into Liège. Team LottoNL-Jumbo are well prepared to support their talented sprinter at the year’s biggest race, arriving here with a leadout train capable of challenging the likes of Quick-Step if performing at their best. The young Dutchman is extremely powerful, with a high top speed, making him a firm favourite to secure stage honours.
Other riders who should finish in the top ten are Peter Sagan, Nacer Bouhanni, Dan McLay and Arnaud Démare.
1st Marcel Kittel 2nd Dylan Groenewegen 3rd André Greipel