The 2018 Tour de France got off to a spectacular start on Saturday, with some of the top contenders for the yellow jersey already chasing their rivals in the standings entering Stage 2.
Both Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana lost time because of a crash and a mechanical, respectively, and the two will have to make up the lost time somewhere. It most likely won’t be in Stage 2, a flat affair that has another sprint finish written all over it.
Date: Sunday, July 8
Route: From Mouilleron-Saint Germain to La Roche-sur-Yon
TV Guide/Live Stream: Eurosport, ITV 4 (UK)/NBC (U.S.)
Here’s a look at the route for this year’s Tour:
Fans of the sport are already familiar with the Vendee region of France, which features regularly in the race. It’s mostly known for its beautiful beaches and coastal towns, but further inland, there’s plenty to be seen as well.
Because this stage takes place on those roads, wind should be less of a factor. The heat and expected high pace set by the sprint teams could be offset by what’s ahead―many of the top teams will have an eye on Monday’s team time trial event and opt to save their strength on Sunday. A bunch sprint is still expected, however.
Movistar and Sky will do whatever they can to shield their top guys, who both lost time to those who finished in the main group. Richie Porte and Simon Yates also fell behind, and while many noted it’s hardly a disaster at this stage of the race, it’s notable nonetheless:
There aren’t enough major obstacles in Sunday’s stage to spring a surprise, so the contenders for the general classification should simply cruise along and aim for Monday’s team time trial.
Fernando Gaviria won the opening stage and will be the favourite for the win on Sunday. The Colombian is the best pure power sprinter in the peloton and also has a phenomenal lead-out from his Quick-Step Floors team, which has bags of sprinting experience.
Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel will always be threats in a sprint, and Alexander Kristoff, John Degenkolb, Dylan Groenewegen and Christophe Laporte are also perfectly capable of sprinting to victory. But this early in the race, with everyone on mostly fresh legs, the edge usually goes to the most powerful man, and that’s Gaviria.