Jul 6, 2014

Tour de France Stage 2 Review/Stage 3 Preview

Stage 2 Review

Stage winner: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
A surprise winner maybe as nobody thought one of the true GC contenders would take the yellow jersey this early. Still, Nibali’s late attack was at a perfect time as none of the other teams wanted to chase and drag Peter Sagan to the finish and Sagan didn’t want to chase himself and drag Greg Van Avermaet to the finish to beat him in sprint. The indecision gave Nibali just enough time to take the win.

Yellow Jersey: Nibali
Nibali also took the yellow jersey. You can make the case Sagan should have chased as with the countback of positions including yesterday, Sagan would have taken the yellow jersey even in defeat had he finished on the same time as the stage winner.

In bigger news, this turned out to be a GC fight. All of the expected big names were in the fight at the end. Nibali is the big winner as he gained two seconds with his attack and stage win. Further down, it was confirmed that Joaquin Rodriguez is not riding this Tour for GC (he had said as much and very few believed him) after he lost over 14 minutes on the stage today.

Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Sagan is now the leader by a wide margin. There are more stages like today’s and here is also the cobbled stage where Sagan has the advantage over other contenders. Given all of that, it is unlikely anyone catches Sagan without problems or a crash.

King of the Mountains: Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis)
Good for Cofidis to have something occur in their favor. It has been many years since something good happened to this team at the Tour. Lemoine should celebrate as with not climbs on the stage 3 parcours, he is assured a second day in the Polka Dot Jersey.

White Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
If nothing else, Sagan acquitted himself very well in the climbs. It would be interesting to see how he would do at Liege-Bastogne-Liege (that race is a bit too late on the calendar for someone like Sagan who targets the cobblestone races and also Milan-San Remo). He will likely hold this jersey until the real mountains, though he won’t be wearing it as long as he holds the green jersey.

Tactical Masterclass: Astana
Nibali’s attack and stage win did not happen in a vacuum. He can thank his top domestique Jakob Fuglsang who attacked twice after the summit of the final climb. The second one softened the rest of the group up enough for Nibali to get away with his own attack. Smart riding from Astana and also good job to be one of just four teams to have more than one rider in the final group (Sky, BMC and AG2R La Mondiale were the others).

Tactical Blunder: Cannondale
As has been the case time after time, Sagan used all of his teammates too early and then couldn’t figure out if he was an attacker or a sprinter. Had Sagan had even one teammate left after the final climb, this wouldn’t have been a problem as he could have put his man on the front to drive the group and peg Nibali back. Or he could have sent his teammate up the road like Nibali did Fuglsang and then responded with an attack when his teammate was caught. Either way, Sagan needs to learn how to not burn his entire team too early and his DS in the car needs to be on the radio keeping Sagan from putting his men on the front too early.

Stage 2 - Cambridge to London

Expectations entering the stage: Sprint battle royale. There are no categorized climbs on this route. Nobody should be troubled on this day except for the possibility of crashes, especially during the final sprint.

Jersey’s in play
None. Yellow Jersey Nibali will not be troubled at all on this stage. Sagan is going to keep the White Jersey and he’ll score enough points himself that the Green Jersey won’t change hands. And the stage has no climbs for Cyril Lemoine to lose his Polka Dot Jersey on. This will be rare during the Tour, but none of the jerseys are even real options tomorrow.

GC items of note: Nothing at all. All will easily finish in the main field barring crashes.

Stage Pick: Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)

After what we saw in the early stages of the Giro d’Italia and the first stage of this Tour, it would be crazy to not pick Kittel on a stage like this, especially with Mark Cavendish having been forced to abandon after his stage 1 crash.

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