Two GC contenders on the ropes after two days at the Tour de France

Contador and Porte stumble in Normandy, while Froome, Quintana and Aru keep their powder dry

Two stages into the 2016 Tour de France and we already have casualties among the contenders for the maillot jaune, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing) the patients in need of the most treatment.

Meanwhile, Chris Froome, Fabio Aru, Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet and Tejay van Garderen have come through the opening pair unscathed. Thibaut Pinot and Vincenzo Nibali sit somewhere in the middle, after both lost a handful of seconds on stage 2 but are still close to their principle rivals.

The yellow jersey has changed hands twice in two days, with Mark Cavendish wearing his first-ever maillot jaune after winning stage 1, and Peter Sagan sprinting into his first-ever Tour de France overall lead Sunday ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep). Although most of the general classification contenders finished with the same time, the Tour de France is never short on surprises.

There may not have been a time trial or prologue to open this year’s Tour de France, but time gaps have already been created.

Froome, Quintana and Aru

Three of the principle Tour favourites have ridden almost faultless opening weekends in the Tour. Froome has never been off the front, and although Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe fell on the opening stage, Froome can tick off two tricky stages. He was one of the best-placed GC riders on the finishing climb on stage 2, and his teammates have not had to spend hours on the front chasing or working.

It’s very much same for Quintana and Aru, although their principle wingmen in Valverde and Nibali have performed differently – the Spaniard gaining a few seconds on stage 2, while Nibali lost time and is still feeling his way back into racing after a long break following the Giro d’Italia.

Contador in trouble

Richie Porte may have lost the most time – 1:45 after a late puncture on stage 2 – but it’s Alberto Contador who is in the most uncomfortable position, having conceded another 48 seconds during stage 2 and sitting in 61st position on GC. Two falls in two days will hurt with all of that lost skin, but his pride might be the most damage; the Spaniard, in his post-race interviews, talked about his suffering morale. That he was unable to hold on during such a shallow climb to finish stage 2 will be encouraging for his main rivals. What will certainly be telling is whether Tinkoff will look to defend Sagan’s overall lead during stage 3 or force the sprinters’ teams to chase the break. If they perform to the former then it will be indication of their lack of confidence in Contador.

Porte's problems

As for Porte, his GC ambitions have taken an unhealthy but not yet terminal turn. Losing 1:45 to Froome even at this early stage in the race will not determine the Australian’s final place in Paris, but it will start to turn the focus of leadership away from him and towards his teammate van Garderen. Porte cannot afford any more mishaps if he is to retain the support of his teammates before the race hits the mountains. 

Tour de France GC contenders relative to the race leader
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team8:34:42 
3Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:10 
4Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:14 
5Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky  
7Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team  
11Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
12Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale-Drapac  
17Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
18Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team  
23Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
26Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha  
28Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:00:25 
31Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ  
62Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team0:01:02 
81Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:01:59 

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