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Tour de France 2018: Stage 2


There is no such thing as an easy day on the Tour de France, not least in the opening week of the race. Yesterday's opening stage was a case in point. The opening three-quarters of the stage were brisk but uneventful, only for the tone of the day to shift quite dramatic in a fraught finale, where Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Adam Yates and Nairo Quintana all lost ground after being caught up in crashes. Fernando Gaviria delivered a pitch-perfect sprint to take the first maillot jaune of the race, but a glance at the GC on Sunday morning proves - as though proof were needed - that the battle for yellow in Paris is already well underway.

The top 20 on general classification after stage 1 is as follows:

And here is an overview of how some of the notable GC contenders are situated ahead of stage 2:

Today's 182.5km leg from Mouilleron-Saint Germain to La Roche-Sur-Yon is another flat affair, with the category 4 Côte de Pouzauges at km 28 the only climb of the day. The intermediate sprint comes 50km from the finish, at Beaulieu-sous-la-Roche, while the time bonus sprint comes with just 14km remaining. The roll out is at 13.10 local time, with the peloton set to hit kilometre zero by 13.20.

The Tour peloton has rolled out from the start in Mouilleron-Saint-Germain beneath pleasant sunshine and is navigating the neutralised zone. The temperature is 25 degrees.

It's safe to assume Direct Energie will have a man in the early break. Several of their riders are lined up just behind the lead car, waiting for Christian Prudhomme to signal the official start of stage 2.

182km remaining from 182km

The break is not slipping as easily as it did yesterday, when the first attack succeeded. Direct Energie, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Trek-Segafredo and king of the mountains Kevin Ledanois (Fortuneo-Samsic) all seem keen to get up the road.

Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) tries his luck and opens a small gap. The Frenchman looks over his shoulder and sees some company coming across to him.

179km remaining from 182km

Kevin Ledanois attacks from the bunch, mindful that there are king of the mountains points on offer after just 28km, but Quick-Step immediately shut him down. Gaviria's men are happy with the current three-man break, but don't want any more riders to join that move.

178km remaining from 182km

Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac) has started today's stage despite fracturing his shoulder blade in a crash yesterday. The American was  betraying signs of struggling at the rear of the peloton in the opening kilometres, but he seems a little more comfortable now that the pace has abated. 

174km remaining from 182km

In transfer news, Cyclingnews has learned that Richie Porte is set to ride for Trek-Segafredo in 2019 after agreeing a two-year contract with the team. The move cannot be formally confirmed by either party before August 1, of course, as per UCI regulations. Dan Benson has more on Porte's impending switch from BMC here.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) endured a trying day on stage 1, as he crashed with a little over 5km to go after trying to squeeze past Rick Zabel. The Briton lost 51 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali, Tom Dumoulin and Romain Bardet but reported no lasting injury. Stephen Farrand captured this image of Froome on the start line today, where there was no audible booing from the crowds and even some words of encouragement.

166km remaining from 182km

Tim Declerq has taken up Julien Vermote's old role as Quick-Step Floors' breakaway killer. The Belgian is making his Tour debut, and is setting the tempo at the head of the peloton for the second day in a row.

Fernando Gaviria is in yellow this afternoon - and only the second Colombian to wear the maillot jaune - but in the longer-term, he might have designs on challenging Peter Sagan for the green jersey. "If we look at it, Peter is the favourite. He has won it five times, so he has to be the favourite," Gaviria said yesterday. "I’ll take the green jersey day-by-day, and first of all try to enjoy the race. If I have it in Paris, that's great. If not, no worries. I'll still have enjoyed the Tour and at the least I'll have won one stage." Patrick Fletcher has more here.

158km remaining from 182km

154km remaining from 182km

Marcel Kittel is wearing the green jersey this afternoon even though he only lies third in the points classification. Gaviria leads the competition, but is, of course, in the maillot jaune today after winning stage 1. Peter Sagan lies second in the points classification, and would ordinarily wear green in place of Gaviria, but as world champion he can choose not to don the jersey in these circumstances. Sagan has exercised that option, but somebody has to wear green - the sponsors would be upset if not - hence Kittel's unexpected green day.

149km remaining from 182km

Smith knows that he needs to be ahead of Ledanois on GC at day's end to move into the polka dot jersey, and this likely explains the decision to drop back to the bunch. 

142km remaining from 182km

Chavanel has ridden the Tour in all but one of his seasons as a professional. His first appearance came with Bonjour in 2001, his second year in the paid ranks, and this is his 18th successive start, a record. Chavanel won a stage in 2008 for Cofidis and two with Quick-Step in 2010, when he also wore the yellow jersey for two days. His only abandons came in 2007 and 2012.

135km remaining from 182km

Chavanel is familiar with the roads on today's stage, of course. He has already been through Les Herbiers, site of the Chrono des Nations, which he won in 2014. The 39-year-old is also a six-time national time trial champion, most recently in 2014.

130km remaining from 182km

A puncture for Richie Porte (BMC), but the pace in the peloton is relaxed, and the Tasmanian is in no particular hurry as he gets his wheel changed. Porte avoided crashing yesterday, but still lost 51 seconds, coming home alongside Chris Froome and Adam Yates. "It's swings and roundabout, this race. Guys took time today but the same might not happen tomorrow. The team were good around me today, and this is a shame but we'll see how the next few days go," Porte said afterwards. Read more here. You can read more on Porte's 2019 destination here.

126km remaining from 182km

121km remaining from 182km

Chavanel might have preferred some company at the head of the race, but this solo effort affords him the chance to be saluted by his public in what is set to be his final Tour.

116km remaining from 182km

Chavanel is approaching Treize-Septiers still with  a buffer of 4 minutes on the peloton. The thermometer has tipped above 30 degrees.

106km remaining from 182km

For now, the pace is slack enough for Peter Sagan to drop back in person to his Bora-Hansgrohe team car. He pulls over at the road side and hands off his helmet to a mechanic, who makes some adjustments. The world champion will soon be safely in the main peloton.

103km remaining from 182km

Sagan is amid the convoy of team cars and making his way calmly back into position in the main peloton. The world champion will fancy his chances in the event of a bunch sprint, particularly given the road twists and turns in the finale, and then rises slightly in the final kilometre - even though Gaviria looked a step ahead of the rest yesterday.

97km remaining from 182km

Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo) is the first rider to abandon the Tour de  France. The Ethiopian has climbed off at the feed zone and into a team car, his race at a most premature end.

90km remaining from 182km

88km remaining from 182km

83km remaining from 182km

A mechanical problem for Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (DImension Data), who slips a chain and takes a long, long time to re-ship. DS Roger Hammond emerges from the car to push him on his way once again.

78km remaining from 182km

Rudy Molard is having his shoulder, elbow and hip wounds treated by the race doctor before rejoining the main body of the peloton.

73km remaining from 182km

Richie Porte and his BMC team are placed towards the head of the peloton. There are twists and turns aplenty in the finale this afternoon, and positioning will be of pivotal importance.

67km remaining from 182km

The bunch spreads across the road as Quick-Step knock off their pace-making for the time being, satisfied that they will be able to pin back Chavanel in due course. The gap is back up to 3:30. 

63km remaining from 182km

61km remaining from 182km

Direct Energie have some riders near the head of the peloton perhaps with an eye to disrupting the chase, though for the time being, there isn't much of a chase to speak of. At that, mind, Tim Declerq resumes his position at the head of the bunch.

56km remaining from 182km

52km remaining from 182km

50km remaining from 182km

Bora-Hansgrohe take up the reins in the bunch ahead of the intermediate sprint... Groupama-FDJ are also in place for Arnaud Demare.

Sagan takes second place in the intermediate sprint, ahead of Gaviria, Alexander Kristoff and Demare.

There is a most amicable chat between Sagan and Gaviria immediately after the sprint. It's a long, long way from Kelly versus Vanderaerden... The two will expect to renew their good-natured rivalry in the finale this afternoon.

44km remaining from 182km

The top 10 in the intermediate sprint was as follows:

40km remaining from 182km

A Cofidis rider also went down in the same incident, but he was able to remount almost immediately. Sanchez, by contrast, is leaning against the bonnet of the Astana team car and seems to be in some distress. A replacement bike has been taken from the roof rack, but Sanchez shakes his head dolefully. It looks as though his Tour is over.

37km remaining from 182km

Dimension Data and Bora-Hansgrohe are coming to the front of the peloton in numbers in preparation for the finale. The GC contenders, meanwhile, are anxiously moving up and all keen to avoid the kind of drama that marked the closing kilometres yesterday.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) has become the second rider to abandon the Tour de France. Tsgabu Grmay abandoned earlier on stage 2, with Trek-Segafredo explaining that he was suffering from severe abdominal pain.

31km remaining from 182km

More ill fortune for Adam Yates, who crashes with a little over 31km to go. The Briton is unhurt but has to wait a while for a bike change and will have a desperate chase to get back on. He has Jack Bauer for company as he rides through the cars.

Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) was also a faller. The Swiss took some time to get going again, but he is back on his bike and chasing the peloton.

29km remaining from 182km

28km remaining from 182km

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25km remaining from 182km

Chavanel is betraying some signs of fatigue now, but he is maintaining a lead of 1:10 over the peloton, where Quick-Step are setting the pace.

23km remaining from 182km

Demare, of course, has some previous when it comes winning a sprint after chasing back on following a hold-up in the finale. He is still alone as he makes his way through the convoy of cars.

21km remaining from 182km

20km remaining from 182km

18km remaining from 182km

Chavanel looks over his shoulder and catches sight of the peloton for the first time. He grits his teeth and rises himself from the saddle. He's not ready to lay down arms just yet.

17km remaining from 182km

Team Sky move up to the front of the bunch ahead of this bonus sprint. BMC and Movistar are also mixing it with Quick-Step, Dimension Data and the sprint teams.

14km remaining from 182km

It looked like Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) picked up 2 seconds, while Geraint Thomas (Sky) nabbed a bonus second as they led the bunch across the line.

13km remaining from 182km

Confirmation of the order from that bonus sprint:

12km remaining from 182km

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The yellow jersey Fernando Gaviria has plenty of teammates around him near the head of the peloton on this run-in. Meanwhile, Luke Durbridge crashes at the rear of the bunch, though, mercifully, the Australian does not appear to have picked up serious injury.

5km remaining from 182km

4km remaining from 182km

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A crash on a sharp right-hand bend in the final 2km, and Gaviria is among the riders caught up. He will not win the stage today. Michael Matthews has also been caught in that crash.

1km remaining from 182km

Alaphilippe tries to jump from distance, but he can't get a gap...

Demare opens the sprint, but Sagan is on his wheel...

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 2 of the Tour de France.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) took second, while Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) placed third.

Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) was 4th, while Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) took 5th.

Peter Sagan will be in the yellow jersey tomorrow thanks to the 10-second bonus for winning the stage. 



General classification after stage 2:

Peter Sagan speaks: "I am really happy for today. I have to say a big thanks to all my teammates. We were in front all of the last 30k. In the end, expected something more easy but it was really tough, up and down, with climbs and descents. I said it was better to start [the sprint] later today. Demare started with Degenkolb and I overtook them but I was really lucky Colbrelli didn’t jump me."

It was a fraught finale, as per usual in the opening week of the Tour de France. Gaviria was among the riders to be held up in the crash on that sharp right-hander just inside the final 2km. Only 15 or so riders avoided being held up, and Quick-Step tried to make the best of a bad situation with Gilbert and Alaphilippe, but they were unable to out-manoeuvre the fast men who remained in front. Demare went from distance, but Sagan was on his wheel and produced a fine sprint effort. Colbrelli was closing at a rate of knots but just ran out of road in his bid to claim stage honours.

Heinrich Haussler went down in that crash, but the Australian has reported no lasting injury. Gaviria, likewise, was unhurt, and crossed the line in the main peloton. He will wear the white jersey of best young rider tomorrow, but the team time trial might - might - give him a chance to win back yellow. Geraint Thomas (7th overall at 15 seconds) is also well placed for a tilt at the overall lead.

A report, results and pictures from today's stage are available here.

Meanwhile, Sky manager Dave Brailsford made a rare public pronouncement today, claiming that UCI president David Lappartient has "still got the local French mayor kind of mentality." Funny that: there are some who reckon Dave Brailsford has got the tawdry nightclub bouncer kind of mentality when it comes to, say, Tour de France rest day press conferences. Patrick Fletcher has the full story here

 Meanwhile, Sky manager Dave Brailsford made a rare public pronouncement today, claiming that UCI president David Lappartient has "still got the local French mayor kind of mentality." Funny that: there are some who reckon Dave Brailsford has got the tawdry nightclub bouncer kind of mentality when it comes to, say, Tour de France rest day press conferences. Ho hum. Patrick Fletcher has the full story here.


General classification after stage 2:

This, incidentally, is the team classification after stage 2. Teams set off in reverse order of these standings for tomorrow's team time trial, meaning that Sky and Mitchelton-Scott will be the first two squads to tackle the course.

Some of the snap reactions from the protagonists of today's stage are available to read here. Stephen Farrand and Patrick Fletcher will have more in-depth news and reaction from La Roche-sur-Yon in due course.

Lawson Craddock, incidentally, made it safely to the end of today's stage. He crossed the line in the last group on the road, which came in 3:03 down on Sagan. 

Thanks for following our live coverage on Cyclingnews today. A full, report, results and pictures are here. We'll be back with more from tomorrow's team time trial, and in the meantime, Stephen Farrand and Patrick Fletcher will have all the news and reaction from today's action.


General classification after stage 2:

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