2018 Tour de France: Stage 2 Preview

This is the other side of the Vendée province: no more beaches and wind but a quiet countryside with a lot of local factories.

Stage 2 starts from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain, the reunion of two villages, Mouilleron-en-Pareds being the native place of Georges Clemenceau, the French politician who directed the government during World War I and remained the "Père la Victoire" (father victory).

The category 4 climb côte de Pouzauges after 28km is supposed to give birth to a breakaway before visiting Les Herbiers, the home of the Chrono des Nations that puts the curtain of the European cycling season down every October. Roads in this part of the Vendée can be demanding in case of a hot weather.

The last 50km will be very nervous before a highly anticipated second bunch sprint in La Roche-sur-Yon, the province's capital that didn't host the Tour since 1938. It's another wink to French history in the city called Napoleon-Vendée when founded by the Emperor in 1804 to prevent another royalist rebellion.

Matt White says: Looking at the rosters, I was really surprised by the lack of big guys that some teams have included. I think that some teams have underestimated the first nine days at the Tour de France. There are a couple of teams who have one or two guys to help for some of the flat tough sections but if one of those two guys punctures or crashes then you’re leaving your Tour de France leader with perhaps one guy if the wind splits the race. Some teams have gone top-heavy with the climbers. Some of the teams have done that because they don’t have the availability of the guys for the flats, while some teams have taken the tactical decision to load their teams up for the second half of the race.


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