Tour de France stage 2 preview - Crosswinds could inspire fight for the yellow jersey

Stage 2: Roskilde to Nyborg

Date: July 2, 2022

Distance: 202.2km 

Stage timing: 12:15 - 16:59 CEST

Stage type: Flat

Following the fight for every second in the opening time trial in Copenhagen, the Tour de France will become a battle for positioning and of sprinting prowess on stage 2, with the finish in Nyborg coming after a loop around the rolling coastline of Zealand and then across the spectacular and exposed 18km Great Belt Bridge.

The time trialist will step aside and the Classics riders and the sprinters will take centre stage on Saturday. 

Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) will wear the yellow jersey after his time trial victory but Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and local Danish hero Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) will be hoping to dethrone him and take the race lead. 

The sprinters also fancy their chances, with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) convinced he can win, meaning that Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) will no doubt up there too if they can survive on the narrow, rolling country roads and then the fight for position on the 18km of the Great Belt Bridge. 

"The stages in Denmark will be really interesting,” van Aert predicted after his time trial performance put him within range of the yellow jersey.  

“The weather is unpredictable, everything depends on the forecast. For sure it's going to be a really nervous and tough day out. It's definitely the first day I'll try to take points and go for the bunch sprint."

Our video analysis of the best sprinters at the Tour this year

If there are cross winds on the bridge, it’s going to be carnage” warns Ewan

Stage 2 is the longest of the three Danish stages for this year's Tour de France, with the riders facing a nervous 202.2km in the saddle as they rub shoulders and touch wheels for the first time in this Tour.

The stage follows the coast line north and then south as if searching out the most exposed, most twisting roads of the area rather than a direct route to Nyborg.

Mads Pedersen will be happy to visit his home town of Holbæk but the Dane will have to focus on the racing if he wants to keep his dream of wearing the yellow jersey during the Denmark stages alive.

After 55 kilometres, the race enters Veddinge Bakker, a hilly area that includes three classified climbs for those who are targeting the polka-dot jersey. Asnæs Indelukke, Høve Stræde, nor Kårup Strandbakke are easy climbs for a Tour peloton but the narrow roads and risk of crashes could be more of a difficulty than the hills themselves.

The intermediate sprint is held in Kalundborg, with 75km to go, with a fight expected for the 3-2-1 time bonuses and green jersey points.

Van Aert will want to move close to yellow and score points, while Jakobsen will try to defend Lampaert’s jersey and Pedersen could try to move within range of yellow too. Of course the sprint teams will have to close down any breakaway attempts first and so may prefer to save their effort for the Great Belt Bridge and the highly expected final sprint finish.

The bridge crossing starts with 21 km to go, first on the East Bridge, a suspension bridge that takes the peloton to an altitude of over 60 metres. The race will cross the small island of Sprogø to reach the West Bridge, a lower box-girder bridge that is only about 20 metres above sea level. The stage route leaves the bridge at the three-kilometre mark and turns into the finishing straight with 700 metres to go, finishing just outside the centre of Nyborg.

The risk of strong winds and the risk of cross winds no doubt a number of directeur sportif a sleepless night.

The latest forecasts predict dry sunny weather but with a 20km southwest wind. It will blow across the Zealand coastline, perhaps inspiring echelon attacks and splits in the peloton and then blow as a cross/head wind on the first sector of the bridge and more of a headwind on the later second part.

A headwind will blunt any attacks but inspire an even bigger fight for positioning. One touch ofd wheel and riders could go down like bowling pins at 60km/h.

The 10-6-4 second time bonuses at the finish will be as valuable as the stage victory. Van Aert will no doubt be aiming for both. Lampaert will have to put his faith in Jakobsen and hope a perfect yellow-jersey lead out can help him stop van Aert’s ambitions. Van der Poel, Pedersen and everyone else will be waiting for their own chance. A split in the peloton could change everything and offer the yellow jersey as a reward for aggressive racing.

Ewan made it clear that he should not be written off. He stayed safe during the opening time trial but wants to start his sprinting campaign as soon as possible.

“There aren't that many chances at this Tour and so we have to take them when they come,” he told Cyclingnews.

“Stage 2 is a chance for me for sure. We have a Classics style team and so I think the stage should suit us.”

Ewan’s climbing and positioning skills have improved significantly in recent years, making him a Milan-San Remo and Classics contender. However he is concerned about the winds and its effects, offering a stark warning.

“We’re not worrying just about the bridge, we’re thinking of the whole stage,” he said.

“We’re pretty sure it’ll be a head wind on the bridge but things can change. If there are cross winds on the bridge, it’s going to be carnage.”

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