Good morning and welcome to live coverage of the Tour de l'Ain stage 2.
If you didn't see yesterday's stage, then you can catch up with what happened in our race report above. Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-QuickStep) took the victory in a thrilling finale that saw Tom Dumoulin lead out Primoz Roglic.
Présentation en cours ☀️#TOURDELAIN #TDA pic.twitter.com/JDM8AFZFT2August 8, 2020
The race start is less than 30 minutes away. After yesterday's undulating offering, today is a much more mountainous affair with five classified climbs across 140km of racing.
Before we go any further, let's take a look at how the general classification stands.
1 Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep 3:16:50
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:04
3 Stefan Bissegger (Swi) Switzerland 0:00:06
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:10
5 Erik Fetter (Hun) Kometa Xstra
6 Giacomo Garavaglia (Ita) Kometa Xstra
7 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
8 João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-Quickstep
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10 Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
Don't forget, it is also Milan-San Remo today. Follow all the action live with Patrick Fletcher here.
There's definitely time to follow both. With such a short stage here at the Tour de l'Ain, we're likely to see some fast and furious action from the off. Today's stage will finish well before the finale in San Remo.
The Tour de Pologne is also going on this weekend. Dylan Groenwegen was disqualified from the race after causing a crash at the end of stage 1, which resulted in some traumatic injuries for Fabio Jakobsen. Groenewegen has now been suspended by his team and is under investigation by the UCI. Read the full story here.
The riders have set off for the neutralised start and we should have racing proper in just over five miniutes. This is your five-minute warning!
Deceuninck-QuickStep DS Rik van Slycke seems pretty relaxed going into today's stage. His team may have the leader's jersey but there is not much pressure on the team with some much bigger names elsewhere in the peloton. This is what he had to say before the start.
"It will be a very hard day with lots of climbing on narrow roads. There is a huge peloton with some big names so we will see what we can do today with the youngsters. They surprised us already by taking the victory so we are riding in the yellow leader’s jersey. Of course, we’re going to try to defend and see how far they can go among the big stars of the Tour de France. We are very excited to see what will happen today."
In a bit of mean spiritedness from the organisers, there is a small unclassified climb right after the official start. The first proper climb of the day comes approximately 18km into the day.
The toughest climb of the day will be the final one. The Côte de Menthières is 9.1km at an average of 6.3%. Strictly speaking, it's not the last ascent of the day as once the riders have descended the mountain there is a long unclassified climb up to the finish line, which could do some damage.
🇫🇷 #TourdelAinThe race just started in Lagnieu. It’s going to be a hot and exciting day ☀️🏔 pic.twitter.com/iWvbYSZzTdAugust 8, 2020
I mentioned the incident at the finish of stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne, where Fabio Jakobsen crashed really hard. It was awful to see but, thankfully, Deceuninck-QuickStep issued some reassuring news on his condition yesterday. You can find a full update on Jakobsen's condition here.
124km to go
A five-man escape group has gone up the road. I will bring you names as soon as I've fot them.
The riders are already onto the first of the five classified climbs. It is the Col de Montgriffon and it is 12.5km at an average of 4.1%.
The five team repesented in the breakaway are Groupama-FDJ, Trek-Segafredo, CCC Team, Israel Start-Up Nation and AG2R La Mondiale. Who the riders are, well that's still a mystery at the moment.
There is little respite for the riders in the first half of the stage. The descents off the climbs are minimal and the climbs are packed tightly together. It won't be long before we see a thinning out of the peloton.
At last, as Etta James once sang, we have the names of the riders in the breakaway. They are: Jaakko Hanninen (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Guglielmi (Groupama-FDJ), Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) and Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team).
The breakaway has about two minutes over the peloton, which is not keen to let these five riders have too much of a gap.
Les coureurs sont dans le 1er GPM de la journée. 📍Col de Montgriffon - 12,5km à 4,1%#TOURDELAIN #TDA pic.twitter.com/084IjWuyZRAugust 8, 2020
Deceuninck-QuickStep is leading the peloton at the moment, as they look to protect the leader's jersey. It will be a tough prospect for them on this terrain but they already upset the favourites yesterday, so I wouldn't dismiss their chances today.
We're onto climb number two for today. It is the Col des Pézières and it is 3.9km long with an average gradient of 6.9%.
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It is a pretty warm day out there in the Ain region of France. It was 29C at the start in Lagnieu and it's warming up as we approach midday. We can expect the temperatures to rise up to about 35C.
Julien Bernard took the points at the top of the first climb of the day and Simon Guglielmi took them on the second. There were some climbs yesterday and Ivan Centrone is currently the classification leader. He is not in the breakaway today so the jersey is up for grabs within this breakaway.
1 Ivan Centrone (Lux) Natura4ever-Roubaix-Lille Metropole 20
2 Martin Salmon (Ger) Team Sunweb 7
3 Michal Paluta (Pol) CCC Team 4
4 Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep 3
5 Joseph Rosskopf (USA) CCC Team 1
6 Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 1
The gap to the breakaway currently stands at 3:10.
Thanks to its position ahead of the Tour de France this year, due to the coronavirus disruption, the Tour de l'Ain has some big GC hitters in the peloton. Ineos and Jumbo Visma each have a formidable line-up with several Grand Tour winners in the pack. Today's finale is likely to see these two teams go head to head.
It will be interesting to see how Ineos play it as their three Tour de France champions, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, try to stamp their authority on proceedings ahead of the Grand Boucle. Froome, in particular, will have a bit to prove today after losing almost two minutes due to a mechanical issue.
85km to go
As the riders complete the third climb of the day, the gap has grown out a little bit more to 3:55. It's a cautious gap, given the short nature of the stage.
Trek-Segafredo has Bernard in the breakaway but they also have Richie Porte in the pack. Porte looked good recently at the Mont Ventoux Denivele Challenge. He didn't quite have enought to overhaul Vlasov for the win but it was a confidence-building showing for the Australian and he should be well in the mix today. He has Bauke Mollema for support, or as a second option for the team.