After yesterday’s predictable sprint finish but unpredictable winner, today’s stage 2 of the Tour de France, in and out of Nice is anything but nice. Unusually for so early in the tour it features two First Category climbs in a truly testing route.
Later this week there are some hilltop finishes which suggests that the yellow jersey contenders may want to keep their powder dry for those tests, which includes keeping the team fresh and intact. So this looks more like a day for a Classic style rider, able to get in a break, must climb well, must descend well with a crucial descent just before the line and must have a final kick if still in company.
A shortlist of five should include Classic giants Julian Alaphillippe and Wout Van Aert, as well as perennial early break artist Thomas de Gendt, former Mountains King Warren Barguil and hopefully soon to be Mountains King Sergio Higuita.
With a slight doubt if Higuita will be given free reign quite so early, and whether Van Aert can climb quite well enough for this test, the obvious pick is stage favourite Alaphillippe.
He held yellow for a long period last year, and looks like he could grab it again here. An excellent breakaway artist, he is another former King of the Mountains, descends superbly and sprints. The only question is if he’ll be allowed enough rope by the GC contenders. We think he is just far enough from the GC consideration to be alllowed in the break. If he makes it in he becomes pretty much odds-on, so the price looks attractive.
Julian Alaphillippe to win Stage 2 Tour de France: 1pt win, 4/1 generally available
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