It is time for the first bunch sprint.
The route itself is not too difficult. We have a few climbs at the start where we potentially could see a large break goes but this is day two and the sprinters want their day.
There are some climbs far from home.
First is 3.7 km at 7%, the smaller is 2.5 km at 5.2%. It is far from home, with 72 km to go near the top. I think we should see all the sprinter still be in contention.
Not that easy. There is an imporant roundabout with 1.3 km left. It is important simply because the group will get stretched out. Then, one last corner under the flamme rouge. The last km is on a wide road so there will be time to move on.
Wind from the south, with a small chance of rain but it should stay dry. That means a bit of headwind in the sprint.
Pedersen – perhaps a bit too early in the race for him to really shine. He will be one of the quickest and he will have the help of Kirsch and some stronger rouleurs to keep him at the front. He should be fighting for the podium.
Gaviria – some win he took in Romandie! Seems to be his new move to jump early. With Kanter and Torres, he too should have the tools to fight for the podium.
Ackermann – a very up and down year for him. If you asked me a few years back, he would have been my favorite. He is lucky to have Gibbons here, he is terrific at getting at the right spot at the right moment. He is a dark horse given his results this year.
Groves – the team is all in for him on days like this. In the past, he struggled with his positioning. Given he has Sinkeldam here as his lead-out, he should be challenging for the win.
Dainese – seems that the season is over, another talent being DSM’ed.
Milan – strong time today. Does he have the speed to challenge for a stage win on such an easy stage? With Pasqualon here, one of them should finish inside the top-10.
Ballerini – Remco duty? He could challenge for a top-10.
Cavendish – I’m afraid they will drop him on the climbs. He is climbing like a statue. Finally, it seems he will have a bit of help – Battistella can find his way in a bunch sprint. I hope to see him challenging for the podium but a top-10 is more likely.
Albanese – too easy for him to be in contention for the win. A top-10.
Matthews – see above.
⭐⭐⭐ Pedersen, Gaviria
⭐⭐ Milan, Dainese, Ackermann
⭐ Albanese, Ballerini, Cavendish, Matthews
Who will win?
I like the look of Alpecin-Fenix. I think Groves and Gaviria are the quickest but Groves has the best team to ensure he will sprint from a good position.