It was a fantastic first stage in Aalborg and the weather decided to play its part too. Tomorrow, we move south towards Silkeborg.
The stage holds 1400 climbing meters, that is more than today. The finish was used in 2019, seeing Tiesj Benoot win from a seven-man group. You can watch that here, if that is to your interest.
This year around, they only do three ascents compared to the four times in 2019.
Positioning will be important heading into the climb as road furniture just before the right hander either will create a narrowing or a fast-or-slow option. In 2019, it was the second option.
The descent is fairly easy due to the fact it is straight. However, watch out for the five central reserves. Then two right hand turns before the run in. If you get a gap on the climb, it is so difficult to get caught as it is mostly downhill.
Cloudy and wind from the west (4 m/s). It will not matter too much in the city, but a headwind sprint and crosswind on the climb.
How will the stage unfold?
It was clear a few teams were stronger than the others. Let’s break them down.
Uno-X: It is time to go all out for Wærenskjold. He is now in the lead by 10 seconds to Jakobsen, but more importantly 12 seconds to Mads Pedersen. They will have to pace the ascends fiercely, and set up a tempo the Norweigan can hold. Charmig looked very good today on the bike, he should have waited a few days to sign the Astana contract. Larsen and Norman also showed their fine form coming straight from Worlds. Set up a tempo that makes it difficult to attack.
Trek-Segafredo: If someone was unlucky, it was Mads Pedersen with two punctures inside the last 55 km. That meant they only really pushed it once on the climb which wasn’t enough. Skuijns, Pedersen and Skjelmose need to attack tomorrow and I would not wait for the final ascent. I would have Bernard pushing it up the first time, leaving it to Skujins on the penultimate time up with Mads and Skjelmose pushing it over the top. If it isn’t enough, third time is sometimes the charm. They must try to distance Jakobsen and aim for the bonus seconds. Or maybe they should save their bullets for stage 3.
EF: They managed to limit the damage too. Cort lost his chain, Honoré and Valgren with punctures. I they this is a very fine stage for Cort in a reduced sprint but he knows it will be difficult to beat Pedersen. Valgren is on his way back and almost had a successful attacking before being pushed onto the pavement. They must be visible near the front and aim to have multiple riders in a potential move, so they can have one of them attack like Benoot did in 2019.
Uno-X should aim to focus all their attention on Wærenskjold, Lidl-Trek should aim make it tough for Jakobsen and save bullets for stage 3 and EF should try to animate attacks with Alpecin-Deceuninck.
Pedersen – A big performance today. Two punctures and 3rd in the end. I do not think they can distance Wærenskjold and that must be the main objective. If they are going to distance Jakobsen, he must be willing to attack too. We will see what he decides last time up the Hvinningsdalvej
Skjelmose – The attack today was not impressive. It was too late. It was difficult on the climb simply because of the length. I think tomorrow is a bit too easy too. Save your bullets.
Skuijns – We will likely see him working his ass off for the Danes in his team but that does not mean there isn’t a chance of him benefitting from it. I think most of the eyes are on Pedersen and Skjelmose.
Wærenskjold – what a win and what a timing. I think they will keep the jersey, they got the team for it. It is all about keeping him near the front and letting him dictate the pace. Charmig will be worth his weight in gold tomorrow.
Jakobsen – managed to keep up. “He is distanced” was said on Danish TV when he bridged the gap to the leaders of six at the time. He is climbing mighty fine and the hills tomorrow should suit him better. Casper Pedersen will survive the hills too, and having a dedicated lead-out man is important.
Lund Andresen – 4th today by the young Danish sprinter. I assume we will see a top-5 again tomorrow.
Valgren – He looked good today despite having a puncture in the finale. He made a move but was blocked and as the gentleman he is, he said after the race it is not where one should attack just because other do so. Given his form and his history in this race, he is a solid option for a late attack.
Cort – As mentioned, had to change/stop to fix his chain on the circuit. Thereby, the result of finishing in the main group was impressive. Tomorrow needs to be as tough as today which I doubt it will be. Still, a podium contender.
Van Moer – Late attack #1. On the move a few times today.
SKA – Late attack #2. Not too visible today.
⭐⭐⭐ Wærenskjold, Pedersen
⭐⭐ Cort, Lund Andresen, Skjelmose
⭐ SKA, Van Moer, Valgren, Skujins
Who will win?
I have a feeling that Trek-Segafredo knows the main battle is on stage 3 in Vejle. I also like what I saw from Fabio today and I like his chances for tomorrow. A win for Jakobsen.