Sam Bennett (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) was the most heavily-backed favourite on the betting markets this morning. Who do you think will win? Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) are other obvious candidates. Ewan in particular will be one to watch – he can be very effective on uphill sprint finishes.
Here’s the GC top 10 as they stand after Stage 2:
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 8hr 41’35”
2 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +4”
3 Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) +7”
4 Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling) +17
5 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) (all same time)
6 Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott)
7 Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates)
8 Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Team Ineos)
9 Richard Carapaz (Team Ineos)
10 Tom Dumoulin (Team Jumbo-Visma)
at 7.16am EDT
There is a three-man breakaway who currently have an advantage of about 2’15” on the peloton. Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the polka-dots, Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Énergie) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) are the men in it. Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was there originally but has now dropped back to the bunch, leaving a 100 per cent French trio at the tête de la course.
The 2020 Tour de France seems to have begun on fast-forward. Long before the Covid-19 pandemic ensured this race would take place in extraordinary circumstances, the organisers had chosen to insert a mountain stage on just the second day, which is fairly extraordinary in itself.
Following a chaotic, crash-filled, rainswept first stage around Nice, won by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck–Quick-Step triumphed on Sunday’s remarkably early foray into the mountains. So, a Frenchman wears the yellow jersey as the world’s greatest race travels inland on today’s 198km trip from Nice to Sisteron, and all seems bien with the world, at least if you are French cycling fan casting an eye over the general classification. The polka-dot jersey is also on the shoulders of a Frenchman, Benoît Cosnefroy of AG2R La Mondiale, who has already snuck into today’s early breakaway.
The first half of today’s stage is going to be tough even if it already looks to have settled into a familiar pattern: the category-three Cols du Pilon and de le Faye come inside the first 65km, which is almost all uphill. There are four categorised climbs in all, with the Col de Lègues (category three) cresting at 117.5km and the Col de l’Orme (category four) at 152.5km. There is an intermediate sprint after 160.5km, coming in a final 70km which is almost all downhill. It looks set to a be textbook breakaway-followed-by-bunch-sprint kind of affair, with the sprinters’ teams almost guaranteed to bring it all back together for a bunch kick on an uphill finish in Sisteron.
But in this Tour de France with a difference, with the risk of cancellation hanging over the event, will some teams and riders regard this as something other than a day simply to be negotiated ahead of bigger tests to come? Can Alaphilippe stay in yellow? We will find out in a few hours’ time, and are sure to see some beautiful TV helicopter shots of from south of France along the way.
at 7.04am EDT