Criterium du Dauphiné 2021 – Stage 2 preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Criterium du Dauphiné 2021 – Stage 2 preview

By David Hunter

Brioude > Saugues 173km

Another stage that will interest different types of riders.

The opening 40km is flat, but the rest of the stage is constantly up and down. We do have a cat 1 climb after 40km, 8.6km at 7%, but that will be ridden at tempo as the break will already be up the road. This stage is all about the final 15km.

Key Points

Similar to the opening stage, the organisers have split the climb into two. The first section is a cat 2 effort 7.4km at 6.2%. The road then goes down for a kilometre before kicking up at 4.9% for 1.6km. From the crest there is just 4km to go, nearly all of it is downhill.

The climb is a strange one as the gradient is constantly changing, making it impossible to settle into any sort of rhythm. I think it’s tougher than it looks.

Finale

If we do get some type of sprint, riders will need to make sure they’ve done their homework. The final 300m averages 3.4%, those that go too early won’t win.

Weather

Another nice day for the bunch. The wind is light, but it will be a welcome headwind for the final climbs and run for home. At 5km/h, it might not be enough to save the fast men.

Tactics

Lotto Soudal are in control of the yellow jersey, but even though Van Moer won’t be in yellow at the end of the stage, I expect them to control the stage. The problem is they have a young squad with them, they’ll need some help chasing down the break. Today showed that the sprint teams are weak, they don’t have the power required, but I seriously doubt any sprinters will survive this finish.

7.4km at 6.2% is tough, especially with a light tailwind. The straight road is good for those looking to hide in the peloton, they’ll get a significant benefit from drafting, but I still think it’s going to be too hard for them. The big problem is the gap of just 4km from the top of the last climb to the finish, the GC teams will make sure the pace is up and the sprinters will blow.

So, what type of rider can win this stage? Just like today the morning break has a chance, quite a few riders are down on GC, but there is a big chance someone high in the rankings will jump in the move. This will force Lotto Soudal into chasing it down and setting up a big finish. Puncheurs and climbers will like the look of the finish, we must see big attacks on the climb, even from some of the main GC riders. We could well see a small group escape on the climb and fight out the stage win.

Contenders

Sonny Colbrelli – the climb looks too hard for him; the GC teams will hit it hard.

Alex Aranburu – he can climb better than Colbrelli, this is a very good stage for him. One potential problem is holding the race together for a sprint finish, I don’t think his team is strong enough to do this. He’ll need another team to bring it back together, which might not happen.

Kasper Asgreen – a great rider for this stage. He has the punch to deal with the climb and he packs a fine sprint. Asgreen was always up near the front today, he looks to have maintained his form from the Algarve. Unfortunately for him Deceuninck – Quick Step don’t have their strongest team at this race, Asgreen will have to cover some moves himself.

Tim Wellens – today was perfect for him, but he couldn’t attack as his teammate was up the road. This is another stage that will interest the Belgian, when he attacks who is going to chase? Wellens isn’t a GC contender, there is no need for Ineos to counter his move, he could get a little freedom compared to some of the others. Consecutive wins for Lotto Soudal would be wonderful.

Geraint Thomas – why not? Ineos will be the team dominating the closing stages, if there is an opportunity to take a flyer, Thomas will take it. After recently tasting success for the first time in a while, he’ll have the taste for it. He does have Kwiatkowski as a good option, but you know how Ineos usually ride.

Guillaume Martin – the talented climber is currently enjoying some fine form. He isn’t an obvious favourite for this stage, but if they climb is more selective than it looks, he’ll be up there fighting for the win.

Wilco Kelderman – good climber, fast finish.

Alejandro Valverde – he was in great form earlier in the season, what is his current level like? A few years back he’d have been the massive favourite for this type of stage.

Dylan Teuns – another one of the punchy riders who’ll like this finish, but it’s been a while since he took a win.

Warren Barguil – 5th in Flèche Wallonne was an impressive result for him, it hints at very good legs. He was another who was up near the front today, he’d love to take a win on home soil.

Ben O’Connor – current form is very good, AG2R would love to take a stage win in this race. Some eyes will be on Van Avermaet, but I think their Aussie also has an option.

Greg Van Avermaet – he should be in good climbing form this close to the Tour. Greg will hope to hang with the climbers and then sprint for the stage. His chance of success depends on him surviving and the size of the group.

Alexey Lutsenko – needs a win.

Prediction Time

I think this finish can be explosive, I’ll take a win for Kasper Asgreen.

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