Tour preview: Stage 2

This stage is classified as flat but it has nine climbs so it’s up and down all day before they hit Sheffield.

Sunday 6th July: Stage 2 – York to Sheffield, flat, 201km

If some riders were surprised by the severity of yesterday’s three climbs, I really hope they’ve read their road-books overnight. Nine climbs today – starting with the wonderfully named Côte de Blubberhouses – three cat 4s, five cat 3s and one cat 2, so it’s more like a Belgian classic than a straightforward sprint stage.

Four of those hills come in the final 35km – the last just 5km from the finish – with average gradients of 6.1%, 7.4%, 9.1% and finally 10.8% on the 800-metre ascent of Jenkin Road. And if a solo rider or a small group can get away, a flat final 4km that twists and turns fiendishly will be helpful in holding off the peloton.

This is the kind of territory that Ardennes specialists and strong men such as Peter Sagan will love. Or Fabian Cancellara* might just think he’s in Flanders and make a break to time-trial his way to the finish.

If it does come down to a bunch sprint, it’ll be scrappy and the peloton will be a lot thinner than yesterday. Marcel Kittel‘s stint in the maillot jaune could come to an abrupt end today. And, after yesterday’s crash left him with a dislocated shoulder, it will be an achievement for Mark Cavendish to even make it to the start and finish.

TdF 2014 St 2 profile

* I’m going to keep saying it until Fabs wins a stage …

Link: Official website

Header image: Holme Moss, Yorkshire

3 thoughts on “Tour preview: Stage 2

  1. Interested in hearing your thoughts (looking back now) at Holme Moss in Stage 2. I don’t know much about Le Tour or cycling in general really. But the crowds up there were insane! I just wondered how that compares to previous years and locations?

    • It was a great stage – there was talk that it would be a great one-day classic, along the lines of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Amazing crowds – like it was one of the Alpine stages in the Tour! It’s up there with other great Tour stages.

    • I believe there were 60,000 people on Holme Moss alone – incredible for what’s a relatively small climb. Estimates vary (and are inevitably wildly inaccurate) but there was talk of up to 2m spectators for each of the Yorkshire stages. I don’t think there were anywhere near as many in London – not surprising for a work day – but nonetheless the turnout was excellent. Kitty and I were along the Embankment just inside 3km and the crowds were five or six deep in places, even that far out from the finish.

      General consensus is that Yorkshire had close to double the number of spectators relative to the prologue/stage 1 in London in 2007. And contrast that to the Tour’s first visit to the UK in 1974 where the peloton raced up and down a bypass in front of a paltry 20,000 crowd.

      As a sport, cycling has come a long way in the past generation – and while many of the spectators on the roads will never be more than ‘curious’, hopefully it will have encouraged some new casual fans and converted others from casual to more regular followers of the sport.

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