Paris-Nice 2017 – Stage 2 Preview

By David Hunter

Rochefort en Yvelines – Amilly 195km

After the chaos of stage 1, we will have to wait and see if it’s a quiet day!

On paper, this is the easiest day of the race. Before the race started, the sprinters would have been looking forward to this one.

Weather

It’s going to rain all day long! The wind will be coming from the south-east, making it crosswind for a large amount of the stage. As they approach the finish town, the wind is predicted to move to a northerly direction, making more crosswinds. If today was crazy, this stage looks even worse!

Not all the forecasts agree. Some sites have it as a tailwind for most of the day. We will have to wait and see!!

Tactics

With Porte and Contador missing out today, expect a full assault from BMC and Trek-Segafredo. They are not used to missing out in windy conditions and they’ll want to make amends.

Quick-Step were brilliant today and they now have a cushion for their GC riders, Julian Alaphilippe and Dan Martin. As we know, the Belgian squad rarely miss out in tough conditions. They will be at the front of the race again in stage 2.

So what can we expect? It will be up to BMC and Trek to see if they can drop any of the GC riders who finished in the front group today. In will be difficult to drop Alaphilippe, but Dan Martin and Sergio Henao could be put under threat.

Also in the mix will be the sprint teams. FDJ were great today, having a full team supporting their sprinter made a massive difference. They will look to be present at the front of the race, but it’s hard to imagine Kristoff and Greipel not being there.

The other sprinter with a full team supporting their sprinter is Cofidis. They were poor today, Bouhanni was in the second group, but was dropped from it. He certainly seemed to lack support and I would imagine they’ll have been strong words in their team meeting tonight.

Finale

Very straightforward. No roundabouts, no corners, it’s paradise for the sprint trains, but will we get a sprint!?

Contenders

Arnaud Demare – such an impressive performance by him today, he’s looking good to retain his MSR crown. His team worked very well, all with the one goal of getting a stage. When Alaphilippe attacked, he managed to cover incredibly well. Demare goes into this stage without pressure, but he will want to capitalise on this good form.

Alexander Kristoff – won the bunch sprint for 3rd, but couldn’t follow the best on the climb. The Norwegian is a master in difficult conditions and it’s almost impossible to think that he might get dropped in echelons! With a solid lead out, he’ll look forward to this stage.

Marcel Kittel – worked very hard for his team today, he knew that final climb was too hard for him. This stage is different, as it’s completely flat, but he might be required for more domestique duties. Getting a good result on GC is more important to the team than a stage win. What role he fulfils in this stage really depends on the race situation. If we get a calm day, he starts as the big favourite.

Nacer Bouhanni – will not be happy about today. A lack of team support cost him dear, but I’m not sure it will be better in this stage. He was my pick for stage 1 and I still believe in him!

Andre Greipel – like Kittel, he was on domestique duties today. He worked very hard, in the wind, to try and help Tony Gallopin get a good result. Gallopin delivered and now stands a good chance of finishing in the overall top 5. Greipel is good in echelons, he will relish another tough day in the saddle. The flat finish is good news and he should be battling it out for the win.

Julian Alaphilippe – so close to a big win today, he was very impressive. He now finds himself in a strong position for the GC, it helps when you ride for Quick-Step! This stage is another where he should be put in a good position, right at the head of the race. For him to win the stage, the group will have to be very small.

Tony Gallopin – the classy Frenchman had a very good day. He now has a great chance of grabbing his best ever Paris-Nice result, another tough day will really help. Backed up by a strong Lotto team, he will look to take advantage of the echelons. If the group slims down, he has a fast sprint.

Oliver Naesen – without Bardet, the classics specialist should be let off the leash. Today was the first time for a long time he was actually dropped in a race. I expect the Belgian to come back fighting and put up a good show in this stage. Riding with total freedom, he will be a dangerous man and needs watched.

Prediction Time

Tough day in the saddle – echelons – rain – no climb at the end = Alexander Kristoff

*Overall preview

David Hunter

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