Tour de France 2013: Stage 2 preview

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Tour de France 2013 stage two
Sunday, June 30
From Bastia
To Ajaccio
Distance 154km
Stage type Medium mountains

Yellow jersey 2/5
Green jersey 3/5
Polka-dot jersey 2/5

We start the stage in Bastia, at the northern end of Corsica, in the island’s main port. If one of the locals makes a comment about the sea breeze, they’re not making polite conversation. They’re probably referring to the Corsican mafia, who used to hold meetings in a cafe of the same name in the port.

On the other side of the mountains that run down the backbone of Corsica, through the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse, we’ll arrive in Ajaccio, birthplace of Napoleon.

The mountains in Corsica are not quite on the same scale as the Alps, but the highest peak, Monte Cinto, is 2,706m, which cycling geeks (yes, you there, reading this) will know is higher than the Col du Galibier but lower than the Col d’Iseran.

The Tour organisers are packing innovation into the opening days of the race. To follow yesterday’s bunch sprint, stage two takes the riders into the mountains, the earliest incursion into proper uphill territory since 1992, when the Tour started in San Sebastian, in Spain, and went almost immediately into the Pyrenees.

The riders will follow the N193 southwest, and tackle four hard climbs. The Col de Bellagranajo is followed by the Col de Serra. There’s no descent from this climb, which is followed almost immediately by the Col de Vizzavona (1,163m). From here, it’s 60km to the finish, downhill, and then flat, with a short, sharp climb on a finishing lap around Ajaccio.

A bunch sprinter is going to start the stage in yellow, and finish it in the autobus. Unless it’s Peter Sagan, of course – we’re learning not to write him off.

With the territory on offer, we can make a good guess that whoever wants to spend the rest of the week in the polka dot jersey will be trying very hard to get into the escape. We can also assume that the field will split over the climbs. After that, it’s less easy to predict.

Nobody’s going to win or lose the Tour de France today. The probability is that, behind the escape group, at least 50 riders will make it to the finish together, simply because there’s such a long way to the line from the top of the climb.

The final short climb could split things up a bit, and the likely lack of sprinters will make chasing complicated. In short, we should get some quality, exciting and unpredictable racing today.

And then Peter Sagan will win.

Related links

Tour de France 2013: Coverage index