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Etoile de Bessèges (2.1) – Stage 2 preview

Main takeaways from stage 1:

Tomorrow a more typical sprint finish is coming up, but if the winds picks up there are chances of echelons. Sadly weather report so far tells us there is not much wind.

Especially in races like these I think it is also important to look at sprint trains, not every sprinter has their normal lead-out like they would have in a more important race like Paris – Nice. Pascal Ackermann is missing Selig because of a crash and also Schwarzmann isn’t here, he has to rely on youngsters Meeus and Gamper. Meeus is in good form, Ackermann was probably held up by one of the crashes in the final and Meeus managed to get 6th on stage 1.

Someone who has his entire lead-out train is Mads Pedersen, Mullen – Kirsch – Theuns – Pedersen is a proven train and I expect they will be there in the final kilometre with multiple riders. The sprint train with the most firepower is within the AG2R team, they got Naesen, van Avermaet and Touze to do a great lead-out for Marc Sarreau. But we don’t know if their coordination will be good.

We will also see the French sprinters again, Christophe Laporte, Nacer Bouhanni and Coquard. This stage is normally a bit too easy for Coquard, he lacks speed. Laporte’s train has quite a few new additions with Drucker and Bohli but also Morin (who crashed on stage 1) is someone he hasn’t ridden with much. I expect they will need some time to dial in coordination and timing and will get easily overruled in this field by Trek and AG2R who got more power.

Bouhanni has a strong sprint train and I expect a lot from him, form seems to be allright and he is motivated after a 2nd place. Gerben Thijssen is another rider to look for, got his ‘breakthrough’ in the Vuelta and will be motivated to get a win here with a lot of experienced riders like Degenkolb and Gilbert to bring him in a good position.

There are A LOT of sprinters here and I can’t go over them all in detail so a few quick ones:

  • Giacomo Nizzolo, weak train, missed training sessions due too knee injury
  • Tim Merlier, his normal lead-out Jonas Rickaert delivered a false positive Covid test, will struggle to find his way in the final
  • Pierre Barbier, crashed on stage 1
  • Timothy Dupont, safe bet for top 15
  • Rudy Barbier, actually quite good sprint train and he has the speed, usually good early in the season
  • Danny van Poppel, too easy for him, lacks speed
  • Edvald Boasson Hagen, in Marseillaise they went for Turgis so not sure if EBH focussed on his sprint in training dark horse for the win if everything falls into place for him
  • Jake Stewart, young talent who could surprise but seems like a little tougher finish suits him better

*** Mads Pedersen, Pascal Ackermann, Nacer Bouhanni

** Christophe Laporte, Rudy Barbier, Gerben Thijssen, Marc Sarreau

* Giacomo Nizzolo, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tim Merlier

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