Tour de France 2021 Guide
Stage 2 profile
Stage 2 of the 2021 Tour de France starts from Perros-Guirec, a seaside resort in northern Brittany. Riders will feel the Channel breeze early on before heading inland.
The stage has six classified climbs, which means that the leader of the KOM classification must join the breakaway to defend his polka-dot jersey. The Côte de Sainte-Barbe, the Côte de Pordic and the Côte de Saint-Brieuc are located at kilometers 72, 103 and 114, all offering a single point to the first runner on top.
The stage will change speed 20 kilometers from the end. Here the runners will lead the Brittany ripe for the first time which will also welcome the arrival of the stage. At 2 kilometers, the hill is not defined by its length. Instead, it features leg undermining percentages of an average of 10% over the first mile. The climb flattens out though, with the last mile averaging just 4%
Brittany ripe profile
It is quickly followed by the climb to Saint-Mayeux, less severe than the previous Mûr de Bretagne at 1.4 km and 5.5%. Both climbs offer ample opportunity to attack early, and 12 km from the finish line after the summit of the Saint-Mayeux ascent, some runners can play their card here.
The rest of the scene is simple. A descent for the next 10 kilometers will bring the runners back to the foot of the Brittany ripe. The final climb is where the stage will most likely be decided, and the favorites face a tough decision. Attacking at the base of the climb, where the most punishing percentages are, could provide the biggest advantage over the opposition. However, stranded attackers don’t have time to recover for a sprint that comes quickly.
Image credit: ASO / Aurélien Vialatte
With a similar and hilly stage at the opening of the Tour de France, the contenders for the first stage will again want to try their luck here.
Although it is slightly shorter than the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, where stage one finished, the Brittany ripe is steeper on average and may therefore be more suitable for pure punchers. This makes Julien alaphilippe the key favorite. The Frenchman finished fourth on the Brittany ripe in 2018, but will do everything possible to both win the stage and win the yellow jersey. This is exactly what Alaphilippe was able to do in stage 2 of the Tour de France last year but on a very different finish in Nice, where he beat Marc Hirschi and Adam Yates in the sprint. Could this be the glory of the second stage two years in a row for the world champion?
Mathieu van der Poel is another runner who will look forward to this finish with enthusiasm. The Dutchman is aiming for stage victories in his first Grand Tour. The flattening character of the Brittany ripe will suit the Dutchman, will he be able to withstand the tempo and keep in touch with the lighter runners until the last mile? If he can, few will be able to compete with Van der Poel.
Unlike Van der Poel, Wout Van Aert has experience in two editions of the Tour de France entering the 2021 race. He also has three stages in his pocket, and although he can fight for the stage, he might take care of his leader from the overall standings to the finish – a tie that Van der Poel doesn’t have to tolerate.
BikeExchange has a real chance with Michael Matthews. The Australian is triple winner of the Tour de France. Speaking ahead of the race, Matthews said: “The first two stages look pretty interesting. They are much tougher than people think. Matthews won the Brittany Classic last season which featured the Brittany ripe, although 200 kilometers from the finish line. If Matthews can withstand the initial steep inclines, he will be one of the fastest runners on the left.
Pierre Sagan, Sonny Colbrelli and Christophe Laporte are three other fast men who may struggle to stay ahead of the race but would have a good chance in the sprint if they are able to hang on to the wheels.
We should not rule out the possibility that there may be some serious action by the GC during the second stage – when the Tour visited the Brittany ripe in 2018, many riders who finished in the top 10 failed to finish in the leading group including Steven Kruijswijk and Tom Dumoulin, who suffered a mechanical 6 kilometers from the line.
Among the contenders for the GC, Primož Roglič and Thaddée Pogacar are the most likely to claim stage honors. Both are supreme on steep slopes and possess a quick acceleration towards the line that cannot be matched by anyone else vying for the yellow jersey.
Alejandro Valverde is now 41 years old and entering his fourteenth Tour de France, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of winning here. The form of the veteran Spain has improved this year, which culminated with a stage victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month.
It would be unfair not to mention the man who won here three years ago. It was Dan Martinof his second stage victory in the Tour de France, and it is plausible that he could have made it a hat-trick. It is not the only option of Israel Start-Up Nation, however. Mike Woods is the man supported as team leader throughout the Tour de France. The Canadian is particularly dangerous on short, steep hills, making the Brittany ripe a great opportunity for him.
We are supporting Primož Roglič to win the second stage of the Tour de France. Roglič started seven Grand Tours in his career and won at least one stage in each of them. The Slovenian has all the qualities to win on the Brittany ripe – he is one of the best at short, tight climbs and has a powerful sprint. After losing the yellow jersey in a discouraging fashion last year, Roglič and Jumbo-Visma will not hesitate to buy time at every opportunity this season.
Cover image: ASO / Pauline Ballet