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Tour de France Guide: Week 2

If the riders thought the first week was tough, it’s not about to get any easier. As the Tour travels from Lavaur and Lyon, we take you through all that will come in between.

04 September 2020

In a Tour made for the mountain men, the second week sees us enter the race’s third range. With the Massif Central only just disappearing from the rear view mirror of the oddly shaped vehicles of the caravan, it’s into the Pyrenees for more tough climbing tests.

Two stages in the Pyrenees pose plenty of challenges including a scattering of iconic climbs from the Peyresourde to the Port de Balès. Later in the week, there’s a well deserved rest day and a conspicuously flat stage before the race returns to the Massif Central en route to the Rhône valley. Here’s what to look out for.

08.

Cazères-sur-Garonne - Loudenvielle

5.9.20 – 140km

 

As we enter the Pyrenees, the organisers have opted for a slightly more traditional stage. No high-altitude bike paths or mad cap summit finishes here but a tough day out nonetheless. With three climbs on the route, including the hors-catégorie Port de Balès, today’s stage will whittle the group of favourites down to only the strongest.

 

Who does it suit?

This more controllable, classic mountain stage would have suited the Sky train but the Grenadiers that have succeeded them look to be lacking a gear. Can Thibaut Pinot capitalise?

09.

Pau - Laruns

6.9.20 – 154km

 

Two years ago, we saw Primož Roglič descend into Laruns in hot pursuit of a podium placing. Though he may well be chasing an even bigger prize this time around, today is a stage for the breakaway. If the escapees can take the summit bonus seconds atop the Col de Marie Blanque 18 kilometres from home, it should neutralise the chase somewhat and ensure a breakaway win.

 

Who does it suit?

By this point in the race, some riders billed as GC men will already be fighting for stage wins and mountain points. We think the best of them will win here today, Julian Alaphilippe.

10.

Île d’Oléron - Île de Ré

8.9.20 – 170km

 

From mountain climbing to island hopping along France’s Atlantic coast on what is by far the flattest stage of the race. While the profile does show a net gain of eight metres of elevation, it could be the wind that plays the biggest role in today’s proceedings. With the powerful sprint teams to the fore, could a GC favourite be caught out?

 

Who does it suit?

For the stage winner, take your pick from Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett and Wout van Aert. We only hope that French hopes for the overall aren’t extinguished by a gust of wind.

11.

Châtelaillon-Plage - Poitiers

9.9.20 – 167km

 

The last time the Tour came to Poitiers in 1978, Sean Kelly took the stage win from a five-man break en route to one of four green jerseys. With opportunities few and far between for the sprinters this year, the break is unlikely to last the distance today but the finish here could weigh heavily on the green jersey standings.

 

Who does it suit?

Though the sprinting field is strong this year, there’s no dominant power. After early success for Caleb Ewan, we think Sam Bennett will follow in the tyre tracks of his hero and take the win.

12.

Chauvigny - Sarran Corrèze

10.9.20 – 218km

 

Forget the Alps and the Pyrenees, this year’s Tour is all about the Massif Central, it seems. With a profile that tracks surely but steadily uphill and four categorised climbs that are tough without being destructive, this is the best balanced stage of the race.

 

Who does it suit?

Absolutely anyone could win this one. The puncheurs, rouleurs, climbers and sprinters will all have it marked. Our guess? Chris Juul-Jensen, he deserves it.

13.

Châtel-Guyon - Puy Mary Cantal

11.9.20 – 191km

 

Make no mistake, this is the toughest stage on this year’s Tour. We may not be climbing into the clouds today but what the stage lacks in altitude it makes up for with the sheer amount of climbing. There are no fewer than seven categorised climbs on the route, culminating with a grippy summit finish up a Tour icon in the Puy Mary. In a region of dormant volcanoes, who will light the touch paper?

 

Who does it suit?

The Puy Mary and the public seem to have similar tastes in Tour riders. French favourites Richard Virenque and Thomas Voeckler have both won up here, could Alaphilippe do the same?

14.

Clermont Ferrand - Lyon

12.9.20 – 197km

 

Sitting at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers between the Massif Central and the foothills of the Alps, Lyon is a classic Tour town. It first appeared in the inaugural edition at the end of a 467km slog all the way from Paris. Today’s stage is significantly shorter but more complex with two category-four climbs late in the day that could throw a puncheur among the sprinters.

 

Who does it suit?

With those two climbs coming so close to the finish, we do not think this will come together for a sprint. One for a fast-finishing puncheur like Golden Greg van Avermaet perhaps?

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Tour de France Guide: Week 1

Fasten your seatbelts for an unusually lumpy first week of racing that will take the peloton from the Med to the Massif Central.

Read more

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