A rain affected stage 2 saw an early break go out and high drama in the last 30 kilometers as riders battled for points and position.
Straight from kilometre zero, Laurent Pichon of Fortuneo Vital Concept attacked to create the day’s break. Taylor Phinney of Cannondale and Thomas Boudat of Direct Energie bridged immediately, while Yohan Offredo of Wanty took his time to reach the break, but the front four were decided in the opening minutes of the race.
From there, the action was out the front of the race. Taylor Phinney took the points on the Côte de Grafenberg in an uphill sprint, and the break kept their lead stable at 3’30”. There were early punctures for Kittel and Latour, and Durbridge abandoned in the first 30km, but that was all the action from the peloton. Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal and Team Sky took turns controlling the front of the peloton, trying to stay up front on the wet, slippery road.
At the sprint point in Mönchengladbach, Thomas Boudat outsprinted Taylor Phinney to take the lion’s share of the points, with Alexander Kristoff winning the best of the rest sprint back in the peloton. Over the cobbles in Aachen, riders like Tony Gallopin and Thibaut Pinot were dropped but safely made it back.
The break’s lead steadily dropped for the rest of the stage, but as they came within 90 seconds, a Katusha rider slipped out at a corner with 31km to go and crashed, taking out the rest of the peloton with him. Romain Bardet and Chris Froome were GC casualties, but were safely escorted back to the peloton. There was no abandons because of the crash.
Taylor Phinney and Yohan Offredo went on the attack after the crash, and stayed out the front with a 45” lead before getting caught with 1km to go. Taylor Phinney will come out of today with the polkadot on though, after also taking the points on the Côte d’Olne.
In the sprint finish, Nacer Bouhanni was lurking on Peter Sagan’s wheel as Andre Greipel slipped back after losing his leadout. On the other side of the road, Kittel, Cavendish and Demare were battling it for position. Colbrelli started the sprint first from 10 riders back, boxing in Greipel next to Sagan. However, out of all the wheel fighting, Kittel breezed past Colbrelli to take the stage win. Arnaud Demare and Andre Greipel took out the remaining podium positions, while Peter Sagan rounded out the top 10.
Tomorrow’s stage brings an Ardennes-style stage to the Tour with a steep, short uphill finish into Longwy. Peter Sagan will be looking for revenge on a stage where the pure sprinters might struggle, but the Ardennes specialists of the peloton will be right on his wheel until the top of the Côte des Religieuses.