At 166 km, today’s race is a flat course that winds its way southwest from Utrecht, through Gouda and then to the outskirts of Rotterdam toward the North Sea. The finish brings the riders out onto a storm surge barrier, where the winds can be wicked. Usually a flat stage is nirvana for the sprinters, who rely on their teammates to position them advantageously at the front of the peloton and launch them to the finish line. Today, however, riders will be at the mercy of the weather gods. Strong crosswinds have the potential to break the peloton into smaller groups, making it more difficult for the sprinters’ teams to do their jobs. And if it rains, the course could be complete chaos. Should be an exciting stage to watch!
The stage victory and yellow jersey could well go to whomever has recovered the quickest from the extreme heat conditions of Stage One, in which temperatures soared above 90 degrees. Each of the four favorites to win the Tour de France (Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, and last-year’s champion, Vincenzo Nibali) did well on Saturday. But with the weather possibly a factor, tomorrow’s stage win is up for grabs.
My Pick to Win the Stage: Mark Cavendish is the bookmakers’ favorite for good reason – he’s won multiple sprint stages in similar conditions. And he’s looking to redeem himself after injuries forced him to withdraw from last year’s Tour in the first week.
My Pick to Wear the Yellow Jersey: American Tejay van Garderen had a fantastic ride in the time trial and finished ahead of the big four favorites in Stage One. Plus, he’s said his goal for 2015 is to end up on the podium in Paris. Go get ‘em, Tejay!
My TDF BTG Pick: Continue to enjoy whichever wine you sampled yesterday. We’re still in the same region, so it’s all good. Or crack open a Dutch beer as you enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.
Vive le Tour!