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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The Tour de France is by and far the most important race of the year. Every rider in the peloton is in peak condition, no one is there getting in kilometres for goals down the road — this is the grand event. Due to the increased expectations surrounding the Tour, the riders’ nerves are at another level. In bike racing, nerves usually equal crashes. The UCI reduced team sizes in 2018 in the name of rider safety, but is there a correlation between peloton size and safer racing?
Story of the day: Smaller teams does not mean safer racing
Last year, the UCI announced a reduction in team sizes for 2018 with the reasoning that it would make for safer racing.
“…assisting in efforts to ensure the safety of the peloton and the rest of the race convoy … These changes will be effective from the 2018 season,” a press release last June stated.
However, two stages into the 2018 Tour de France and nothing seems to have changed. For the second consecutive day, a crash-marred finale stole the day’s headlines. A large pile-up with less than two kilometres to go sent many riders to the ground, including maillot jaune Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors). The 2018 Tour peloton is 176 riders this year, 22 fewer than in past years, but the crashes seem to be occurring just as frequently.
The issue doesn’t seem to lie in how many riders are in the peloton, but the roads they are navigating. Every stage starts with a neutral roll-out from the town, and the reason for this is to allow the peloton to safely get to open roads of the French countryside before the race gets going. Towns and cities have changed over the years with much more road furniture present, which is extremely hazardous to a fast-moving peloton.
However, the peloton comes flying into these same towns at high speeds to finish the stages. The safety reasoning for a neutral roll out of town seems to contradict how the finish of stages occurs.
A simple solution for this is to put the finish of the Tour stages on the outskirts of town. This would greatly reduce the number of obstacles the peloton has to navigate at the end of a stage when fatigue is high and the riders’ reaction times are far lower.
The downside is towns are heavily invested in hosting the finish of a Tour stage and putting a finish on the outskirts can greatly reduce the economic impact the Tour has, which is its selling point. The solution to rider safety is a complicated one, but reducing the peloton by a mere 22 riders doesn’t seem to be the answer.
Dispatches from the Tour de France
Sagan wins stage 2 of the Tour de France, takes yellow jersey
World champion Peter Sagan swapped the rainbow bands for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on Sunday, winning stage two into La Roche-Sur-Yon. He beat a fast-finishing Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), clocking up his ninth Tour de France stage win.
“I am really happy for today,” said a smiling Sagan. “I have to say a big thanks to all my teammates. They were in the front for the last 30 kilometres. In the end, I expected something more easy, but it was really tough, up and down, turning right and left, a little bit of descents and then after it started to climb again. I said more later to start [the sprint] was better today.”
Stage one winner and maillot jaune wearer Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors) was brought down in the crash that occurred on the final right-hand turn with less than two kilometres to go.
Click through to read our full report from the second stage of the 2018 Tour.
The side stories, overheard remarks, and insider info floating around the Tour de France, straight from our reporter’s notebooks to the DND.
A speedy TTT
Multiple directors pegged the predicted average speed of Monday’s TTT at close to 60kph. A fast course makes it harder to build big time gaps. Still, those same directors predicted time losses over a minute for teams that aren’t BMC, Sky, or Sunweb.
Tomorrow’s Tour stage
Length: 35.5km TTT
The team time trial returns to the Tour for the first time since 2015; so stage three is one not to miss. It is the first day that has the ability to truly shake up the general classification with each team’s time counting toward a rider’s individual time. BMC Racing and Team Sky are expected to battle for the stage win, but don’t count out Team Sunweb, who are world team time trial champions.
Giro Rosa: D’hoore takes stage, Kirchmann gets pink jersey
Mitchelton Scott’s Jolien D’hoore took the victory in Corbetta on Sunday over stage two winner Kirsten Wild (Cylance), as American Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM) finished third. Team Sunweb continued to pass around the maglia rosa with Leah Kirchmann donning the jersey at the end of the stage. She is the third Sunweb rider in three days to wear the pink jersey.
— UCI_WWT (@UCI_WWT) July 8, 2018
The peloton tackled eight laps of a 16.5-kilometre circuit around Corbetta for a race distance of 132 kilometres. The Giro Rosa last visited the town in 2013 with Marianne Vos (Waow Deals) winning the stage on that occasion.
Sara Penton (Virtu Cycling), Chiara Perini (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo), and Carmela Cipriani (Conceria Zabri-Fanini-Guerciotti) slipped away from the peloton about two-thirds into the stage and stretched their lead to nearly two minutes at one point. The trio worked well together, but the peloton reeled them in with less than 10 kilometres remaining.
A technical lead-in to the line saw a crash occur with six kilometres remaining creating a hectic finale. Most of the key overall contenders finished four seconds back, as a split in the peloton occurred in the sprint to the finish. The exception was Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), who finished in a group a minute back.
Stage four has the potential to be a hard day in the saddle for the riders. The 109-kilometre day starts and finishes at Piacenza with multiple climbs occurring over the first half of the route. A few teams may push the pace early on to get rid of the sprinters, but the fast finishers certainly won’t go down without a fight. This is one of their last opportunities for victory with a climb-heavy route for the rest of the race.
Toms Skujinš, the Potato man of the peloton
Latvian Toms Skujinš (Trek-Segafredo) explains his love of potatoes in this unique CyclingTips exclusive. Our podcast listeners will recognize Skujinš’ love of potatoes, as we chatted with him about it in our pre-Tour de France podcast. It’s not too late to listen to it and get all the details on our super special Tour competition involving Skujinš and potatoes. #tdfpotatochallenge
2018 Tour stage 2 highlights
Stage 2 on-board camera highlights