Peter Sagan comes up just a second short, with two grand sprint opportunities out the window.
The much anticipated Cavendish, Griepel and Sagan showdown has yet to play out, and with only a few true sprint stages in the 2013 Tour, the fast men will be shaking their heads at opportunities lost. Even Stage One, perhaps the most straightforward stage in the first week, went by in chaos. The ORICA-GreenEdge bus fiasco aside, a number of crashes tore apart the peloton in the final few kilometers. With Cavendish, Sagan and Griepel on the ground, it was Argos sprinter Marcel Kittel to take the first stage win and the first yellow jersey.
Stage Two had a sizeable lump near the end. The CAT 3 climb broke up the race and got rid of nearly all of the sprinters, except for Peter Sagan. His depleted Cannondale squad came up just one second short on the line, with RadioShack’s Jan Bakenlants staying away to the line to take yellow from a sunken Marcel Kittell. Cavendish, Griepel and the rest of the autobus rolled in seventeen minutes behind, now looking ahead to later in the week for a chance at a sprint outright.
For Sagan, the field sprint for second is a solid step forward in the green jersey, now just four seconds behind Kittell and well ahead of the names of Cav, Griepel and Goss. It also moved him into the white jersey lead as best young rider, as we often forget he is well under 26 years of age. Sagan will chase another points jersey with an entire team behind him, and he’ll likely give way in the white jersey competition today, with Stage Three looming as, perhaps, a bit too steep.
After his aggression Sunday, it’ll be interesting to see how Sky handles the final climb, a CAT 2 col that peaks out roughly 8km from the finish in Calvi. For the GC men, it’s another stage where little can be won, but everything can be lost with a moment’s inattention. Froome’s move Sunday was simply to stay out of trouble, but an attack from Evans or Contador will be for valuable time on the GC. Now may be the time to give it a go, with Sky’s flat land powerhouses, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard both feeling the effects of Saturday’s crash. They’ll be shorthanded, at least, which could be dangerous if Froome doesn’t latch onto something big going past.
If Peter Sagan makes it over the CAT 2, it would certainly be a bit of a surprise. He’ll be hoping the GC men keep their powder dry and the pace slower, though it will see Cav and the other sprinters dispatched on the early slopes. With only 8km to go, riders off the back have almost no chance to catch back on if the group up the road is of any size at all. Watch for attacks from Sylvain Chavanel, Thomas Voeckler, Phillipe Gilbert and the other puncheurs who might get a day pass from their domestique duties to go for glory.