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Preview: 2013 Tour de France — Stage 2

Bastia to Ajaccio (156km)

Sunday, June 30 7:25 A.M. EDT – 11:12 A.M. EDT
Live Coverage sponsored by Clif Bar

A short, tough stage

We expected chaos, we expected crashes, and we expected a bunch sprint. Yet Stage 1 managed to surprise us after all.

Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) took the first yellow jersey but it won’t be easy for him to keep it on stage 2. Despite a short day in the saddle — only 156km — the stage includes no fewer than four categorized climbs.

It will be a fast day, and with an early intermediate sprint the sprinters’ teams can’t let a break get away too soon. The pure sprinters may have problems fighting for the stage win and therefore they need the intermediate points for the green jersey — especially André Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who already find themselves in something of a hole.

The first categorized climb of the day, Col de Bellagranajo, starts after 63km, and with three KOM sprints within the following 50km, many riders will be eager to get away in search of the polka-dot jersey. Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge have two strong candidates for the stage win, in Sagan and Matthew Goss, respectively, and they will most likely try to make the race hard from the very beginning.

Neither Sagan nor Goss can match Cavendish in a normal bunch sprint. But with a steep climb near the finish, they both have a very good chance today. The steep climb in question is Côte du Salario. It’s only 1km long, but boasts an average gradient of 8.9 percent. It’s 12km to the finish from the top of Côte du Salario and it will be interesting to see if the pure sprinters can make it back in time for the final sprint.

Sagan is once again targeting the green jersey this year and needs to take full advantage of this kind of stage. He also has his eyes on the yellow jersey. The Cannondale team is built up around the Slovakian wonder boy, with a special focus on the team time trial. Sagan aims to wear the yellow jersey on Stage 4, but to get there he needs to win in Ajaccio. He has a lot of ground to make up for after his crash on stage 1, but if anyone can do it, it’s Sagan.

GreenEdge and Goss will have their say, too. The Australian team will most likely try to set up Goss for the final sprint, but they have another option waiting in the wings. Daryl Impey finished 11th on stage 1 and with a top performance he can take the yellow jersey. That’s something to think about for GreenEdge. — Mikkel Condé

Follow Mikkel Condé on Twitter at @mrconde, and visit C-Cycling to read more about stage 2 and see outsiders for the win >>