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Tour Stage 2: Coastal Côtes

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Le Tour Fans
Getty are still down, so I'm short of pictures. Why am I using this one? It might have happened in Normandy.
Patrick Verhoest

Stage 2: Saint-Lô / Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, 183km

More sprinting, but this time, it's slightly more vertical.

What's It About?

Showing off more of Normandy? Oh, and avoiding boring people by making them watch another sprint stage. The stage starts from Saint-Lô, which has never hosted a stage of the Tour before and is apparently the "capital of equestrian sport." And there I was thinking it was Kildare. Then, the stage goes north to the tip of the coast, before doubling back to the finish in Cherbourg, which has hosted eighteen stages.

AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings

Each stage we bring you suggestions regarding the local fare from AmyBC. Check out her blog Winebookgirl for more.

Stage 2:

Alcohol: La Pere Jules Pommeau From the producer: This product is the result of the subtle marriage of freshly pressed apple cider and Calvados that has been aged for one year. Afterward, it is aged in oak barrels for several years, where the flavor will be transformed to result in a finished product with a smooth harmonious taste filled with aromas.

The last two years of Tour pommeaus have taught me that I am a fan. Plus, the pear cider from this producer was a hit.

Food: Pont-L'Evêque cheese Originally manufactured in the area around the commune of Pont-l'Évêque, between Deauville and Lisieux in the Calvados département of Basse-Normandie. It is probably the oldest Norman cheese still in production. It is a cow's milk cheese, with a washed rind.

Course Features

Well, much like stage one, the start of the profile is littered with a couple of fourth category climbs. There's then a flatter section until the final climb.

Here's the profile:

And the map:

It's slightly rolling, with plenty of uncategorised hills, but one of the real kickers in this stage could be the run-in to the finish.

There's plenty of twists and turns there, and with a large peloton, a lot of riders who think they have a chance, with the added reminder from yesterday that nobody's safe, we can expect a nervy and quick run up to the bottom of the finishing hill.

Speaking of which...

You'll notice that the Côte de La Glacerie isn't actually the point on which the stage finishes, but rather, there's a half kilometre of descent before a 6% kick up to the finish after that hill is summited. Considering the 14% ramps on La Glacerie, that can only help the ambitions of the riders less skilled at climbing.

Riders to Watch

Well first of all, you'll want to watch Paul Voß, who only needs 1 KOM point on the early climbs to preserve his classification lead for perhaps three days. He could be expected to attack early in the stage.

You'll also need to look out for Mark Cavendish, who may gamely try to defend his yellow jersey, but with just six seconds of advantage on Peter Sagan, he'll ultimately end up with just the one LCL lion in his cupboard by the end of the Tour. Speaking of the world champion, he could target this stage, the slopes on the Côte de La Glacerie are unlikely to be too much for him, considering his ride on the Mûr de Bretagne on stage 8 last year.

However, Peter Sagan has become quite skilled in coming second, so for people who could put him there, and take yellow for themselves, look at the Etixx-Quickstep duo of Julian Alaphilippe and Daniel Martin. Since Martin admitted that he hadn't really been working on punchy climbs, I'd tend to favour Alaphilippe on this one, in a rare display of, you know, objectivity. He was sprinting and climbing well in the Dauphiné, an ideal combination for this stage.

Consider also Orica's Michael Matthews, who specializes (consider stage 3 of the 2014 Vuelta) in stages with a kick at the end such as this one, and Simon Gerrans, who won't be team leader for this because Matthews is better than him. But don't tell him I said that. Greg Van Avermaet too could be a contender for this stage which, though harder than the stage he won last year, still could suit his skills. Alejandro Valverde can also win on stages such as this. Also, watch out for Edvald Boasson Hagen and Bryan Coquard.

Pick to Win

I'm gonna go for Alaphilippe, to take a yellow jersey for Etixx a day after I expected.