After a brutal start to the Tour de France on stage one, the peloton faced a tough mountainous day on stage two with two category one climbs, the Col de la Colmiane and Col de Turini, before two ascents of Col d’Èze in what would prove to be an action-packed finale.
Matteo Trentin attacked as part of an eight-rider breakaway chasing the first intermediate sprint which he went on to win to take the maximum 20 points towards the sprint classification.
An untimely flat tire just after the sprint saw Trentin lose contact with the breakaway and reeled back in by the bunch while up ahead, the then seven-rider group went three minutes down the road.
The situation remained controlled over the two category one climb with the breakaway’s advantage slowly decreasing until the catch was made at the foot of the first ascent of Col d’Èze.
A significantly reduced peloton remained at the top of the climb, featuring Van Avermaet and Ilnur Zakarin, with Jumbo – Visma setting the pace on the descent.
Van Avermaet was well place in the group on the second ascent when Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – QuickStep) launched an attack and was joined by Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott – SCOTT).
The leading trio gained a 20-second advantage at the top of the climb and despite the chase behind, managed to hold the gap on the descent and run into the finish in Nice.
With the trio easing up slightly under the flamme rouge, Van Avermaet’s group closed in and were less than ten seconds behind but were ultimately 200 meters short, with Alaphilippe sprinting to the win and race lead while behind, Van Avermaet won the sprint from the group for fourth place, four seconds behind Alaphilippe.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was enjoyable in a different way today. It was a super hard stage but i had in my mind I could take yellow and the stage win so I would give it all like a one day race. Unfortunately, three guys were in front and, of course, they were the best. In racing anything can happen and I played my cards and it’s a big disappointment. If you come that close, if you survive these kind of climbs with these kinds of riders, it would be nice to come closer to victory but it’s like it is. I cannot change it. First, I will recover and then hopefully there are other good stages for me. Maybe stage five with the uphill sprint, I can do well. The legs are responding well I think. I hope this wasn’t the last chance for me for a stage win.”
Tour de France
Stage 2: Nice > Nice (186km)
Top 3: 1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – QuickStep), 2. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb), 3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
CCC Team top 3: 4. Greg Van Avermaet, 52. Ilnur Zakarin, 87. Michael Schär