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Tour de France: Michael Matthews bracing for ‘chaos’ in windy crossing of Danish bridge

Forecasters are expecting winds up to 20kph during second stage that could provoke splits in peloton ahead of bridge crossing.

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COPENHAGEN (VN) — Michael Matthews is bracing for “chaos” as high winds are expected to pound the peloton on stage 2 at the Tour de France.

The 199km second stage from Roskilde to Nyborg will cross the famous series of bridges crossing the “Great Belt,” which could explode the peloton if forecasted high winds provoke splits.

“It’s going to be chaos,” Matthews said Wednesday. “It’s about timing to set it up to get across that bridge and bring it home. We hear there will be wind, so it’s going to be great to watch on TV.”

The BikeExchange-Jayco sprinter said no one in the peloton has been able to review the stage route.

Because the bridge is quite far from Copenhagen, and it’s a major trucking and transportation link for Denmark, riders and teams won’t be having a chance to preview the long bridge.

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Matthews, who will share sprinter duties with Dylan Groenewegen, said the team will preview the stage via Google and other online apps.

“We can recon things on computers. In the end it’s a bike race, you need to be at the right place at the right time, so we’ll know where we need to be when the wind can have the biggest affect,” Matthews said.

“No one’s been able to do a recon, but we’re all in the same boat, so no one will have an advantage.”

The 199km second stage from Roskilde to Nyborg will put the peloton to the test. The course rolls west before hitting what’s called the “Great Belt,” an expanse of water separating the two parts of Denmark.

The principal challenge will be crossing a series of bridges that connect the Zealand and the Funen islands across 18km ahead of the arrival in Nyborg. It’s only 3km to the line after coming off the final bridge.

“For sure there is a lot of stress in the first sprint stage,” Groenewegen said. “That’s always in the Tour, now for sure if there is some wind, there will be more. I believe in the team, so if there is wind, we will be there.”

Forecasters are already expecting gusting winds of up to 20kph on Saturday.

Right now, it appears that the wind will be blowing west to east, meaning it will be a full-on block headwind across the bridge. The more dangerous sectors could come on the approach to the bridge when the route will be exposed to crosswinds.

“It all comes down to having the legs and being efficient to save energy for coming into the crosswinds,” Matthews said. “It will be chaos.”

Anticipation is already growing for the potential dangers of the stage.

Tour de France course designer Thierry Gouvenou stressed just how decisive the wind-exposed final kilometers of stage 2 could be.

“The wind blows non-stop there,” Gouvenou said. “It is usually a three-quarter headwind, but there will definitely be moves, and one man’s pain will be another man’s gain.”

“It blows there 300 days a year,” said Trek-Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen in an earlier interview. “We normally have a wind from the west, and we are going straight west over the bridge. So if it’s normal, it will be a full headwind in the last 20 kilometers.

“It looks nice on paper,” Pedersen said. “But it if the wind is blowing north or south, it will be a big casino.”