While stage two of the 2021 Tour de la Provence was run under cover of gray clouds and rain, the conditions did not dampen the racing.
A day-long break was absorbed in the final 4km, and the sprinters lined up to have their chance at glory before the race turns to the hills — and Mont Ventoux — in the coming stages.
Davide Ballerini made it two in a row, and teammate Julian Alaphillipe raced another stage in his world champion’s kit. Alaphilippe crashed inside 1km to go but appeared unhurt and ready to take on Mont Ventoux this weekend.
While racing was under sunny skies along the Côte d’Azur on stage one, the weather during stage two was wet and dreary.
World champion Julian Alaphilippe stayed in the bunch for much of the day, one day after he was in the daylong breakaway.
Getting a rain jacket on while already wet is no easy task.
The break of Filippo Conca (Lotto Soudal), Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Énergie), Eduard-Michael Grosu (Delko), Baptiste Bleier (St Michel-Auber 93), and Samuel Leroux (Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole) stayed away for much of the day — they were caught inside 5km to go.
A few spectators braved the cool, damp conditions to give the break its due attention as it rolled through.
The peloton spread across the entire available road, almost within reach of the break.
Doors were closed and windows were shuttered to keep out the winter chill.
Remy Cavagna did some of the work to bring back the break and put the “Wolfpack” in control of the race to help defend Ballerini’s overall lead.
Alexander Kristoff hoped to make a podium before the race turned to the mountains.
Even world champions like soft drinks.
Alaphilippe resplendent on his Specialized Tarmac SL7 with custom livery.
Davide Ballerini in the Piet Mondrian-inspired leader’s jersey.
Lilian Calmejane — anticipating fireworks in the coming climbing stages — held onto the KOM jersey for another, relatively flat day.
Tim Wellens did not get the latest UCI memo about the super tuck position.
Ballerini made it two for two, just barely holding off Giulio Ciccone of Trek-Segafredo on the long and uphill sprint.
Ballerini waited until after he crossed the finish line to celebrate.