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Could an 18km bridge in stage 2 derail the GC hopes of Tour de France favorites in the 3,325km race?
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’s 100 days until the start of the 2022 Tour de France, and speculation is already building about just how decisive the opening weekend in Denmark will be.
Tour officials recently visited Copenhagen to put the finishing touches on the grand départ set for July 1-3.
Although the race opens with a critical 13km opening time trial on the urban streets of Copenhagen that favors the specialists and exits Denmark with a sprint-friendly finale in stage 3, it’s the potentially explosive second stage that’s on everyone’s tongue.
“It blows there 300 days a year,” said Trek-Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen. “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.”
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.
Not only will it be spectacular visually, riders can expect pummeling winds along the open bridges to the seafront.
Tour de France 2022 – Stage 2:
🏔️ 3x uncategorized
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) October 14, 2021
Roster selection will be key for the opening week
The challenging opening stages in Denmark coupled with a return of cobblestones in stage 5 when the Tour lands back in France will force teams to rethink their lineups and rider selection for the race.
Any team with true GC ambitions will need at least a few brawnier riders who can handle the physical and technical hurdles of the opening week to protect the team leaders.
Gouvenou echoed as much and raised the alarm that losses on the bridges of Denmark could spell a watery grave for some GC contenders.
“If I had to give the title contenders one piece of advice, it would be to choose solid teammates who know their way around the peloton, because the differences could be quite substantial,” the Frenchman said. “Considering how hard it is to claw back time in the mountains, there is a lot to play for in Nyborg.”