PREVIEW | Criterium du Dauphine 2024 stage 2 - Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic big favourites for uphill sprint stage

The Criterium du Dauphine is this year a brutal race with five summit finishes. The first of which comes on stage 2. We preview the first climbing race day of Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel since their crash two months ago at Itzulia Basque Country.

The second stage of the race is short and has an interesting profile. A summit finish, but not one where he may see the climbers at the head of affairs. A breakaway victory is unlikely as the first 40 kilometers of the stage will be flat after the depart in Gannat.

PREVIEW | Criterium du Dauphine 2024 stage 2 - Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic big favourites for uphill sprint stage
Stage 2: Gannat - Col de la Loge, 152.7 kilometers

A third and second category climbs will still be present in the first half of the stage, but it will then be an easy run-in to the final ascent to the Col de la Loge. The summit finish is at 1255 meters of altitude; in total the climb sees the riders gain around 800 in altitude.

It is, in total, 25 kilometers long, but it's a climb of several parts. The toughest are the first 7.4 kilometers which average 5.7%. But this is not overly hard and unlikely to see any major attack.

Afterwards there are 6 kilometers that are virtually flat and will serve as restbite. Following that is a section of 3.5 kilometers at 5.6% which ends with 7.5 kilometers to go. All the way until 2.5 kilometers to go then the riders take on a road that is false flat...

Only the final 2.5 kilometers then rise to a 4% average but again, these are not gradients where the climbers can make a difference. Instead we may see the GC riders try to surprise, a small group sprint or perhaps a late attack being perfectly timed into victory.

PREVIEW | Criterium du Dauphine 2024 stage 2 - Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic big favourites for uphill sprint stage
Col de la Loge: 25 kilometers; 3.3%
PREVIEW | Criterium du Dauphine 2024 stage 2 - Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic big favourites for uphill sprint stage

The Weather

PREVIEW | Criterium du Dauphine 2024 stage 2 - Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic big favourites for uphill sprint stage
Map Critérium du Dauphiné 2024 stage 2 

Small chances of some rain, however it is unlikely to be anything meaningful whilst simultaneously the stage doesn't feature many descents. There is a small northern breeze which will favour the breakaway riders early on the day. It won't be strong, it'll come mostly as a cross-headwind in the final kilometers of the final climb which does not favour early attacks.

The Favourites

BORA - The ultimate goal is the GC, and on this stage they won't make the difference. Even if they did, Primoz Roglic will not win with a late attack as he'll be covered, and if either Aleksandr Vlasov or Jai Hindley were to win and take yellow, they will lose it in the time-trial. So I believe there are big chances that the German team will try and keep things together, push the pace up the final few kilometers to launch a sprint for Primoz Roglic. The leader needs the confidence, the team needs to prove their cohesion, and realistically he can very well win the stage on such a finale. BORA can try and launch attacks with their co-leaders but I honestly think their chances of winning would be much inferior.

Remco Evenepoel - Form is a question after his injuries and recovery. But I'd bet that it'll be good. Soudal - Quick-Step have Mikel Landa and Ilan van Wilder here, who definitely have the quality to try and keep the race together in the final kilometers in order to chase a sprint. The Belgian won't want to take risks and this isn't a climb where you can take real time on rivals, so he will play in for that scenario.

UAE - A team that likes to hunt stage wins and has a few interesting cards. Juan Ayuso is the leader, a strong finisher specially on such a finale... He'll aim for bonifications, possibly a win, you never know. But UAE won't work for that, his rivals sprint better. Instead the team is likely to try and launch some attacks with strong climbers Pavel Sivakov and Marc Soler who don't have anything to lose in terms of GC... And Tim Wellens himself could be a good card for a sprint.

Although this is not favourable terrain for the climbers, they cannot be excluded, It's still a long effort to the line and on those final meters, if there isn't much organization, one could certainly get away as they do have the best chances of arriving at the spring fresh. Carlos Rodríguez, Matteo Jorgenson, Antonio Tiberi, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Giulio Ciccone could succeed from a late attack.

Other climbers or puncheurs can well survive and then win in a reduced peloton spring. Other climbers such as Santiago Buitrago should be eyeing this kind of opportunity. The likes of Valentin Madouas, Kévin Geniets, Romain Gregoire, Dylan Teuns, Tiesj Benoot, Michal Kwiatkowski, Clément Champoussin, Andreas Kron and Neilson Powless could do well. I also consider Oier Lazkano a very dangerous rider but not necessarily in a sprint, instead a late attack - from a rider I neither consider a climber or puncheur.

Mads Pedersen could, at his best level, survive a climb like this but after two months without climbing in a race it's hard to know what level he will show, despite today's strong win. It's a short stage, likely also relaxed throughout most of the day, there's certainly an argument for a rider like this to take the win. Dorian Godon, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Ide Schelling and Davide de Pretto are riders who could prove big favourites in case we have quite a conservative ride up the final ascent.

Prediction Criterium du Dauphiné 2024 stage 2:

*** Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic
** Juan Ayuso, Matteo Jorgenson, Santiago Buitrago
* Aleksandr Vlasov, Jai Hindley, Tim Wellens, Carlos Rodríguez, Clément Champoussin, Oier Lazkano, Mads Pedersen, Dorian Godon, Magnus Cort Nielsen, Dylan Teuns, Romain Gregoire

Pick: Remco Evenepoel

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