Two days to go...


© ASO / P. Perreve

The gathering storms forecast to reach Zeeland on Saturday could turn an already windy race into an epic struggle. It will be broadcast to TV viewers in 177 different countries, with L'Equipe 21 showing a cycling race live for the first time...

Ever since the inception of the World Ports Classic, the stage from Rotterdam to Antwerp has always seen the tireless Zeeland winds blow the peloton apart and separate the wheat from the chaff. Race route designer Cédric Coutouly would not be in the least surprised if it happened again, what with Saturday's weather forecast. "The bunch will be driven by a north-westerly wind on the dyke, for about 70 kilometres . As soon as the riders turn left, they'll be exposed for 50 kilometres to a three-quarters tailwind which could also cause some splits. Furthermore, it looks like it'll be a rainy day, which will make the race even tougher and help the strongest rise to the top."
The history of the World Ports Classic is closely linked to the Tour de France's visit to the Netherlands for the Grand Start in Rotterdam. Stage 1 follows part of the course the bunch took on its way to Antwerp back then and is a hat-tip to the race's origins. 11 riders on the start line in Rotterdam were already there when it all started: Vandenbergh (OPQ), Roelandts (LTB), Tankink (BEL), Gavazzi, M. Iglinskiy, Muravyev (AST), Dumoulin, Turgot (ALM), Brutt, Kolobnev (KAT) and Kluge (IAM).
The course of stage 2 of the World Port Classics has been tweaked due to road works. As a result, the peloton will take a detour near Breda after approximately 50 kilometres. The short Galder cobbled sector (650 m) is no longer part of the course, with the total distance rising from 159 to 160.5 km.
Footage of the third edition of the World Ports Classic will be broadcast in 177 countries, 18 more than in 2013. 11 of the 24 networks will be covering the event live, including L'Equipe 21, which will be putting a cycling race on the airwaves as-it-happens for the first time. Journalist Stéphane Garabed, who will be commenting the race with consultant Eric Boyer, highlights the significance of this fact: "We've already done it with track cycling, but this will be our first time with a road race. We know viewers also expect to see live races on our network, so we've prepared this event meticulously. Our various news programmes will feature discussion panels and interviews to start drumming up interest from Friday. I hope we'll get further chances to broadcast cycling live."

The news in pictures


© ASO / P. Perreve

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Jersey wearers after the stage 2

Classifications after the stage 2


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