80 years after the last visit of the Tour de France and the victory of Eloi Meulenberg, another world champion won at La Roche-sur-Yon as Peter Sagan sprinted to victory after Fernando Gaviria crashed in the last curve. The Slovakian champion got the yellow jersey back two years after he first took it in Cherbourg.
176 riders took the start of stage 2 in Mouilleron-Saint-Germain. Direct Energie was the most active team after the flag off. Sylvain Chavanel managed to go clear after 3km of racing, along with Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo). Smith won the sprint for the only KOM price of the day at côte de Pouzauges (km 28) with the aim of becoming the first ever New Zealander to wear a distinctive jersey at the Tour de France. After the sprint, Gogl called the medical assistance for a pain his right leg and went back to the bunch. Smith also considered his mission accomplished and waited for the peloton. At km 35, Chavanel found himself alone in the lead with an advantage of 2’50’’.
Poor lonesome Chavanel
Chavanel’s odyssey pleased the local crowd but he raced with no illusion. His lead was 3 minutes at km 50 and 4’25’’ with 100km to while Quick Step’s Tim De Clercq maintained a steady pace at the front of the peloton. The first withdrawal of the 105th Tour de France occurred when Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo) called it a race in the feed zone at km 86 because of abdominal pains. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) was the second man out as he heavily crashed on a central reservation with 40km to go. Another crash involved Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who already lost time on stage 1 after a fall. The Brit was back in the pack with 25km to go, where Chavanel’s advantage was reduced to 1’15’’.
Gaviria crashes in the finale
Chavanel got reeled in after 170km of riding at the front. He took the price of the most combative rider and three seconds bonus with 14km to go whereas Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) got two and one seconds respectively with the leading positions of the peloton. It was all together again with 13km to go. Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) punctured with 8km to go and was out of contention for the sprint. Fernando Gaviria (Quick Step) crashed 1.8km before the finish. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) who had a flat tyre with 20km to go launched the sprint from far along with John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) but Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) timed it well to fend off Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and power to victory.