|Lambrecht takes the opening win ahead of Gaudu and Cras at Goulier Neige|
(photo: La Depeche)
-Lambrecht was a bit of an oversight on my part as he proved his worth as a junior last year by winning the Belgian Junior RR Championship as well as finishing 2nd overall in the Junior Tour of Austria. He even surprised himself as he didn't expect to keep up with the best climbers but he obviously can climb and he has a kick at the finish that none of the other purer climbers could match. Will he be able to hold this lead? Time will tell but Lotto have multiple weapons at their disposal.
-If David Gaudu would have not attacked a few times on the finale, he might have been able to save his wad and use it at the end to win the stage instead of coming in 2nd to the much faster Lambrecht. It was quite a display of power from the Frenchman, who was 4th on this stage last year but was in much better position to win this year. With a shot at GC still, he will be interesting to see on Ax-3 Domaines.
-Mathias Le Turnier in 4th looks interesting. He rides for the smaller Oceane Top 16 but he was 6th in two stage in Pays de Savoie last year and could ride himself into a top 10 overall spot by Sunday.
- There was a very large group that came to the line together and there are still probably 13 riders that have a legitimate shot at taking the GC crown here. I don't think that anyone from Giovanni Carboni (46" down) and lower will be able to pull back that amount of time against those ahead of them.
-Disappointments on the day include Lucas Papillon (only slightly), Hernan Aguirre, no Portuguese breakout, Simone Ravanelli and Freddy Ovett.
Stage 2 is really a 100 kilometer warm up for 54 kilometers of uphill that takes in the long but steady, at least until the end, Col de Chioula followed by the summit at Ax 3 Domaines, which was first used in the Tour in 2001. That final climb is steep and hits points of 10% while the average is over 8%.
Prediction: I'm sensing that a Colombian will be winning ahead of a Frenchman and a Belgian. If I must go with names, we will do Reyes over Paret-Peintre and Cras.