Like the day before, stage 2 of the Tour de France crossed the Brittany region and offered an uphill finish, this time at Mûr-de-Bretagne (2 km at 7%). Shortly after 1:00 p.m., all the riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert started at Perros-Guirec, the day after an inaugural stage marred by crashes.
For the second day in a row, the riders led by Hilaire Van der Schueren and Steven De Neef quickly started hostilities in order to create the breakaway of the day, first through the Belgian Loïc Vliegen, followed a few kilometers later in his initiative by the German Jonas Koch.
Recent second in the German road championship, Jonas Koch had made the difference after 15 kilometers of racing, and thus integrated the definite breakaway, strong of six riders. Like his team-mate Danny van Poppel yesterday, Koch was actively participating in the mountain and points classification sprints, taking second place in the intermediate sprint at Plouha shortly after the halfway point.
Disorganization would soon take over the leading group. At fault: the duel for the polka dot jersey between Schelling (Bora), leader of the classification also at the front, and Pérez (Cofidis). After spending more than a hundred kilometers at the front of the race, Koch was caught by the peloton which soon approached the double ascent of Mûr-de-Bretagne, the first just under 20 kilometers from the finish.
The Dutchman Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin), who accelerated in the first passage without creating a decision, repeated his move in the final ascent, this time successfully. He managed to resist until the finish, won the stage and took the yellow jersey. At the end of this explosive final, Louis Meintjes rallied Guerlédan 23 seconds behind the winner.
Jonas Koch :
“I was happy to be in the breakaway because it was intense battle from the start. The interests of the teams present at the front were different, several riders were only interested in the polka dot jersey and that is why it was difficult to keep a perfect collaboration and hope to go far. The breakaway was therefore caught early, and of course it’s disappointing. But I’m already looking forward to help Danny van Poppel in tomorrow’s stage, which is likely to finish in a sprint.”
Hilaire Van der Schueren (sports director) :
“For the second time in a row we were in the breakaway, which was our plan before today’s stage. We wanted to contest the points for the polka dot jersey, which is why Jonas Koch fought against jersey holder Schelling. Once the breakaway was caught, our riders surrounded our leader Louis Meintjes so that he could approach the final climb ideally. He finished in the second group, alongside Geraint Thomas, and only conceded only 23 seconds after an explosive final which was far from ideal for him.”