1. Alpecin-Deceuninck do not care for breakaways
A flat day in the Netherlands, the second stage of a three-week Grand Tour, surely letting the break get five minutes and then bringing them back towards the end for the expected sprint makes sense for everyone? Well, not according to Alpecin-Deceuninck.
After stringing out the peloton and bringing the break back to within half a minute, Alpecin sat off for a little while before returning to the front and chasing the break once again. As it was, the peloton passed the leaders with 58.4km to go and Alpecin maintained their guard on the front of the main bunch.
They’d worked hard all day, left on the front for much of the stage by all other teams happy to let them ride, but the plan came unstuck when the win went to Sam Bennett of Bora-Hansgrohe and Alpecin’s Tim Merlier could only muster third.
2. Euskaltel-Euskadi are making up for lost time
A peloton without the orange of Euskaltel-Euskadi just didn’t look right. Now the team are back in the professional peloton, their riders wasted no time in getting seen on the first road stage of the 2022 Vuelta a España.
First, Xabier Mikel Azparren formed part of the doomed five-man breakaway then, once that was caught, Luis Ángel Maté thought he’d have a go off the front. He got and maintained an advantage of around 30 seconds for a while, but he was never going to win the stage.
Let’s hope the team are as active throughout the rest of the race as they try to make their presence known after a few years away from the biggest races.
3. The Dutch have seen what the Danes did and matched it
Remember the scenes from the Tour de France’s visit to Denmark just a few weeks ago? Massive crowds, flags, smiling faces… Well the Dutch saw that too, took note and have arguably matched it all to welcome the Vuelta a España’s visit to the Netherlands.
Large crowds in town and country alike waved the riders past out on the stage and huge numbers of spectators welcomed the riders across the line at the end of Stage 2. Heel goed!
4. Dutch roads are safe for everyday riders but can be a nightmare for racers
Again much like Denmark, the Netherlands cares about the safety of people on bikes in a way that we can only dream of in the UK and elsewhere.
However, what makes the Netherlands safe for commuters, school kids and recreational riders – proper infrastructure to keep cars clear of people and to keep motor vehicle speeds down – can also prove problematic for 180+ pro cyclists coming through at full tilt.
The road furniture causes pitch points that sometimes lead to crashes. But the riders know that and it’s keeping a lot more people a lot safer for the other 364 days of the year.
5. Jumbo-Visma’s ‘B’ team is better than most ‘A’ teams
Perhaps unfair to call a squad containing three-time defending champion Primoz Roglic a ‘B’ team, but then any line-up not containing Wout van Aert is secondary these days.
Regardless, Jumbo-Visma are looking very strong after yesterday’s team time-trial victory and taking charge of the peloton when needed today. They even finished the day by swapping the red jersey from one teammate to the other, Robert Gesink to Mike Teunissen.
If they can keep Roglic upright for three weeks the win should be theirs – assuming, of course, he’s recovered well from his injuries sustained at the Tour de France. Only time will tell on that, but already this team – racing on home roads in the Netherlands – are looking stronger than most.