“If you are stuck for stories…” my colleague Alasdair Fotheringham texts from Utrecht, in what I hope is not a judgement on how this live blog has started out, but a sympathetic attempt to help me fill these next four flat and windless hours.
“The start town was where the 1996 Tour de France began. Pissed down with rain, crashes everywhere, and a press room in a cattle market that reeked of manure. We loved it.”
Not sure quite how to unpack that…
It’s easy going in the peloton as the gap reaches nearly three minutes after almost 15km of racing.
The riders in this break are:
Julius van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost)
Jetse Bol (Burgos-BH)
Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Thibault Guernalec (Arkea-Smasic)
Pau Miquel (Kern Pharma)
We have six in this breakaway and we can see the orange of Euskaltel, the purple of Burgos, and the green of Kern Pharma. That’s the Spanish wildcard teams accounted for. We’ve also got an EF and an Arkea.
We’re on a weirdly narrow road that looks more like a cycle path, but either way it’s proving useful terrain for blocking the road in the bunch.
A group clips off the front and the peloton starts to ease. Breakaway imminent.
As I waffle on about the wind, the race is waved underway. We’re in some sort of industrial hinterland and it’s not pretty but it’s a fast start.
One factor that could prevent a ‘bunchie’ is the wind, with this being a twisting route fairly near the coast. But it’s not blowing strongly today. One to watch, of course, but it’s not obvious drama from that perspective.
The riders have all soaked up the atmosphere and are currently on the move, rolling out to kilometre-zero for the start of this stage, a 175km flat one that looks set to culminate in a bunch sprint.
There are huge crowds in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (yes, I obviously copy and pasted that) for the start of this opening road stage. There were impressive scenes in Utrecht yesterday too, the Netherlands city now having welcomed all three Grand Tours.
The Dutch know how to support a bike race, and are on course to rival the Danes at the recent Tour de France at this rate.
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews’ live coverage of stage 2 of the Vuelta a España