Tour de France Diary, Stage Two: Cavendish back to old tricks
Mark Cavendish wins Stage Two of the Tour de France (Image: ASO)
Stage two of the 99th Tour de France, a largely flat 207.5km ride from Visé to Tournai, was the peloton’s third day in Belgium and the first genuine opportunity for the pure sprinters.
The kind terrain and glorious sunshine was good news for the riders injured in crashes on the road to Seraing, including Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step).
Martin, the biggest name under an injury cloud, fractured his left wrist early on stage one but did not lose time. In addition to numerous bandages on his arms, the German time-trial champion sported a plastic support brace on his damaged wrist.
Conditions were prime for a bunch sprint finish, and despite the gallant efforts of Anthony Roux (FDJ-Big Mat), that is exactly how things ended.
Mark Cavendish (Sky Pro Cycling) narrowly beat a desperate Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) to the line, showing that he has the ability to win stages without the help of his Team Sky sprint train.
Australian Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) grabbed third place after finding himself in a difficult position during the final kilometre.
The absence of German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) in the bunch sprint was a surprise. Reportedly troubled by a stomach bug, Kittel looked a shadow of his usual self, languishing at the back of the field 15km from the finish.
Earlier, a three-man breakaway moved off the front of the main field. King of the Mountains (KOM) leader Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) headlined this group in his pursuit of the single KOM point available at the Cote de la Citadelle de Namur. Two Frenchmen – Roux and Christophe Kern (Europcar) – joined the Dane.
Like Martin, Roux is carrying an injury suffered in a crash on stage one. Nursing two sore fingers, the 25-year-old was forced to remove his left arm from the handlebars on cobbled sections of road.
The French pair did not challenge the polka dot jersey on the fourth category climb, allowing Morkov to extend his lead in the classification to three points over Pablo Urtasun Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and stage one winner Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).
Much interest surrounded the intermediate sprint in Soignies at the 153km mark, with 20 points on offer for the first rider over the checkpoint. Kern led the break over the line, with Roux second and Morkov third.
The race for fourth place was a sight to behold as green jersey contenders assembled at the head of the main field. One could be forgiven for thinking it was the battle for the stage victory.
Goss was the “best of the rest” for the second consecutive day, claiming 13 points. In fifth place was another Australian, Mark Renshaw (Rabobank), followed by Cavendish in sixth.
Carefully monitored by a cooperative peloton, the break’s advantage never escaped control. With 30km remaining Kern and Morkov were brought back into the fold, leaving Roux as the lone rider up the road. After being left to dangle briefly, Roux was caught.
Stage three sees riders enter French territory for the first time at this year’s Tour. The 197km trip from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer features six categorised climbs:
• Km 132.0 – Cote de L’Eperche (193m) – 0.7km Category 4 climb at 6.9%
• Km 163.5 – Cote de Mont Violette (173m) – 1.0km Category 3 climb at 9.2%
• Km 181.0 – Cote de Herquelingue (115m) – 1.7km Category 4 climb at 5.8%
• Km 185.0 – Cote de Quéhen (109m) – 1.4km Category 4 climb at 5.9%
• Km 190.5 – Cote du Mont Lambert (150m) – 1.3km Category 3 climb at 8.4%
• Km 197.0 – Boulogne-sue-Mer (63m) – 0.7km Category 4 climb at 7.4%
Like the finish of stage one, but slightly steeper, the final 700m to Boulogne-sue-Mer is set for an uphill sprint finish.
Sagan, yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Pro Cycling) are four likely protagonists.
If a breakaway does not stay away, the puncheurs will come out to play.
Tour de France Stage 2 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 56′ 59″
2. GREIPEL Andre, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
3. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
4. VEELERS Tom, ARGOS-SHIMANO, 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
5. PETACCHI Alessandro, LAMPRE-ISD, 04h 56′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
6. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
7. HUTAROVICH Yauheni, FDJ-BIG MAT 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
8. HAEDO Juan Jose, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
9. RENSHAW Mark, RABOBANK, 04h 56′ 59″+ 00′ 00″
10. FARRAR Tyler, GARMIN-SHARP, 04h 56′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 78
2. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 63
3. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 55
4. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 52
5. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 42
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. MORKOV Michael, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 4
2. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 1
3. URTASUN PEREZ Pablo, EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI, 1
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 10h 02′ 31″
2. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 10h 02′ 38″ + 00′ 07″
3. CHAVANEL Sylvain, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 10h 02′ 38″ + 00′ 07″
4. VAN GARDEREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 10h 02′ 41″ + 00′ 10″
5. HAGEN Edvald Boasson, SKY PRO CYCLING, 10h 02′ 42″ + 00′ 11″
6. MENCHOV Denis, KATUSHA, 10h 02′ 44″ + 00′ 13″
7. GILBERT Philippe, BMC RACING, 10h 02′ 44″ + 00′ 13″
8. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 10h 02′ 48″ + 00′ 17″
9. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 10h 02′ 49″ + 00′ 18″
10. HESJEDAL Ryder, GARMIN-SHARP, 10h 02′ 49″ + 00′ 18″