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87th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 1 - 23, 2000
Stage 2 - July 2: Futuroscope Loudun , 194 km
12:00 CET The weather today is warm, overcast, but not too humid. The wind is from the NNW which may mean a headwind in the final stretch. Look for a lot of breaks after the second sprint, as the wind turns around and the road is quite windy.
The riders are entering the Village ready to start stage 2, most of the caravan vehicles have gone gone out onto the course now. The sky is greyer, and there is a chance of a thunderstorm later on. The Mapei guys look pretty focussed for Steels. Cyclingnews asked Stefano Zanini about his thoughts for the day, and he said that the Mapei train are pretty psyched up for Steels to win. The final leadout order will be: Zanini, Rodriguez, and Steels.
The stage has started. First rider with a service: Massimilliano Mori (Saeco)
A little more news from yesterday regarding thieves: Before the start of the Tour, La Française des Jeux were staying in a hotel near Futuroscope, where the start of the Tour took place. Sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon used his speed to catch a petty thief in the team's hotel, but this was not before team manager Marc Madiot had already lodged a complaint! The Tour apparently attracts thieves: the teams Ag2r and Lotto got unwanted visits as well!
Peloton complete at the moment, taking it steady at first for their 194 kilometre journey. Enrico Zaina (Mercatone Uno) puntured, but safely rejoined the pack. It's going to be hard for any of the sprinters to make up enough time to get the yellow jersey on this stage, as the intermediate sprints are only worth 6, 4 and 2 seconds (top 3). The first one of these is at 59.5 km (Chateau-Larcher). However, the time bonus for a stage win is 20 seconds, and a few of these will erase the gap.
Peloton still complete at 20 kilometres. The group is all together, and the riders are fooling around with rain jackets. Reason being is that it is starting to rain lightly.
Marco Pantani drops back due to a mechanical, but is helped by a couple of teammates back to the bunch. Still 40 kilometres to go until the first sprint.
30 kilometres covered, and the rain is still threatening. No attacks yet, as the first sprint is still 30 kilometres away.
35 kilometres covered, and we have the first attack of the day. It is rider number 43, Erik Dekker of the Rabobank team.
40 kilometres covered, Jacky Durand (Lotto) has bridged up to Dekker and the two have 20 seconds on the bunch which is being controlled by Cofidis.
In the bunch, US Postal's Tyler Hamilton gets tangled in a crash, and is recieving medical attention.
43 km gone. Jacky Durand (Lotto) and Erik Dekker have a 1:30 lead.
Tyler Hamilton has safely regained the peloton.
55 kilometres, coming up to the first sprint. DuDu and Dekker have 4 minutes now with a crosswind. They will turn into a tailwind soon and will really be able to hammer, while Cofidis are still riding tempo in the peloton.
This means that Dekker, who is only 36 seconds down on GC (10th overall) is the virtual leader on the road. He can sprint faster than DuDu, so he will be going flat out for the sprint, 5 kilometres hence.
A little data on Jacky Durand: he is 1.86 metres tall, and weighs 76 kilos. Currently ranked 230th on the UCI rankings scale.
Erik Dekker (Rabobank) successfully takes the first sprint at Chateau-Larcher (59.5 km), earing 6 points and a 6 second time bonus. Francois Simon of Bonjour was third, five minutes behind in the peloton.
The wind will be behind the riders soon, and the next sprint is at Verrières (km 85). The sky is looking a little greyer.
85 kilometres covered, and Erik Dekker wins the second sprint at Verrieres. He therefore takes a further 6 seconds bonus, and he and Dudu have 5.15 on the peloton. In third was Cofidis' Laurent Lefevre.
The average speed for the second hour was 42.5 km/h, while for the whole stage, the riders are averaging just 36 km/h.
The Cofidis team have begun to chase as the race approaches the halfway point. The lead is now under five minutes: 4.50 at the latest check and falling.
The weather is deteriorating as we approach Loudon, and the rain looks ever more likely. We could be in for a wet (and dangerous) finish.
The gap at kilometre 99 is well under four minutes now, through the efforts of race leader, David Millar's Cofidis team. Prominent at the front are VDB, Mattan, Peers, Moncoutie, Desbiens, Lefevre, Lelli and Meier. The team is going all out to keep their guy in yellow, and Millar is safely ensconced behind them.
The leaders have reached kilometre 110, and they still have a 3"35 advantage of the Cofidis-led peloton. They will continue to try and bring the gap down, as they want Millar in yellow for the team time trial.
Erik Dekker and Jacky Durand's lead is dropping gradually, and it is now approximately three minutes. The riders have been travelling for 126 kilometres now, and the average so far is 39.45 km/h. In the third hour, with the aid of a tailwind, 46.3 kilometres were covered.
68 kilometres to go, so there is still a bit of riding to do by Dekker and Durand.However, Dekker has picked up a total of 12 seconds time bonus, and he is likely to take 6 more at the next sprint. But, he needs a total of 36 seconds to overhaul Millar. This break must succeed if he is to do this.
The leaders pass through the final sprint of the day at Châtellerault (km 138.3) with a gap of 2"10 and dropping. Erik Dekker won the sprint, picking up a total of 18 seconds for the day. Dudu was 2nd, while Dave Millar took another 2 seconds bonus by finishing third.
Cofidis are still leading the chase, and they are not being helped yet by the sprinter's teams. They should catch the pair with 20 kilometres to go.
Tyler Hamilton, who fell earlier today is reported to be undamaged by his fall. A mere flesh wound as they say.
146 kilometres covered and Erik Dekker is the first to sit up, as he has done all he could to reduce the gap to the yellow jersey. Dudu toils on alone with a 40 second lead, but will surely be caught soon. There are still 48 km to go, and Cofidis can think about handing over the lead to the sprinter's teams.
Jacky Durand is finally caught after an escape of 113 kilometres. Cofidis have ridden hard to protect young Millar in yellow. Now all they have to do is ensure he reaches the finish safely.
Some data on Millar: He is not Robert Millar's son! His father was a Royal Air Force pilot, which explains Millar's residence in Malta and Hongkong.
After a long time out the front, Erik Dekker has gone out the back with cramp! Meanwhile, team Festina have gone to the front to try and set up their climber, Marcel Wüst for a stage win. Wüst is proudly wearing his polka dot jersey today, and would like to prove to all that he's not just a mountain goat.
Farm Frites' Koos Moerenhout puts in an attack to shake things up a little. He has a slight advantage with 37 kilometres to go. However, Cofidis is vigilant and are still riding hard. Moerenhour is not successful.
Coming up to 20 kilometres to go, and the the Cofidis team are still up the front. They are being assisted by the sprinter's teams.
Credit Agricole's Jens Voigt punctured earlier, but safely rejoined the pack.
10 kilometres to go. The tempo is is not that fierce, with Cofidis still at the head of affairs, with the odd Festina, Credit Agricole, and Banesto rider showing themselves. The bunch is complete though.
A little correction on Dave Millar's dad, courtesy of Gordon Millar: "I was in the air force in Malta but left the RAF in 1990 to join Cathay Pacific Airways here in Hong Kong, where I still live." Thanks Gordon!
17:18 CET - Riders started at 12:38 CET
5 kilometres to go. Christophe Moreau is riding at the front for Festina, but there is no heirarchy here.
An attack by Voigt and Commesso, but they're not going anywhere. Telekom now moves to the front and the speed picks up. Could this be a first win for Zabel?
17:30 CET - Riders started at 12:38 CET
The winner is Tom Steels followed by O'Grady, Vainsteins by a matter of centimetres and Zabel. Wust was 5th. A very messy sprint.