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90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003
Produced by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney, Chris Henry, and Gabriella Ekström
Stage 2 - Monday, July 7: La Ferté-sous-Jouarre - Sedan, 204.5 km
Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs
Start time: 12:17 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage, powered by T-Mobile, of stage 2 of the Tour de France. Today's stage is somewhat longer than yesterday's fast 168 km dash between Montgeron and Meaux, taking the riders 204.5 km between La Ferté-sous-Jouarre and Sedan over undulating roads. The three time and points bonus sprints on offer today are at Jaulgonne (km 43), Avancon (km 128) and Amagne (km 149.5). There are also two Category 4 climbs along the route, the Côte de Le Charmel (km 46) and Côte de Longwé (km 169).
After yesterday's crash, it looked as though there would be three less riders in the peloton today: Levi Leipheimer (broken hip), Marc Lotz (facial injuries) and Tyler Hamilton (broken collarbone). However according to Danish TV2, Hamilton has decided to continue (a la Fiorenzo Magni). "Hamilton slept badly last night because of the pain, but he will do whatever he can to stay in the race as long as possible," said CSC spokesman Brian Nygaard. Hamilton has been given painkillers, and his collarbone is broken in two spots.
12:25 CEST - 5 km
It has been confirmed that all riders started today save for Levi Leipheimer and Marc Lotz (Rabobank). However Tyler Hamilton's bike is sporting three wraps of gel handlebar tape. It will be a miracle if he gets through this.
A clearly disappointed Levi Leipheimer was quoted on Belgian TV as saying "It hurts most knowing that the Tour carries on today and that I'm not there with it to achieve the goals I set for myself."
12:34 CEST - 12 km
12:47 CEST - 20 km
12:57 CEST - 27 km
This two man breakaway will soak up many of the intermediate sprint points and bonus seconds, although there will still be a battle in the peloton for the third places on offer. McEwen has a chance to increase his lead in the green jersey competition, although Petacchi and Zabel might be interested too.
One rider who won't be is Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r), who will save his strength for the finish. Kirsipuu is much more relaxed than normal, in contrast to the other riders who are all very nervous. Cyclingnews asked him if they will change any of their team tactics, with Andy Flickinger now in the top 10 on GC.
"Probably not, because I really only have Flickinger to help me in the sprint. Turpin can do some work for me too, but I don't have the whole team at my disposal. I thought I was in a good place in the sprint yesterday but I got closed in and I was really frustrated with that."
13:11 CEST - 34 km
There are still 10 km to go until the first sprint in Jaulgonne.
13:24 CEST - 42 km
Cyclingnews had a fascinating chat with Lucien van Impe, 1976 Tour winner, before the start today. Van Impe told us that when he saw the finish yesterday, he thought there would be crashes. As far as the overall goes, Van Impe was sorry to see the Americans go, although one is hanging in there at the moment.
Van Impe also said that he thought Simoni was not the most dangerous foe for Lance Armstrong, but the Spanish riders. "Perhaps Simoni has done too much in the Giro and he is not a pure climber like Pantani," said the Belgian climbing star.
13:37 CEST - 50 km/154 km to go
The current time gap between the break is 9'40, and looks set to increase even more.
13:50 CEST - 58 km/146 km to go
The results of the first climb of Côte de Le Charmel (Cat. 4) were 1. Lilian Jegou, 2. Frederic Finot and 3. Christophe Mengin, who will likely keep his polka dot jersey today.
14:06 CEST - 68 km/136 km to go
14:19 CEST - 77 km/127 km to go
After 77 km of racing, we have two leaders, Lilian Jegou (Credit Agricole) and Frederic Finot (Delatour), who attacked after 10 km and now have an advantage of 11 minutes. Obviously Fassa Bortolo decided it was too early to ride hard yet, and has eased off the tempo in front of the peloton.
Cyclingnews spoke to Salvatore "Toto" Commesso of Saeco this morning. He said that "I'm feeling a bit better after my Tour de Suisse crash, but I still have some soreness in my coccyx."
We also spoke to Stefano Zanini, who crashed yesterday and banged his left knee, the one he injured in Tour de Suisse. Zaza is OK and will be very important to Saeco if Simoni gets the jersey to ride tempo.
As for Simoni, he said that he wasn't too nervous after yesterday. "We can expect some more crashes but I'm not really nervous about it because I'm an experienced rider with a good team, and they know how to protect me."
Asked about whether he thought the parcours was dangerous, Simoni replied, "I didn't think it was dangerous - it's the riders who make it dangerous."
14:32 CEST - 85 km/119 km to go
Jimmy Casper (FDJ) is sporting a neck brace, and is not finding it easy today either. He won't be participating in the sprints of course.
14:38 CEST - 89 km/115 km to go
14:42 CEST - 92 km/112 km to go
14:52 CEST - 97 km/107 km to go
The sun is shining brightly now, as the bunch cruises along en bloc. Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) looks like he's got himself into the front row.
15:00 CEST - 102 km/102 km to go
The bunch is cruising through St Thierry now, the town that hosted last year's Team Time Trial. Erik Zabel, in his German champion's jersey, is sitting at the back. Hamilton is also back there, staying out of trouble. However Danish TV2 reports that after talking to CSC manager Bjarne Riis, he said that Hamilton was feeling quite good and that he had been out of the saddle and was able to apply some pressure to his right arm.
15:08 CEST - 107 km/97 km to go
Cyclingnews spoke to Dirk Demol of the USPS-Berry Floor team this morning. Demol was pleased with the fact that the team has the team GC lead. "This was a goal before the prologue that we would lead on team GC...that way, we can go into the TTT as last team off and ride off the split times of the other teams. Lance is OK today: it was a bit of a scare yesterday with the big crash with Lance, Eki and Hincapie, but they were OK. It's a pity that Levi is out and Tyler has cracked his collarbone...both guys have worked very hard all year for the Tour and for it to end like this is bad.
15:18 CEST - 114 km/90 km to go
Cyclingnews spoke to Jakob Piil of team CSC, who told us that the team was a bit sad about Tyler's cracked collarbone but "that's life...today Tyler started and CSC will play it by ear. Otherwise Riis will figure out plan B."
15:28 CEST - 120 km/84 km to go
The latest gap is 8'10. At the back of the bunch, Danilo Di Luca (Saeco), Tyler Hamilton (CSC) and Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com) are staying out of trouble. Di Luca has been suffering from a cold since the start.
15:33 CEST - 124 km/80 km to go
There is a crash on a bridge, and it's Uwe Peschel and Fabio Baldato (who also fell yesterday) who come off. They get back on their bikes quickly and start to chase.
Cyclingnews spoke to FDJ's Baden Cooke today, and asked him about the possibility of the team losing the yellow jersey. "Only McEwen or Petacchi can be a threat if it comes down to a sprint," he said. "Brad was second in a bonus sprint yesterday. Brad will probably continue to try and get seconds during the stage. We're not too scared about McEwen or Petacchi."
For himself, "I wasn't feeling good at all because I slept really badly the night before. Even if I get in the sprint today I'm too far from the yellow jersey. We're not hoping to keep the jersey."
15:39 CEST - 128 km/76 km to go
Robbie McEwen takes the final point and 2 seconds bonus in Avancon, after surprising the Jean Delatour leadout. He won the sprint easily, but will that cost him at the finish?
15:55 CEST - 138 km/66 km to go
16:06 CEST - 147 km/57 km to go
The two leaders seem to be picking up the pace too, as the bunch closes to 5'25. There is enough time to catch them, and the big peloton is being towed along by at least 10 men. Yellow jersey Brad McGee is well placed, chatting to a teammate.
At the back we have Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme), who was the first rider down in yesterday's crash but did not actually cause it, Danilo Di Luca (Saeco, suffering from illness) and Fabio Baldato (Alessio) who crashed once yesterday and once today.
16:10 CEST - 149 km/55 km to go
16:14 CEST - 152 km/52 km to go
16:21 CEST - 158 km/46 km to go
Cyclingnews spoke to CSC's spokesman Brian Nygaard about Tyler Hamilton. "The first couple of hours up until now Tyler feels surprisingly good," said Nygaard. "He's doing surprisingly well with it."
Not that the Tour de France official medical communique was wrong yesterday. It reported that Hamilton had broken his left clavicle, where in fact he has fractured his right clavicle.
16:25 CEST - 161 km/43 km to go
Finot has attacked on a climb, and Jegou can't follow him. Finot will try to win the stage on his own now.
16:30 CEST - 164 km/40 km to go
We spoke to stage 1 winner Alessandro Petacchi this morning, and asked him about his chances today. "I could take the yellow jersey. I'm feeling good," he said.
Team director Roberto Damiani (Fassa DS) said that "The team did a very important job yesterday and it's very important for Alessandro to have a big strong team to support him, even when he's not feeling good. Nicola Loda was not seriously injured in the crash. So Petacchi still has Marco Velo and Nicola Loda to set him up for the sprint."
16:32 CEST - 166 km/38 km to go
Race leader Finot benefits from the crash, and his gap goes out to over five minutes again. He is on the final climb of the day, the Côte de Longwé. He will take the points, followed by Jegou at 2'50 minutes.
16:39 CEST - 170 km/34 km to go
16:41 CEST - 172 km/32 km to go
Jimmy Casper and Nick Gates are off the back on the climb, but are chasing back on through the caravan.
16:46 CEST - 177 km/27 km to go
Casper and Gates have got back onto the bunch. But Di Luca and Fornaciari are still off the back, chasing.
16:50 CEST - 181 km/23 km to go
16:53 CEST - 183 km/21 km to go
Di Luca is over 2 minutes behind now.
16:59 CEST - 187 km/17 km to go
16:02 CEST - 189 km/15 km to go
16:04 CEST - 191 km/13 km to go
There is a big crash at the back, with a couple of riders lying on the ground. Dario Cioni is down, as is Olaf Pollack, who crossed the line on foot yesterday. A couple of Vini Caldirola riders are down too - Marco Milesi is one of them, and doesn't look good but gets up. He is treated by the race doctor.
16:08 CEST - 194 km/10 km to go
Marco Milesi is back on his bike, with a bandaged knee.
16:11 CEST - 196 km/8 km to go
16:13 CEST - 197 km/7 km to go
Jimmy Casper is off the back in a small group.
FDJ is at the front, with McGee quite prominent. The gap is now just 1'19. Finot is really suffering.
16:15 CEST - 196 km/6 km to go
Millar counter attacks, but McGee goes with him. A Gerolsteiner rider goes next - Rene Haselbacher.
16:17 CEST - 199 km/5 km to go
16:19 CEST - 201 km/3 km to go
16:21 CEST - 202 km/2 km to go
16:21 CEST - 203 km/1 km to go
16:22 CEST - 204 km/0 km to go
"It's incredible," said Cooke at the finish. "In the finale all my teammates positioned me well. I had it in the big gear and I passed Kirsipuu, who moved a bit, but it didn't matter. I can't believe what's happening; it's unbelievable; I can't grasp it yet."
Unofficial 1 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com 5.06.33 2 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) Jean Delatour 3 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance 4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 6 Robbie Mc Ewen (Aus) Lotto Domo 7 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 8 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole 9 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Vini Caldirola-So.Di 10 Mikel Artetxe (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi General classification after stage 2 1 Bradley Mc Gee (Aus) FDJeux.com 2 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, Credit Par Telephone 0.04 3 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com 4 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0.06 5 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi 6 Victor Hugo Pena (Col) US Postal-Berry Floor 0.10