93rd Tour de France - ProT
France, July 1-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 2 - Obernai (FR)-Esch-sur-Alzette (LUX), 228.5 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan,
Tim Maloney, and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 11:40 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST
It's a long day on Monday for the
Tour de France peloton, with the second longest stage of Le Tour on the program.
Stage two heads northwest towards Luxembourg with two Cat 3 cols in the first
After the frantic battle for mountain points on the ascents,
a break should get away, but the sprinters teams will have to be careful not
to let them get too much time and roll it up. With two Cat 4 hills in the last
17km, opportunistic counter-attackers will try for the winner's bouquet in Esch-sur-Alzette.
Welcome back to sunny northeastern
France where we are bringing you the third stage live in semi-real time. Our
reporter in Obernai, Anthony Tan, reckons that it looks a lot like Provence
here, but not quite as hot with temperatures hovering around 27 degrees Celsius
at the moment, and no wind. We can't spot Mont Ventoux in the background but
there are a few climbs during today's 228.5 km between Obernai and Esch-sur-Alzette:
Col des Pandours (Cat. 3, km 35.5), Col de Valsberg (Cat. 3, km 50), Côte de
Kédange-sur-Canner (Cat. 4, km 187.5), Côte de Kanfen (Cat. 4, km 212.5), and
Côte de Volmerange-les-Mines (Cat. 4, km 215). The three intermediate sprints
are located at Marimont-Les-Benestroff (km 107), Holling (km 169.5) and Yutz
175 riders will start in Obernai at 11:40, with Danilo
Di Luca (Liquigas) a non-starter today due to his inflamed and infected prostate.
Di Luca had a high temperature yesterday, and was already over three minutes
down on the general classification. A quick and unfortunate exit for the Liquigas
The start in Obernai is at the foot
of Mont Ste Odile, which was part of yesterday's route. The town is quite small,
only 12,000 inhabitants, but it is quite charming all the same. Alas, we can
only spend a short time here as the race is already under way, rolling in the
Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) was
a starter today after his unfortunate finishing sprint incident yesterday. It's
still unclear what exactly caused his injury, as initially it was reported that
one of those ubiquitous green PMU hands held by a spectator sliced his right
arm open. But it is now more likely that it was a spectator's camera that caused
the injury, which saw Thor lose a bit of blood as a result. The bottom line
is that fans shouldn't be hanging themselves or other objects over the barricades
in the last kilometre of a sprint. People get hurt as a result, and it's not
the first time that something like this has happened.
11:54 CEST 4km/224.5km to go
The official start
was given at 11:48am, and the 175 riders are racing out of town. They pass through
Ottrott and then Klingenthal, and are now heading for the hills to the west
11:57 CEST 7km/221.5km to go
The first attack
doesn't come from a Frenchman today. Instead it's two Spaniards, Aitor Hernández
(Euskaltel) and David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) who decide to have a stab
at things very early on in the piece.
12:02 CEST 13km/215.5km to go
The two leaders,
who escaped in the first kilometre, already have two minutes over the peloton.
So once again, the first break of the day looks like being the good one.
Of the two, Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
is the best placed on GC, starting the day in 146th position at 48 seconds down.
So he's already the maillot jaune virtuel.
12:12 CEST 17km/211.5km to go
The two leaders
continue to hammer away out in front as no-one seems inclined to chase them
now. The gap is 3'20 and growing.
A little more on Thor's injury:
he received several stitches to his wound in a Strasbourg hospital last night,
but was able to leave the clinic at 19:00. "Thor lost a lot of blood," said
his DS Roger Legeay. "It was a terrible sight. The cut itself isn't that bad
though. The doctors said that he would suffer more from the contusion, though.
He won't feel so well in the next 5 or 6 days during the race."
12:15 CEST 20km/208.5km to go
The lead pair press
on, racing towards Urmatt and then Niederhaslach, before tackling some Alsatian
hills (no dog jokes please).
12:20 CEST 23km/205.5km to go
The gap jumps up
to six minutes as the bunch rolls along at a very sedate pace. It's such a long
stage that this breakaway duo could be allowed 15-20 minutes.
12:26 CEST 27km/201.5km to go
And the gap continues
to grow, which means that one of these two riders in front will take over the
mountains jersey from Fabian Wegmann today. There are plenty of cat. 3 and cat.
4 climbs on offer, and Wegmann only has three points in the mountains classification.
Hernández and De La Fuente are about to start the cat. 3 Col des Pandours, which
is 7.8 km long and averages 4.1%.
12:35 CEST 31km/197.5km to go
The lead grows
to 7'40 as the pair start the climb of the Pandours. They're not going to be
seen again by the peloton for a while.
We spoke to Isaac Galvez, the Spanish
sprinter from Caisse d'Epargne – Illes Balears. He was 6th in Strasbourg yesterday,
but wasn't happy. "It was not good, I'm not happy with my result. I think I
could've won yesterday."
12:44 CEST 35km/193.5km to go
The leaders get
close to the summit of the Col des Pandours, with a fairly handy 10'20 gap over
the still lethargic peloton. 4 points for the winner of this climb.
12:57 CEST 42km/186.5km to go
The average speed
in the first hour is 36.9 km/h - and that's for the two leaders! The peloton
is already 11'40 behind, which means they're sitting on about 30-31 km/h. All
more fuel for my alcohol beverage company/anti-doping push theory.
13:08 CEST 44km/184.5km to go
the 4 points on the climb, ahead of De la Fuente, Wegmann, and Pineau. Wegmann
still holds the mountains jersey, but only just.
The leaders descend
off the climb through Wolfsthal, Schneethal and Engenthal. They will tackle
the second climb (also cat. 3) the Col de Valsberg soon. This is a 3.6 km ascent
13:11 CEST 50km/178.5km to go
The lead has finally
started to fall, as the peloton ups its tempo a bit. On the Col de Valsberg,
the front duo have 10'15 on the bunch, down from 11'20.
13:15 CEST 52km/176.5km to go
is the actual yellow jersey wearer today, which means his Discovery Channel
team is sitting on the front of the peloton, riding tempo. They might not be
interested in defending the jersey, and the sprinters teams will almost certainly
put their men in front to ride down the break.
Tom Boonen spoke to Cyclingnews about
Thor Hushovd's problems, which saw him go from green jersey favourite to a possible
also-ran in a matter of metres. "Sometimes you don't crash for a year. Sometimes
you have it in the Tour, you have bad luck. I don't know, it all depends on
how much pain you have. He's a very strong guy, and he will survive for sure."
The world champion also explained what happened in the finale yesterday. How
was it possible that he was at the front of the bunch too early? "Everybody
had the same problem, it was a very hectic final. It wasn't the fault of the
teams or anything. Tailwind and a big road...when you were sitting in the wheels
it was quiet, and when they were pulling, they were pulling at 70km/h; so it
was pretty easy for everybody to come back to the front every time. That's why
we didn't get it organised."
As world champion, Tom Boonen probably
has his own opinion on those dangerous situations in the final kilometre: "I
think every finish is dangerous. The teams organise the final, it's not the
Tour, because there were only a few corners. The problem was that every team
only had two or three guys in the front, to keep the speed up. I've never did
a final like this, especially in the Tour: with five kilometres to go, the speed
went down to 45 km/h. I had to wait, and nobody wanted to go. I know I wasn't
in a situation to win the race. It was a very strange situation."
13:25 CEST 60km/168.5km to go
took 4 points for winning the Col de Valsberg, which puts him as the virtual
leader of the polkadotted jersey comp. De La Fuente scored another 3 points,
while Pineau (2 pts) and Wegmann (1pt) mopped up the rest. The bunch was 9'20
behind the leaders at 50 km.
13:35 CEST 66km/162.5km to go
The race has left
the Bas-Rhin department and is now entering the Moselle region. But there's
no time for wine tasting as the Tour moves inexorably onwards. The lead pair
have a gap of 9'50, but are still a long way from being safe.
13:46 CEST 70km/158.5km to go
The race is now
back into flatter territory, rolling along through the vineyards towards Sarrebourg.
The two leaders, Aitor Hernández and David de la Fuente (no relation) are holding
a steady gap of just under 10 minutes on the Discovery Channel controlled peloton.
They've been away since kilometre 1.
13:49 CEST 76km/152.5km to go
The leaders hit
downtown Sarrebourg, and get a great big cheer from the crowds in the streets.
It's only got 14,457 people, but most of them seem to be out to watch. Allez!
13:53 CEST 79km/149.5km to go
After two hours
of racing, the average speed of the leaders is 38.7 km/h, which is 1.3 km/h
behind the slowest schedule today. That means the finish could be as late as
13:59 CEST 88km/140.5km to go
As an exercise,
maybe we can calculate the excess alcohol consumed (in grams) by the spectators
on the side of the road as a result of the reduced average speed. If we can
do that for the next 21 days, then we'll have some evidence to support (or disprove)
the hypothesis (see
stage 1 live coverage) that the alcoholic beverage companies are behind
the anti-doping push in cycling.
14:12 CEST 92km/136.5km to go
The lead of the
front two has dropped a little to 9'25, as they head through Bisping. Both Davitamon
and Quick.Step have stepped up to help with the pace making in front of the
Michael Boogerd was very nervous
when we saw him at the start. His new helmet is gone, and he's now wearing the
helmet of Juan-Antonio Flecha, which doesn't fit him too well. He then wanted
an old helmet that fitted him better.
14:18 CEST 96km/132.5km to go
The gap sinks to
8'35 as the sprinters teams flex their muscles a bit. It won't be too difficult
to pull these two out in front back, because it's such a long stage today. It
ain't easy spending 227.5 km ahead of the peloton! Especially with only two
Matt from Adelaide, Australia, writes
that he's "more than happy to be a test [or is that basket?] case for alcohol
consumed during each stage. I will get a keg set up in the lounge room tomorrow
and give it a bash tomorrow night."
Good onya Matt! You're a real
trooper for the cause.
14:28 CEST 103km/125.5km to go
The leaders have
coverage 103 clicks now, and 102 of those have been ahead of the peloton. The
first intermediate sprint of the day is approaching at Marimont-Les-Benestroff.
Now with the alcohol test, we are
not condoning potentially dangerous practices, such as the one proposed
by Bob in Georgia. "I've stared an IV of pure grain alcohol to combine the effects
of doping with the product and the sponsorship conspiracy. After infusing in
this manner, I will go out and ride part of the stage 5 of the Tour de Georgia
(since I'm here in north metro Atlanta), that is if 1) assuming I can find it,
2) assuming I can remember to bring my bike, and 3) assuming I don't crash off
the mountain during the test."
That may be pushing yourself too far
in the name of science, Bob, although it is a worthy and noble cause.
Dirk De Mol is one of the Discovery
Channel's team directors. He explained to Cyclingnews about George Hincapie's
tactics to take the yellow jersey yesterday. "Out of the blue, he chose to sprint
for two bonus seconds," said De Mol. "Afterwards, the sprint turned out to be
different than predicted. Normally, it would've been a sprint for Boonen, McEwen
and Hushovd of course. If you see a chance, you've got to grab it; that way
he was presented the yellow jersey on a platter."
likes the way the Tour is evolving; the team likes that as well. We think that
due to the removal of the four favourites, this Tour is going to be ridden very
tactically… and Johan isn't a bad tactician at all."
team has four men as co-leaders, are you sticking with that principle? "You
can add Rubiera to that list. He has the potential to achieve a high overall
ranking. But after the first time trial, and the first climbs, it will be clear
who needs our support. We will try to get those five guys without too much loss
of time to the first time trial, that would be great."
14:38 CEST 110km/118.5km to go
has been scoring maximum points in the mountains today, De la Fuente has his
turn in the sprint. He takes the 6 points/6 seconds at Marimont-Les-Benestroff
ahead of his companion. The peloton is expected in another 8 minutes.
14:41 CEST 112km/116.5km to go
Neither of the
two in front has won a professional race. Hernández turned pro in 2004 with
LPR, then signed for Euskaltel this year. De La Fuente turned pro in 2003 with
Vini Caldirola, then joined Saunier Duval next season and has been there ever
since. Hernández finished second and third (and ninth overall) in stages of
this year's Euskal Bizikleta, while De la Fuente also had a couple of second
placings in stages of the 2003 edition of that race.
14:45 CEST 115km/113.5km to go
Boonen takes third
in the intermediate sprint ahead of a bandaged Hushovd. So the world champ is
obviously keen for green.
The bunch passes across a railway bridge
and through some more trees.
14:47 CEST 117km/111.5km to go
The leaders are
back on the plains, but are losing their advantage. The last time check was
Vansevenant (Davitamon), Charteau (Credit Agricole) and Cretskens
(Quick.Step) are working in the peloton. CSC is also up there, but not working.
De La Fuente has done the most work
in the break today, spending 59% of the time at the front, while Hernández has
only spent 41%. De La Fuente doesn't even have a bidon in either of his cages
at the moment.
A few readers have been writing in
with their estimations of the extra alcohol consumption in relation to the reduced
average speed, which is 39.3 km/h after three hours.
in the UK: "A simple calculation based upon 1 million people watching the tour
live each day, an average 2 km/h slower race and a previous average waiting
time of 4 hours during which the average spectator consumes 3 bottles of beer
3600km / 20 stages = 13.8mins extra waiting per spectator
20 million x 13.8mins = 4.6million total extra waiting hours.
4.6 million / 4 = 1.15 million extra litres of beer consumed
Cost of 1
x 330ml bottle of Stella = £1.25
Total value of extra beer consumed:
It's probably a bit less than this in mainland
Europe: about 1 euro for a 330ml bottle = €3.5 million euro of extra beer.
OK, so now we have a ball park figure about how much the anti-doping fight is
worth to the breweries. It's big business. And that might do us for the time
14:56 CEST 124km/104.5km to go
De la Fuente,
who looks a little like Joseba Beloki (with the emphasis on the little), rolls
through for another turn, as the pair dangle 7'15 ahead of the main bunch. There
are quite a few AR2R jerseys near the front today, keeping their man Moreau
out of trouble.
The bunch has been following the
railway for a while now. Hint: don't take the train, as it is considered cheating.
Aitor Hernández looks a bit parched out in front.
14:59 CEST 126km/102.5km to go
the bunch through the feed zone, with many people applauding the riders as they
come by. And a few are holding those PMU hands. Be careful with those! The bunch
lines out as Charteau does not ease off the pace.
15:05 CEST 128.5km/100km to go
The leaders are
now inside the final 100 kilometres, with over seven minutes on the peloton.
7'40, according to the chalkboard. They're suffering out there on the flat,
and De La Fuente chats to Hernández a bit. Hernández hasn't been doing very
strong turns - he looks a bit cooked.
15:09 CEST 132km/96.5km to go
Jimmy Casper sits at the back of the bunch in the green jersey, unpacking his
lunch. The pace is solid, but not hard yet. Cretskens is on the front again,
riding tempo with Charteau and Vansevenant helping out.
And for the cow watchers...the peloton
passes some black and white bovines grazing in a field. That's the cows' total
Tour de France experience for 2006.
15:13 CEST 133.5km/95km to go
The leaders take
advantage of a small descent to rest their legs a bit as they pass some brown
cows. They separate on a roundabout, with Hernández taking by far the shortest
route. De la Fuente has to work to close the gap as he eats some fruit.
The pace has eased in the bunch, with the gap sitting at 8'00.
15:17 CEST 135km/93.5km to go
The leaders ride
through Faulquemont to plenty of applause. They've been out in front for 134
km now, and it hasn't been easy. There's another sprint coming up in 30 km.
Valverde and teammates take advantage
of the slow pace to get rid of some excess fluid.
It's been reported that Würth has
withdrawn as co-sponsor of Astana-Wurth, in the wake of the Operacion Puerto
affair. That team looks to become completely Kazakhstani then.
15:25 CEST 143km/85.5km to go
De la Fuente is
shaking his legs now, suffering from a bit of cramp in the hot sun. Back in
the bunch, Cretskens gets a bidon from his teammate Tosatto. They'll be hoping
that Boonen rectifies his result from yesterday, which wasn't really his fault
- he needed a couple more teammates to lead him out.
Best young rider Benoît Vaugrenard
(FDJ) sidles up to Magnus Bäckstedt (Liquigas) in the bunch.
folks sit on large bales of hay, watching the race go by. Some of those bales
are pretty artistic. Is that a mini Arc-de-Triomphe??
15:31 CEST 145.5km/83km to go
We have another
two hours of racing to go, and the gap between the bunch and the two breakaways
has come back to 6'30. The sprinters teams, namely Quick.Step, Davitamon and
Credit Agricole, are working hard to reduce it. Look for Hushovd to go for third
place in the next intermediate sprint and try to reclaim the 2 seconds he needs
to take yellow. He almost did it in the first one, but was beaten by Boonen,
who, if he won the stage, could take yellow too.
15:33 CEST 150km/78.5km to go
Ralf Grabsch stuffs
three or four bidons in his pockets, and a few more down his jersey, and brings
them up to his teammates.
Walter Beneteau is wearing the red number
today as the most aggressive rider yesterday.
Hushovd sports a bandage on his upper
right arm, as he chats to his team manager in the car. He's at the back of the
bunch getting some assistance from the doctor.
15:39 CEST 154km/74.5km to go
The gap sinks to
under six minutes, and it's mainly due to the work of Anthony Charteau (Credit
Agricole), Wilfried Cretskens (Quick.Step) and Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon-Lotto).
Looks like Wim will have a teammate helping out now: Christophe Brandt.
The peloton starts to line out as
the pressure is being applied in front.
15:48 CEST 158.5km/70km to go
There's still enough
time for a bit of chit-chat at the back of the bunch, as Casper and Beneteau
There's not much wind here, as the big electricity
generating windmills turn slowly.
Johan Vansummeren, all 198cm of
him, has joined Vansevenant and Brandt at the front of the bunch.
15:51 CEST 162km/66.5km to go
Hushovd is back
near the front of the bunch, near Hincapie. Boonen is also there, but not as
A Milram rider signals for his team car, needing a front
wheel. He gets one, and is on his way. His team car reverses through the caravan
though - that is risky!
15:54 CEST 163.5km/65km to go
Chris Horner is
also near the front of the bunch, which has got to within 5'07 of the two leaders.
There are five riders actually doing the work: Charteau (CA), Cretskens (Q.Step),
Vansummeren, Brandt, Vansevenant (Davitamon).
15:57 CEST 165.5km/63km to go
The two leaders
are approaching the vast metropolis of Holling (pop. 313). The town comes to
a standstill as the Tour de France rolls through it, increasing its population
by at least an order of magnitude.
15:58 CEST 167km/61.5km to go
De La Fuente has
been doing the most work today. His time-in-front ratio sits at 55%, while Hernández'
16:01 CEST 168.5km/60km to go
The two leaders
are just 1 km from the next sprint in Holling. The bunch is 4'35 behind, and
it will be interesting to see who can take third in the sprint.
16:02 CEST 169.5km/59km to go
his lips, as it's hard to drink enough today. De La Fuente gets out of the saddle
and takes the sprint uncontested. Hernández second.
Quick.Step leads it out for Boonen,
pretty hard. Note: Garate is not in the Spanish champion's jersey.
16:06 CEST 171.5km/57km to go
train works very well, possibly practicing. But they are challenged by Credit
Agricole. Hushovd chooses Boonen's wheel, and easily gets it from Boonen, who
again went into the wind far too early. Hushovd back in virtual yellow.
16:07 CEST 172.5km/56km to go
in pain as he ends up a couple of hundred metres ahead of the bunch. He slows,
drinks, waits for the peloton to catch him. That hurt. But there's still another
intermediate sprint and the final sprint to go.
The gap came down
to 3'03 as a result, but will go up again.
16:09 CEST 173.5km/55km to go
Well, that last
sprint was interesting. Boonen had a pretty good lead out, but he just couldn't
wait long enough, and was perhaps a little overconfident of beating Thor. Hushovd
waited on the world champion's wheel for a long time, until going by him fairly
Voigt and Zabriskie are refuelling at the back of the bunch,
getting bidons for their teammates.
16:11 CEST 174.5km/54km to go
The two leaders
are croaking in the heat, with their gap just 2'25. Not unexpected, after the
pace went up so much. Now Vasseur is on the front with Vansevenant as the bunch
rides through Freistroff.
Now it's up to 2'45.
16:14 CEST 177.5km/51km to go
There's a little
more wind here, blowing from right to left. That has prompted Merckx to move
to the fore, protecting Landis. Moreau is also right up there behind his teammates.
It doesn't look like Quick.Step is going to try to split the bunch though.
Gonchar (T-Mobile) punctures and
chases back on through the caravan, but alone.
16:22 CEST 181.5km/47km to go
Gonchar is back
in the bunch, as teammate Rogers goes back for bidons. Also French champion
Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) is back there. The gap has gone up to 3'37
from 2'35, so obviously the sprinters teams don't want to bring the leaders
back just yet. Too early, and the race opens up again for counter-attacks that
the teams might not be able to control.
16:25 CEST 184km/44.5km to go
is back with the Bouygues team car, grabbing bidons for his colleagues. He makes
his way back through the maze of motorbikes and cars, avoiding them all with
16:29 CEST 187km/41.5km to go
The leaders have
hit the third climb of the day, the Cat. 4 Côte de Kédange-sur-Canner (1.2 km
at 5.9%). This hurts, after so many kilometres of riding hard. De La Fuente
16:30 CEST 188km/40.5km to go
De La Fuente sprints
for the summit and gets the points. Hernández second, and is dropped as De La
Fuente hammers on his own.
The average speed after four hours
is 39.8km/h, so the race is sitting just below its slowest schedule.
16:32 CEST 190km/38.5km to go
De La Fuente has
already put 15 seconds into Aitor Hernández, so he is obviously not interested
in any extra support. Still 40 km to go, and he has 3'00 on the bunch.
Wegmann sprints for the third place point and gets them from a Euskaltel rider.
There are two more cat. 4 climbs
today, so David de la Fuente could well take the lead in the mountains classification.
He has 30 seconds on Hernández, and 2'45 on the bunch.
16:36 CEST 193km/35.5km to go
De la Fuente eats
and rides at the same time (who said that men can't multitask?). He has his
sights set on the sprint at Yutz in a few kilometres time.
is leading the bunch now, along with Charteau (CA) and Milram.
16:38 CEST 195.5km/33km to go
The chases is gathering
speed as the leader puts 1'05 into his former breakaway companion. The two Spaniards
have really earned their dough today.
The bunch is at 2'40, so De
La Fuente is doing well.
16:41 CEST 196.5km/32km to go
David de la Fuente
is giving it the works, trying to keep his breakaway alive and away from the
sprinters' teams. Milram, Lampre, Davitamon and CA are working. Hincapie is
up there, possibly thinking of snaffling some bonus seconds back at this last
The bunch passes by the Cettenom nuclear power
station, watching out for those three headed chickens again.
16:42 CEST 198.5km/30km to go
De la Fuente puts
his head down and powers through Yutz (pop. 15472). He takes the 6 seconds and
points for the sprint, which gives him 18 seconds for the day. He'll need a
lot more than that to win the yellow jersey though.
Hernández is caught before the sprint,
which means that there are still 4 and 2 seconds up for grabs. Credit Agricole
on the front, leading out. Boonen has Hushovd's wheel.
Pozzato launches a pre-emptive lead
out, but it's Boonen who jumps past Hushovd and takes second in the the sprint
from Thor. O'Grady fourth. They're really going for it!
has a chat to Hushovd. That's three times he's sprinted today for points, so
obviously he has the green in mind.
16:46 CEST 201km/27.5km to go
Hushovd did manage
to increase his lead in the yellow jersey comp, and he now has four seconds
on Hincapie. But that could all change depending on who wins the stage.
De La Fuente has spent 200 km in front of the race!
Vansummeren leads the bunch through
Thionville, a rather bigger town along the route. The pace is on now, and the
leader has under two minutes of his advantage intact.
16:50 CEST 203.5km/25km to go
The leader has
1'40 as he nears the next climb. He need to win this to take the spotted jersey.
Still another 8 km for him though.
16:54 CEST 206km/22.5km to go
The leader keeps
his advantage at 1'40, and will certainly get to the climb alone. It's been
a tough, long day for him though, and these little hills are going to hurt the
16:57 CEST 208.5km/20km to go
De la Fuente gets
a bottle of energy drink from the team car, and swallows a bit of it. He's really
hurting now as he fights to stay ahead of the peloton. Big ride by this 25 year-old.
He goes under the 20 km to go banner.
16:59 CEST 209.5km/19km to go
The peloton is
at the 20 km to go banner now, riding reasonably hard. 1'15 behind the leader.
17:00 CEST 210.5km/18km to go
The Côte de Kanfen
is a cat. 4 ascent, averaging 4.5% for 1.9 km. De La Fuente hits it and gets
out of the saddle.
Lampre is doing a lot of work in the peloton,
along with Davitamon. Robbie McEwen must believe in his chances today, as Boonen
and Hushovd have already sprinted three times.
17:02 CEST 212.5km/16km to go
The leader changes
down into a smaller gear, and punches his way up the climb. He needs the points
A tailwind is helping his cause as
he sits just 50 seconds ahead of the bunch. He will take the 4 points at the
17:05 CEST 213.5km/15km to go
Rabobank has taken
over in the peloton, setting a strong tempo. De la Fuente crosses the summit
of the Côte de Kanfen. Wegmann easily takes second ahead of a Bouygues rider,
with a Euskaltel rider joining them.
Bäckstedt and Cretskens have
17:06 CEST 214km/14.5km to go
It's Wegmann, Lefevre
and a Euskaltel in pursuit of David de la Fuente, who is in great pain as he
tackles the final climb: Côte de Volmerange-les-Mines, 1.4 km at 6.5%.
17:07 CEST 215km/13.5km to go
A crash in the
bunch: Marchante, a Saunier teammate, two from Agritubel, and Tosatto.
Wegmann hammers on the climb in pursuit of De La Fuente.
17:09 CEST 215.5km/13km to go
and passes De La Fuente before the top, taking the 3 points. But De La Fuente
will take two points, and still keeps the lead in the mountains comp.
An FDJ rider has jumped away from the bunch: Gilbert? He's back in the bunch.
Casper is dropped.
No, Gilbert has caught Lefevre and
Verdugo, and the three swallow De la Fuente. Four men in pursuit of Wegmann.
But now the Quick.Steps, Milrams
and Lampres are chasing in the peloton, 38 seconds behind the leader, who is
adopting a very low position on his bike on the descent. Gilbert leads the chasing
17:12 CEST 218.5km/10km to go
This descent is
very quick, and Gilbert asks Verdugo and Lefevre to work with him. They're not
The Milram train is disrupted a little by Eisel
in second wheel.
Wegmann goes under 10 km to go, driving.
17:13 CEST 219.5km/9km to go
The chasing four
have been caught by the bunch, which is just 19 seconds behind Fabian Wegmann.
It's going to be tough for the German to stay clear.
Tankink rolls through for a turn
with a Milram on his wheel. Wegmann takes a corner through Rumelange, now in
Luxembourg. The crowds are quite large here.
17:15 CEST 220.5km/8km to go
give up though, but the peloton is just 17 seconds behind him. He is working
flat out, looking back and seeing lots of boys in blue chasing him. It's mostly
Milram and Quick.Step doing the work.
17:16 CEST 221.5km/7km to go
Wegmann blows, swings
to the left, and lets the bunch go past. Good effort, but there just wasn't
enough in it for him. He's now off the back.
Bruseghin cranks it
up on the front, hoping that his sprinter Bennati will win the stage today.
17:18 CEST 222.5km/6km to go
An Ag2r rider attacks
next, looks like Calzati. Yes it is. He's caught by a Gerolsteiner - David Kopp
- who passes him. A T-Mobile is in pursuit - Kessler, who flies right by David
The road goes up here and Kessler
has a few seconds, but he really has to work for it. Hincapie sits back in 5th
wheel in the bunch, which has a Lampre in front.= and Boogerd second. Rujano
is up there, maybe he can lead out Boonen today.
17:19 CEST 223.5km/5km to go
Kessler has 10 seconds
gap now as he reaches the descent. A pretty useful attack, this one. 5 km to
17:20 CEST 224.5km/4km to go
Now the bunch has
reorganised, but is 12 seconds behind the lone leader. Kessler adopts the aero
position as he flies under 4 km to go.
17:21 CEST 225.5km/3km to go
Kessler keeps his
speed up as he races through Esch, now with 14 seconds. The bunch is in a line,
with Lampre and Milram leading. Boonen is up there and McEwen.
17:22 CEST 226km/2.5km to go
goes under 3 km to go with the bunch in hot pursuit. The German is riding great,
navigating the streets of Esch with aplomb. Milram has a couple on the front.
17:23 CEST 226.5km/2km to go
2 km to go and Kessler
is in his biggest gear, sitting on over 50 km/h. Now Rabobank moves up - crash
in the peloton - Liquigas rider attacks. The back of the bunch has stopped,
but it's in the final 3 km so no-one will lose time.
17:23 CEST 227.5km/1km to go
1 km to go with 8 seconds.
Matthias Kessler keeps his head down
as the sprinters wind up behind. Boonen moves up next to McEwen. Flecha leads
out then Ballan for Bennati. Freire on Bennati's wheel.
The bunch flies towards Kessler.
It will be close.
17:24 CEST 228.5km/0km to go
The sprint starts
and Kessler is gone. McEwen wins it, Hushovd pulls out of his pedals, and Boonen
is second. Hushovd takes third and takes back yellow. Impressive.
Hushovd is not happy, thinking that
McEwen pushed him and caused him to click out of his pedal.
Well, that looks like bad luck for
Hushovd who finished third today, but he does get to keep yellow. McEwen drifted
to the left slightly, and Hushovd didn't...luckily he didn't crash. Boonen got
a couple of pushes earlier in the sprint, and was well out of it for the win,
but he still finished with second.
That's it from us for today's
long stage. We'll be back with another one tomorrow between Esch-sur-Alzette
and Valkenburg (Netherlands) - that should be an interesting finish!
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 5.36.14
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step-Innergetic
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
4 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas
7 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC
8 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Francaise Des Jeux
9 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
10 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
General classification after stage 2
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 9.54.19
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step-Innergetic 0.05
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 0.08
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.10
5 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 0.16
6 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
8 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC
9 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 0.18
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 0.20
Back to top