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40th Tour de la Manche - 2.6

France, May 6-9, 2004

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Stage 2 - May 7: La Haye du Puits - Agon-Coutainville, 189 km

Rabobank is beatable

By Jean-François Quénet in Agon-Coutainville

Ludovic Auger
Photo ©: JF Quenet

It was said that the Tour de la Manche was over after stage 1 since Rabobank took the best positions with Joost Posthuma and Jukka Vastaranta prior to the 14.5km individual time trial scheduled for Saturday morning. But the Dutch task force is beatable.

They had three men in the breakaway that went with 120 kilometres to go, just after a strong move from Auber 93 alongside Utah Beach, where the workers are busy preparing the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the American soldiers landing here. They were Stef Clement, Richard Groenendaal and Theo Eltink - but not Posthuma or Vastaranta. The other 15 riders away were: Nic White and Daniel Spence (HSBC), Sven Renders (Vlaanderen 2016), Christian Bach (Team Köstritzer), David Arassus, Saul Raisin and Julien Mazet (Crédit Agricole), Ludovic Auger and Lenaïc Olivier (Auber 93), Nicolas Gand (Normandy), Frédéric Lubach and Cédric Bruneaux (UV Aube), Alexandre Girout (VC Evreux), Benoît Legrix (DIVPA) and Maxim Gourov (Oktos). 6 riders from the 17 man break the day before made it again.

It looked like an hesitation from Rabobank, whose directeur sportif Frans Maassen finally asked his riders to pace in front of the bunch, but then the three men away also had to chase behind the duo who broke clear with 55km to go. That was formed by White and Auger, two exceptional time triallists. White, with his stylish pedalling style hiding cramps because South Africans aren't used to long distances, could rely on Auger's never ending ability to roll through using the biggest gear possible, even in the hills.

Nic White of HSBC
Photo ©: JF Quenet

Auger and White vs three Rabobank riders: the match went in favour of the duo who never gave up and made a gap over two minutes when they reached the final circuit of Agon-Coutainville. White was smart to start sprinting with 300 metres to go to the finishing line, but Auger had enough power to pass him right at the end.

Now Auger leads the classification, but the time trial will designate which one of these two is the new man to beat. French people take Auger's win for granted, but they may be surprised by White's ability against the clock.


Images by Jean-Francois Quenet


1 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Auber.93
2 Nicolas White (RSA) HSBC
3 Benoît Legrix (Fra) DIVPA

General classification after stage 3

1 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Auber.93
2 Nicolas White (RSA) HSBC

Courtesy of