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94th Tour de France - ProT

France, July 7-29, 2007

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Stage 2 - Monday, July 9: Dunkirk - Gent, 168.5km

Live commentary by Laura Weislo, Gregor Brown and Bjorn Haake

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 13:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST

12:57 CEST   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour de France. Today's second stage will see the peloton return to the continent where they'll tackle the 168 kilometre long route from Dunkirk to Gent.

The course begins in the home of the Four Days of Dunkirk, and passes over some of the legendary roads of the Belgian Classics like the Tour of Flanders, Het Volk and Gent-Wevelgem.

Gent gets dressed up
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

13:04 CEST   
After a lovely, sunny, cool summer morning in Gent, showers have now started to fall as a large storm has blown in from the North Sea. Most of the rain should be light, and the winds not nearly as strong as they can get in this area, 15-20 km/h - but the peloton may encounter a brief downpour along the way and maybe even hear a clap of thunder. Temperatures are cool, but not unpleasant at about 15 degrees Celsius.

13:09 CEST   
Speaking of thunder, the tree-like legs of Thor 'god of thunder' Hushovd will be sure to feature prominently on the scorching fast finish in front of Citadel Park in Gent. Our Cyclingnews correspondent rode the final 10km of the stage, and said that even a club cyclist could manage 40km/h on the route. The peloton today will be travelling half again as fast as that as they scream into Gent with the westerly winds.

13:15 CEST   
It has been nearly 50 years since the Tour de France visited Gent, Belgium. As the French race prepares to head across into Flemish territory today, Bjorn Haake wandered outside of Cyclingnews' European headquarters to discover a city awaiting its Grand Tour return.

Later today the Tour de France will make its third ever finish in the centre of Flandrian bike culture, Gent, Belgium. The famed Grand Tour finished in the historic town for the first time in 1951, when Luxemburger Jean Diederich soloed in for victory, over two minutes ahead of local rider Stan Ockers. Seven years later, the Belgians were again deprived of a home town victor, when Frenchman André Darrigade beat home Belgians Jos Hoevenaars and Jozef (Jef) Planckaert. The latter recently passed away and will be honoured when the prestigious French race returns for only the third time today.

Read the full Gent feature.

13:18 CEST   
The riders are on their neutral roll-out at the moment - most of them wearing arm warmers because of the cool temperatures. They'll reach kilometre zero in a little under ten minutes from now.

13:23 CEST   
Yesterday's stage winner Robbie McEwen came back from a crash like a shooting star to win the sprint in Canterbury. Despite having banged up his knee and wrist pretty badly, he told Sporza that he slept well and has less pain this morning. He'll be in the action to take on Boonen, Hushovd and the other sprinters in Gent.

13:27 CEST   
The flag is about to drop to start the riders on their way out of Dunkirk (or Dunkerque if you're French). Dunkirk is a leading major port town in France. It is deeply rooted in the industrial and maritime tradition.

The start town is famous for the "Battle of Dunkirk" in World War II, where the Germans tried to extend their stranglehold on Europe.

13:31 CEST   
Our classification leaders Fabian Cancellara, in yellow as the GC leader, Robbie McEwen in green as points leader, Vladimir Gusev in white as best young rider and David Millar decked out in polka dots as the king of the mountains, all rolled out at the front of the bunch today.

We're only missing one rider today - Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez of Agritubel abandoned in yesterday's stage after breaking his collarbone in a shocking accident. He was riding behind the team cars when the cars suddenly stopped and he ran into the back of the Caisse d'Epargne vehicle, shattering the rear window.

13:32 CEST   
There are three intermediate sprints along the route today, but this is the only non-time trial stage without a categorised climb in the entire Tour de France.

13:43 CEST    8km/160.5km to go
The rain has let up and the riders are enjoying their cruise out of Dunkirk. We probably won't see a breakaway getting much time today as the sprinters will be keen to have their way with the finish. With such a short stage, a mere 168.5 kilometres, they won't want to have to worry about chasing back a break.

13:48 CEST   
After starting today's stage on French soil, the race will quickly head back out again at kilometre 16.5, where the peloton will cross the border in Oost-Cappel. This town is headed by one of the few female mayors in this country, Régine Cadart.

13:54 CEST   
On our little spin through the last ten kilometres, we experienced just how flat this course is today. The only thing to make the riders stand up from the saddle will be the occasional highway overpass. However, after two kilometres of pancake flat newly paved roads, the sprinters will face a quite surprising rise in the last 200 metres.

They'll also face a sharp right turn in the last two kilometres, and keep your fingers crossed for them because there's a traffic island right in the centre of the road at the turn.

13:57 CEST    18km/150.5km to go
We have our first attack of the day! Marcel Sieberg (Milram) has decided to give it a go. Sieberg was second in a stage at the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and the 25 year-old only has one professional win to his name: the GP Jef Scherens Leuven.

The racing is heating up as the riders head into the heart of Flanders, and more riders are going off the front to join Sieberg.

14:00 CEST    20km/148.5km to go
The riders have passed through the West Flanders town of Roesbrugge. Roesbrugge is located near the Yser river, the source of which is in France. The Yser also crosses the border into Flanders before flowing out into the North Sea in Nieuwpoort.

14:02 CEST    21km/147.5km to go
The riders who joined Sieberg are Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) and Cedric Hervé (Agritubel). The trio is working hard to extend their 20 second advantage.

14:05 CEST   
Belgium is famous for its beer, and the finishing town of Gent/Gand/Ghent is a city that loves the beverage almost more than bike racing. The Trappist monks can ferment a wickedly good brew, and they get some of the ingredients from the area the riders are passing through at the moment.

In just a few kilometres, the race will go through Poperinge. The town is famous for its hops, and has a hop festival every year in September.

14:09 CEST   
With a gap of 1'35 to the field, Ruben Perez, our best placed rider in the breakaway, is now in the 'virtual' yellow jersey. Even though his mission is suicidal, he'll keep plowing forward like the troops who sprinted from their trenches into battle in this area in World War I.

Unlike those German soldiers, Perez will not face the death penalty if he retreats back to the field.

14:17 CEST   
Our peloton is becoming quickly battle-hardened after a series of crashes yesterday. One of them happened when the riders encountered a bit of 'traffic furniture' - a median with directional signs and a raised curb used to calm the traffic along the roads in Europe. Brett Lancaster was one of the men to go down in that crash. He landed straight on his backside - luckily missing any of the posts. It was insult to injury for the Australian, who suffered from food poisoning the night before that stage. His Tour can only get better from here!

14:19 CEST   
It is 18°C sunny but there are clouds. Our reporter Brecht Decaluwé even noted lightening off in the distance of the start, however, the riders started on dry pavement.

14:20 CEST    32km/136.5km to go
CSC is controlling the peloton at the moment, just as they did for just about the entire stage yesterday. They shouldn't have too much trouble keeping Cancellara in yellow today.

The first sprint will come at kilometre 45 in the town of Boezinge, and will have time bonuses on the line, which will most likely be taken by our breakaway.

Alexander Vinokourov
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

14:24 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé spoke with Alexander Vinokourov at the start town. "I have good memories of this area because I had my first pro win in the Four Days of Dunkerque. I know there is always a lot of wind."

The Kazakh spoke about the start in London. "There were a lot of people and it was good," he said of the Grand Départ. "I may not seem interested in the ambiance but I really like."

What was your opinion of the Départ in London?

14:31 CEST   
The peloton is cruising along past a field of sleepy cows who are all lying down on the job today. Unlike some races in this part of Belgium, they're lucky to enjoy light winds. Riders had been concerned about the possibility of a strong cross-wind and echelons forming in an attempt to split the field. That looks unlikely today, and even the rain has let up and the sun is shining on our breakaway. The average speed in the first hour was a brisk 45.5 km/h.

14:35 CEST    45km/123.5km to go
Despite being one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, Belgium still has some fairly large expanses of farmland, and the riders are heading past some lovely green fields at the moment.

The breakaway rolls through the first sprint, with Cedric Hervé (Agritubel) taking the six second bonus ahead of Perez and Sieberg.

Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
(Click for larger image)

14:35 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé spoke with Rolf Aldag of T-Mobile about Mark Cavendish's crash. "He was really disappointed," said the directeur sportif. "He made a mistake. Rule number one is always stay on your bike.

"Today, is a day to confront the anger with a 200 metre drive to victory. It is a finish that should suit him."

The stage finishes in Gent; read more about the Belgian city.

14:37 CEST   
The breakaway is getting a little more leash at the moment as the peloton is ten wide at the front - slowing up to let the yellow jersey commune with nature at the side of the road. The gap is out to 2'50 after being down to 2'05 at the first sprint.

14:38 CEST   
Predictor Directeur Sportif Marc Sergeant talked of Robbie McEwen's chances for the finish in Gent. "If it is possible to win again and normally it is easier if you already have one under your belt," he said to Brecht Decaluwé.

"Yesterday, everything went perfectly after the crash, so we have lots of confidence. My favourite for today is Robbie McEwen."

14:42 CEST   
Rémy Di Gregorio (FdJ) has a flat tyre - but the peloton is still going easy, so he'll have no problems getting back on.

His team-mate Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux) was out enjoying the evening rather late last night, reportedly until 3AM. He was celebrating his 25th birthday, which was actually on July 5. A certain Cyclingnews reporter (Gregor Brown) is celebrating his birthday tonight in Gent, drop by and say hello.

14:46 CEST    59.5km/109km to go
The peloton has simply stopped racing at the moment and have let the breakaway balloon to 4'34 with 109 kilometres to go. The wind is picking up, but it's at the riders' backs, so they're not concerned with the chase being difficult.

14:50 CEST    62.5km/106km to go
At kilometre 90, the field will hit the coast again in the town of Nieuwpoort on the North Sea. As a coastal town, Nieuwpoort celebrates its fisheries one weekend each May. Through the small town of Westende the peloton reaches its more famous eastern counter part, Oostende. Like Calais it has a large ferry terminal with frequent service to England.

Nowadays Oostende also attracts many tourists along its waterfront esplanade that hosts a casino.

14:55 CEST   
At the finish town of Gent, Monday morning commuters were faced with the fact that one of the main roads through the town was completely closed to traffic. But that doesn't worry too many people because most have taken the day off to watch the Tour come to town anyhow.

The last time the Tour came through Gent was in 1958. It held the finish of the first stage that year, which was won by Andre Darrigade who specialized in winning opening Tour stages - he took the first yellow jersey in five separate Tours. That has to be some sort of record!

14:59 CEST    68.5km/100km to go
The peloton is starting to get down to business now that the break is over five minutes away. The stage isn't long enough to let them have any more time than that.

Agritubel's d.s. Denis Leproux is happy to have a man in the breakaway to get his team colours on TV. Freddy Bichot was trying to get the climber's jersey for the team, but couldn't beat Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and David Millar of Saunier-Duval. Augé and Millar were actually tied on the classification, but because Millar had a better standing on the GC, he took the polka dotted jersey.

15:03 CEST    69.5km/99km to go
Many of the riders are wearing clear or lightly tinted glasses today because of the rainy conditions at the start. Now that the skies have cleared, they may be regretting that decision. However, in Belgium you don't go out without an umbrella no matter what the weather because it can rain at any time! There are still dark, heavy clouds in the distance, but for now the sun shines on our break of three.

15:09 CEST    73.5km/95km to go
Speaking of Darrigade, John Trotter writes in to fill us in on some interesting history: "In the 1958 Tour (won by Charly Gaul) Darrigade was heading for his sixth stage win on the last stage to Paris . Back then the Tour finished in the now demolished Parc des Princes Velodrome. Darrigade entered the velodrome and powered away from Baffi and Graczyk.

With 200m to go he looked all set for the win when the General Secretary of the track, Constant Wouters, stepped on to the track. Darrigade slammed into him at full speed. Darrigade escaped with five stitches, Wouters died 11 days later in hospital. This without doubt was the most dramatic stage finish in Tour history."

15:14 CEST    77.5km/91km to go
Whoops - one of the motorcycles that follow the riders must have had a lapse of attention because he wound up lying in the ditch. He immediately got up and appears fine, but his bike will be hard to get out of that mess.

15:16 CEST    79.5km/89km to go
The breakaway has two kilometres to go until the second intermediate sprint. They're all doing an equal share of work, but the peloton has really started to pick up the pace now. The first 20 riders are single file as head through Nieuwpoort.

15:22 CEST    81.5km/87km to go
The breakaway is heading into the second sprint of the day and Hervé, sitting second wheel behind Perez, tries to go early, but he doesn't stand a chance against Sieberg who takes the sprint with ease. Sieberg looks a bit annoyed at the Frenchman - Hervé took the first sprint, and they probably had an agreement to share the three sprints equally.

15:25 CEST   
Marcel Sieberg is riding his first ProTour year. Read more about this young gun from Germany.

Marcel Sieberg
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
(Click for larger image)

15:30 CEST    87.5km/81km to go
It's feeding time for the breakaway, and they go through a narrow chute of fans hoping to get some cast-offs as souvenirs and are packing their refreshments into their pockets. It's turned into a gorgeous day in Belgium - the skies are blue with fluffy white clouds - a relief for the riders who feared slick wet roads in the sprint finish. They're not in the clear yet, however, as grey clouds loom ahead.

15:33 CEST    90.5km/78km to go
Caisse d'Epargne has come to the front now as the peloton enters the feedzone - that was just a temporary move, and CSC takes right over. Up ahead, the breakaway is going along one of the many canals, and on the other side of the canal, cyclo-tourist are pedalling desperately to keep the same pace.

15:38 CEST    95km/73.5km to go
The peloton is working its way along on a road parallel to one of the many canals that are used a commerce and recreational routes for watercraft in Belgium.

15:40 CEST    96.5km/72km to go
Although there's not an organized chase, just team CSC still sitting at the front of the main group, the gap is coming down steadily. At 3.40 now.

15:45 CEST    100.5km/68km to go
There are all manner of jersey colours at the front of the main group now as CSC seems to want to hand control of the chase over to the teams who want a bunch sprint in Gent today.

15:48 CEST   
The race has enjoyed relatively dry roads - until now; the leaders are headed directly into an ominous and low-slung bank of heavy, dark clouds.

15:50 CEST    104.5km/64km to go
The riders are about to enter the town of Ichtegem, hometown of current Predictor-Lotto pro Wim Vansevenant. It also produced a Ronde van Vlaanderen winner with Jules Vanhevel, who won the race in 1920. Predictor-Lotto comes to the front to bring the hometown boy to the fore to wave to his family.

15:52 CEST   
Vansevenant was the man who first stopped for Robbie McEwen after the sprinter crashed with 23km to go on yesterday's stage. He selflessly drove the chase and delivered his man to the stage win and then rolled in 1'32 back.

15:54 CEST    107.5km/61km to go
Vansevenant gets 200 metres in front of the peloton and then sits up and waves with both arms to a big cheer from his hometown crowd. He's clear on his job at this Tour de France, and told our reporter Brecht Decaluwé that he's here to work for McEwen. Taking a trip through his hometown while riding the Tour de France is a once in a lifetime event and he's enjoying every moment.

Cédric Hervé (Bretagne Jean Floch)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

16:04 CEST    113.5km/55km to go
We should start to see the sprinters' teams coming to the fore to bring the break back, but at the moment there isn't much impetus in the peloton. The average speed in the second hour of racing was 46.3 km/h - but we should see an even faster final hour.

The breakaway is encountering some showers at the moment, and thunder can be heard off in the distance - dark clouds are looming!

16:10 CEST    118.5km/50km to go
The gap is now around 3'22" and CSC continues to drive the pace with five guys. Its goals is to protect the lead of Cancellara and keep him safe for the finale.

16:13 CEST   
Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is looking good in the escape but he must think that their changes of staying away are pretty slim. Cédric Hervé (Agritubel) and Marcel Sieberg (Milram) are helping out in equal turns.

Americano Dave Zabriskie leads the pace of the chase.

16:16 CEST    122.5km/46km to go
The rain is threatening. Dark clouds are all around on this stage finale. Rockin' Robbie could come to the fore for this finish; he will want to. The finish is near his Belgian home. The Aussie speaks Flemish like a true Flandrian hard-man.

16:17 CEST   

David Zabriskie (CSC) did a super job yesterday to help bring back the break and keep his teammate, Fabian Cancellara, in yellow. With the job completed he rolled into the finish a coupe of minutes behind the others. Read here what David had to say before the Tour started.

16:19 CEST   
Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) are chatting in the peloton. Both riders speak English well but they are speaking in Dutch right now, as we can read lips.

16:22 CEST   
Spaniard Carlos Barredo (Quickstep-Innergetic) is right there at the front doing bit of a pull for 2005 World Champion Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic). Barredo is unlike most Spanish cyclists, he loves these northern roads in Belgian. He switched to Quickstep over the winter to have a chance at learning from the greats like Boonen and Van Petegem.

16:24 CEST    127.5km/41km to go
Oh... It is really looking dark now. We can see the reflection of McEwen's Maillot Vert on the wet pavement.

16:25 CEST   
The third sprint of the day is at Aarsele, 28 kilometres before the finish. This also marks the point where the riders enter Oost Vlaanderen, the eastern part of Flanders. Among others Robbie McEwen has made his home here in this cycling-crazy area.

Carlos Barredo (Quickstep-Innergetic)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

16:27 CEST    129.5km/39km to go
The riders are busting out the rain vests. The skies are about to open.

To read more on Spaniard Barredo see our January interview with him.

16:27 CEST   
Robbie McEwen lives in Brakel, about 50 kilometres south of Gent, where the riders are headed today. It is also about 35 kilometres east of Waregem, where tomorrow's stage three will start.

16:29 CEST   
Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) is looking oh so cool... He has his arm-warmers pulled up and they are special Jaune-coloured. He is really enjoying his turn in the race lead. Bravo Fabian!

16:31 CEST    131.9km/36.6km to go
A Milram and a CSC rider went down here in a round-about. No, it was a Predictor rider and the CSC was Fränk Schleck (Team CSC). Cuesta is pulling Schleck back into the race action.

The gap is at 3'05". The riders seem to taking it very easy on the wet pavement.

16:34 CEST   
Oscar Pereiro still doesn't know where he officially finished the Tour de France last year. Here he reveals his thoughts on the Tour before the race started.

16:36 CEST   
Iñigo Cuesta (Team CSC) is doing his domestique work by leading Schleck back to the peloton. They are almost back on.

16:40 CEST    137.3km/31.2km to go
Schleck is back into the peloton. The gap of the yellow jersey group is at 2'31 to the three escapees. Marcel Sieberg (Milram) is so much bigger than his Spanish and French partners. We reckon that the German is doing just a little bit more work than his break-away buddies.

Off to the right and left are flat, green fields, while behind the trio is a colourful field of riders. And they are moving closer and closer to the finish and trio!

16:42 CEST    141.5km/27km to go
Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took the final intermediate sprint, followed by Cédric Hervé (Agritubel) and Marcel Sieberg (Milram).

16:43 CEST   
Sieberg tries a dig. The German is sensing danger with the gap dropping lower and lower. He is now at the back of the trio being led by Hervé.

16:46 CEST   
Peter van Petegem is another famous cyclist besides Robbie McEwen, who lives in Brakel. He rides for Belgian team Quickstep, but is not in the Tour this year. His best result in a Tour stage was third, in 1996.

16:46 CEST    145.5km/23km to go
The gap is now at an even two minutes.

16:49 CEST   
The riders are entering Deinze. This is the start town of the Gent-Wevelgem every year. Deinze also is the birth place of the Tour of Flanders, or Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Oh, the umbrellas are out on the side of the road. Crédit Agricole and Predictor are leading the peloton in its chase.

16:51 CEST    148.5km/20km to go
The trio have gone under the 20km to go banner. Rubén Pérez pulls off to the left after doing a pull.

Wim Vansevenant
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

16:54 CEST   
The wind is kicking up and it is tall Wim Vansevenant (Predictor-Lotto) hammering on the front for Aussie Robbie as the peloton goes under 20km to go. The gap is 1'41". Wim is so tall.

We are crossing over the river here and we need to find a gas station or some place for a caffè.

16:59 CEST   
Vansevenant is still hammering on the front. His legs are so long, like two Eiffel towers!

17:01 CEST    157.5km/11km to go
Steven De Jongh (Quickstep-Innergetic) takes over on the front of the peloton. He will be setting up for Tom Boonen. Big Bad Boonen wants to take a stage after missing out in 2006, although he did have the Maillot Jaune.

The road looks dry now. Yes, it is! OK... Bring on the sprint!

17:03 CEST    158.5km/10km to go
Our conquistador, Barredo, is on the front for 'Tommeke!'

The gap is 44" at ten kilometres to go.

17:04 CEST    160km/8.5km to go
The riders are in two parts, they are divided by a long traffic island. The gap is 35" and falling fast.

17:06 CEST   
The peloton is really lined out here. One long, long line. Who will win today? Rockin' Robbie? Tommeke? Thor? Benna? Cava?

Bottles are flying!

17:07 CEST    162.5km/6km to go
William Bonnet (Crédit Agricole) is fast in the finish but he will be working for Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole).

Gap is under 20".

17:08 CEST   
One long line and the peloton can easily see the three up the road.

17:08 CEST   
We don't see any of the Credit Agricole team coming up to chase for Thor Hushovd yet... but his team-mate Saul Raisin, who suffered a severe brain injury last year completed his first race today. He did an amateur race in Salt Lake City, Utah, and while he finished minutes behind the peloton, he was positively jubilant to have gotten back out to race.

His mother Yvonne told the Salt Lake City Tribune, ""We had to stop talking, we were about to cry... We were told 14 months ago not to expect him to get out of a bed or wheelchair."

Raisin is engaged to CSC's Tour de France rider Dave Zabriskie's sister Aleeza.

17:08 CEST    163.5km/5km to go
The gap is now 12"... It is falling and Sieberg attacks! Hervé chases.

17:09 CEST   
Perez attacks! He caught them off guard and the other two can't do a thing.

17:09 CEST   
Sieberg and Hervé are looking at each other. Rubén Pérez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is gone.

17:09 CEST    164.5km/4km to go
Pérez has a sizeable gap - but a few seconds later he looks back and Sieberg is right on his wheel.

17:10 CEST    165km/3.5km to go
Now Hervé is back on terms as well - they are looking around at each other and this could spell their end as Milram comes to the front of the peloton.

17:11 CEST   
The teams are deciding who will work. The chase is lacking organization. Could this bode well for the breakaway.

17:11 CEST    165.5km/3km to go
Liquigas puts a rider on the front and the break is done...

17:11 CEST   
The riders navigate that final right hand bend, and everyone is through safely and we are on for the sprint. Perfect timing.

17:11 CEST   
Quickstep has control....It is Tosatto on the front.

17:12 CEST   
Milram is right behind the Quickstep train, and there's a crash!

17:12 CEST   
Steegmans is on the wheel of Boonen. Crash. Big crash.

17:12 CEST    166.5km/2km to go
Big ugly crash, but it's inside 3km so there will not be any time lost on the GC.

17:12 CEST   
Quickstep and T-Mobile are up front... Boonen or Cavendish could get this.

17:12 CEST   
Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) is there, up front.

17:12 CEST   
The yellow jersey is down! Cancellara went down in that pile up. The field is at a stand still as they try to work the riders apart.

17:13 CEST   
Boonen is being led by Rossler, De Jongh and Steegmans.

17:13 CEST   
Zabel is in fourth.

17:13 CEST   
Steegmans is leading out in the last 200m uphill drag.

17:14 CEST   
Boonen is coming on.

17:14 CEST   
He takes his first sprint of this year's Tour.

17:14 CEST   
Gert Steegmans did a huge pull for his look-alike Boonen!

17:15 CEST   
The last time Boonen won a stage was in 2005, stage 2. Bravo Tom!

17:15 CEST   
The riders who were stopped behind the crash were watching the finale on the big screen television. The Belgians were all happy for their countryman.

17:16 CEST   
Boogerd, Moreau all come in - a Discovery rider comes in getting a push from a team-mate - Popovych maybe?

17:16 CEST   
Cancellara is coming in. His left arm looks hurt.

17:19 CEST   
Boonen came up on Steegmans right. It was actually Steegmans who won! Boonen got second. Filippo Pozzato got third. Robert Hunter of Barloworld got fourth.

17:19 CEST   
Even Robbie McEwen congratulated Steegmans after the line - it was important for the Belgians to get a win on home turf, and even Boonen saluted the win as if he'd won. He was happy for his team-mate on his first ever Tour stage win.

17:20 CEST   
The run-in to the sprint was held on a somewhat narrow two lane road, and the crash came with 2km to go - it was a touch of wheels as riders shifted to try and get into position for the sprint, and resulted in one T-Mobile rider nearly winding up in the crowd.

17:22 CEST   
Vinokourov came across the line and crossed himself - thanking God he didn't go down in that wreck. Millar came in safe - still wearing those neon Oakleys... Fred Rodriguez must have been the one to go down in the wreck as he is now coming across the line holding his left arm and with no helmet. Bad news for the American!

He's preceded by Daniele Bennati who appears to be ok.

17:25 CEST   
Gert Steegmans was directed by his team to save the lead-out until late because of the hill in the last 200m, but when he put on the gas, it was a bit too late and Boonen couldn't get around him.

17:35 CEST   
Cancellara is able to put that yellow jersey on without a problem, so he certainly hadn't broken his collarbone. He's holding the flowers and stuffed lion with the left hand he was holding so gingerly at the line while he shakes hands with the dignitaries, so we might be seeing him again in yellow tomorrow!

Boonen takes over the green jersey from McEwen while Millar keeps the polka dots for another day.

Hopefully we won't have too many abandons overnight. We'll be sure to get to the nearest hospital and hang out outside of the radiology room to find out who broke what in that awful crash.

This concludes our live coverage for stage two! Check back in tomorrow at 13.00 CEST for the live call on stage three's 236.5 long trek from Waregem to Compiègne.

Provisional results

1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
4 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
5 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
8 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
10 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux         

General classification after stage 2

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
3 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval-Prodir

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