|76th Critérium International Stage Two.
Stage 2 Sunday 1 April : Les Vieilles Forges-Monthermé (98,5 km)
On what was always going to be a stage of high drama, no-one could have predicted what an extra ordinary mornings racing we would see.
The start of the day had no surprises- it was escape artist Romain Feillu (Agributel) who again made the early action, but the peloton was in no mood to see him take a Jacky Durand style victory and he was pulled back in.
Danny Pate (Team Slipstream-Chipotle) then took up the pace but he was brought back then Jens Voigt (Team CSC) Sébastien Joly (Française des Jeux) and Gorazd Stangelj (Lampre-Fondital) went on the attack and these three managed to build a gap after 13 kilometres and still 8 climbs to go.
After 30 kilometres this trio had built a lead of one and a half minutes, with Caisse D’Epargne leading the peloton.
With Stangelj (Lampre-Fondital) collecting the King of the Mountains points the three escapees had gained nearly two minutes as they approached the Côte de Perrières.
Stage 2 – courtesy ASO
By the time the trio crossed the Côte du Bois de L’Or after 61 kilometres they still had two minutes advantage, but the effects of the chase was being felt in the peloton which was starting to diminish in numbers.
With 34 kilometres to go, Voigt sensing that both Joly and Stangelj were beginning to tire and that the peloton behind was speeding up launched himself in a characteristic do or die effort to reach the line first.
Voigt used all his experience and power to pound up the climbs and by the time he crossed the Côte du Mont Malgré he still had around 1’25’’ on the peloton. Cunego, realising that desperate efforts would have to be made if Voigt was to be curtailed then split the peloton asunder with his own burst of speed.
Only a very select group of riders to hold the Little Prince’s wheel; Botcharov (Crédit Agricole), Brochard (Bouygues Telecom), Cardeñas (Barlowolrd), Caruso (Lampre-Fondital), Chavanel (Cofidis), Klöden (Astana), Lövkvist (Française des Jeux), Martinez (Agritubel), Schleck (Team CSC), Perez, Sanchez and Valvarde (Caisse d'Epargne).
However even with such a select band of riders chasing him down Voigt did not look back or falter and he held onto an advantage of 48 seconds as he crossed the finishing line in solo glory.
Stage 2 results
1. Jens Voigt (ALL, Team CSC) les 98,5 km en 2h29'00" (39,7 km/h)
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) à 48 sec.
3. Andreas Klöden (ALL, Astana) m.t.
4. Frank Schleck (LUX, Team CSC) m.t.
5. Damiano Cunego (ITA, Lampre-Fondital) m.t.
6. Giampaolo Caruso (ITA, Lampre-Fondital) m.t.
7. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA, Cofidis) m.t.
8. Thomas Lövkvist (SUE, Française des Jeux) m.t.
9. Alexander Botcharov (RUS, Crédit Agricole) m.t.
10. Laurent Brochard (FRA, Bouygues Telecom) m.t.
1. Jens Voigt (ALL, Team CSC) en 6h44'42"
2. Laurent Brochard (FRA, Bouygues Telecom) à 48 sec.
3. Giampaolo Caruso (ITA, Lampre-Fondital) m.t.
4. Andreas Klöden (ALL, Astana) m.t.
5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP, Caisse d'Epargne) m.t.
6. Alexander Botcharov (RUS, Crédit Agricole) m.t.
7. Damiano Cunego (ITA, Lampre-Fondital) m.t.
8. José-Alberto Martinez (ESP, Agritubel) m.t.
9. Frank Schleck (LUX, Team CSC) m.t.
10. Thomas Lövkvist (SUE, Française des Jeux) m.t.