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95th Tour de France - Stage 2 Live
By Staff
Date: 7/6/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 2 Live

95th Tour de France - Stage 2 Live
French attack - Thomas Voekler and Sylvain Chavanel are looking for home glory can they make it to Saint Brieuc.... follow the brave duo here

Stage 2 Auray - Saint Brieuc, 165km
A cloudy and slightly chilly morning greeted the remaining 179 riders left in the Tour de France this morning. Today's route begins in Aurray and finishes 164.5km later in St Brieuc. The one piece of news this morning is that Barloworld's Juan Mauricio Soler has started the stage, despite fracturing a bone in the left wrist and aggrivating his other. Whether or not he'll reach St-Brieuc is unknown

Following the neutralised section, Garmin-Chipotle's Danny Pate went on the attack, and was soon joined by Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Jens Voigt (CSC), Bernhard Eisel (Colombia), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) among others. Wegmann soon became the driving force in the break, and as the approached the opening climb of the Bieuzy-Lanvaux (23.5km in, 4th Category), he was still clear, along with a couple of other riders

© Amaury Sport Organization

Bouygues Telecom missed the break and, since their rider Thomas Voeckler is wearing the Polka Dot Jersey, raced hard to bring the escapees back. They succeeded, but it was Cofidis' Sylvain Chavanel who took maximum points. Voeckler took second (2 points), shadowed by Milram's Bjorn Schoder, who now trails the Frenchman by one point in the classification.

The Milram rider sat up as Chavanel and the King of the Mountains leader continued their attack. They soon gained a time gap of half a minute, and reached the first sprint at Camors clear of their fellow riders. Chavanel took the points, Barloworld's Robbie Hunter led the peloton over the line. With 128km to go, the lead is now 1'40, and the pack do not seem bothered about the leaders yet. St Brieu held the Prologue in 1995, where Chris Boardman crashed after 2km, and completed the shortest Tour ever.

122.5km to go - Our two leaders are working well as we approach the second climb of the day, the Côte de Kergroix. Again, this is another 4th category climb, yet Voeckler will be keen to take the maximum three points. Behind it is Caisse d'Epargne pulling the main bunch, Valverde is in the sixth wheel. He has gone for the yellow shorts and helmet to match his Maillot Jaune, though I suspect that his team will want to offload the jersey today.

121.3km to go - Voeckler takes the points over the top of the Côte de Kergroix. Without the time bonuses at the line, it could be difficult to offload it. He could do worse than wait for the time-trial at Cholet.

Definitely, I'm trying to think how to get rid of it; the team wouldn't drop off with, say, 4km to go and get a different time, as that could be fatal. Perhaps he'll do a Rasmussen-esque ride in the the Time Trial, and keep the jersey + surprise us all..

The race is still very quiet; both Robbie McEwen and Mark Cavendish have had to drop back to their team cars for a new bike and rear wheel respectively; both rejoined without a struggle.

If Valverde would like to hold on to the maillot jaune from start to finish as he said yesterday after the stage (not that I think he was serious in his enthusiastic statements) he would join and exclusive club of 4 riders that accomplished the feat of being in yellow throughout: Ottavio Bottechia (1924). Nicolas Frantz (1928), Romain Maes (1935), and Jacques Anquetil (1961).

Of course one has to take into consideration how the tour has changed over the years: Bottechia led in 1924 over fifteen stages; in 1928 Nicolas Frantz and the lads had 5,476 kilometers to race in 22 stages (2,000 km more than the current tours), in 1935 Maes led through 21 stages and 4,338km. Anquetil took control of the 1961 Tour on stage in stage 1b (Stage 1 was split into 'a' and 'b' stages - Anquetil took the jersey after Stage 1b) to lead for the next 21 days over 4,397 kilometers. Compare those tours to this years with a total distance: 3,554 km

1439 CEST - 103km to go - Voeckler and Chavanel lead by 6'26". French housewives can't have stopped screaming since this twosome got away... Voeckler and Chavanel? Ensemble?? Oh la la indeed. Two baby-faced French triers. The French duo are having their way with the peloton like a Rock star with a groupie at the moment.

On a personal note, Caisse d'Epargne has been my favourite jersey in the peloton. Black is the new black... but Valverde's all-yellow ensemble has butchered my love of their kit. It's now six cool Caisse d'Epargne men protecting a moving banana...

I love the way the teams bring all this colour co-ordinated kit in anticipation of wearing the Yellow Jersey. I'm told Cadel Evans has two year's worth of Yellow Shorts that are unworn.

1453 CEST - 92km to go - 5'30" is the gap between the peloton and the two breakaways. 1000m to go to the day's second sprint in Pontivy; is Chavanel going to pop around Voeckler as he did for the first one? The results of the intermediate sprint at Pontivy (74km): 1 Chavanel, 2 Voeckler, 3 Gilbert. The gap has fallen to just 4'15" now. Three FDJ riders attacked the front and led out green jersey wearer Gilbert, who took the max points holding off Hushovd and Hunter. I must confess to liking the Green Jersey this year, it is a new shade of Green easier to pick out in the crowd.

82km to go - 4'01" is the pack's deficit, they've gobbled up 90 seconds in about ten kilometres. We're heading into the stage's last two hours now. The wind is having a bigger effect on the exertions for Chavanel and Voeckler; it's in their faces, whipping up to 25km/h. Unsurprisingly, the bunch had power through it with more speed and saving more energy. 79 km to go and the gap drops to under 4 minutes.

77 km to go. With the direction of the stage, this wind will be present for the majority of the route from hereon in. The skies on the horizon look dark and grim as Voekler and Chavanel continue there duel with the peloton as the gap falls to 3:38. Are we due for some rain as we near Saint Brieuc?

Crash! Jalabert has crashed in the Feedzone. Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) is the victim of a bad-musette take from Andy Schleck. Either the soigneur's fault or Schleck's, the musette wasn't let go of immediately and Schleck got a bit caught on it. He slowed, the contents spilled on the road, but importantly his slowing meant Jalabert's front wheel was taken out. Nobody else fell though. Two crashes in two days in the Feed Zone; it's one of the most dangerous places along the route.

For Voeckler and Chavanel, it's the first Cat 3 climb of the race - the Mur de Bretagne. Straight up and steep near the top, there will be thousands of Breton fans lining the route. It's a real landmark in Breton cycling. This climb is known as the 'Wall of Brittany' Suddenly it looks like an Alpine climb, with crowds packed two or three deep towards the top. 600m to the top for the pair. And the first raindrops fall on the French parade.

Well, as the rains pours down, Chavanel interestingly crests the climb ahead of Voeckler to take maximum points. No rain yet at the finish in St-Brieuc.

70.3km - the Peloton reach the top of the climb, led by Christophe Moreau (Agritubel). They are 2'54" behind the leaders

Our live coverage continues Stage 2 Live Part 2

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