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

95th Tour de France - Stage 2 Live Part 2
Thomas Voekler and Sylvain Chavanel continue their duel with the peloton as the skies turn grey as the wind tears at the peloton

Stage 2 Auray - Saint Brieuc, 165km
1528 CEST - 70.3 km to go.  the Peloton reach the top of the climb, led by Christophe Moreau (Agritubel). They are 2'54" behind the leaders

67.5 km - Voeckler takes maximum points over the final climb of the Cote de Saint-Mayeux. We are now just a few kilometres from the final sprint at Corlay. Caisse d'Epargne leads the chase at the front of the peloton Chavanel and Voekler show no signs of weakening or submitting to the chase. With no climbs till Thursday and the stage to Superbesse, Voeckler is assured of several more days in polka-dots.

After taking third on the climb, Christophe Moreau is persisting. Led by David Lelay - a summer transfer from Bretagne-Armor Lux after a fine early-season - they are currently in no man's land, 1'40" down on the breakaways. They've already put two minutes into the peloton though. Impressive stuff. Lelay is a Breton through-and-through by the way. I'm waiting for the French media to start saying Moreau is a potential Tour's traditional for it to happen in July. L'Equipe inevitably will give over column inches galore if Moreau fires away on Superbesse. The Tour de France is fast becoming the country's version of Wimbledon for Britain - it's been 20 years since a Frenchman last won.

60 km to go, 3:35 gap. It is pouring down rain now as Voekler ups the tempo on the front... Yet cornering is done at a much slower speed. Lelay and Moreau are only 50 seconds behind.

4 leaders now as the Agritubel riders have bridged the gap, what an impressive show of riding. Albeit, a slightly optimistic move. Surely the peloton will catch our four man lead group. Meanwhile the chase goes on spread out on the road in an echelon format to beat the wind as the Agritubel car tries to pass through the peloton... easy going there lads.

France definitely to the fore today - three of their best-known domestic riders are flying the flag on the road to Saint Brieuc. They should save up this energy for Bastille Day though. That said, July 14 sees a finish on Hautacam...

54km to go - Moreau, Lelay, Chavanel and Voeckler lead by 2'36"-  La Francaise des Jeux and Caisse d'Epargne are leading the chase.

Today is the tour de France so best of luck to those currently toiling in the Etape du Tour. Many will be on the Tourmalet and heading for Hautacam... at the moment among them Daily Peloton's editor at large, Londoner Mark Sharon. Stay tuned for Mark's report and review of the equipment he is using today in the next week.

1600 CEST - Just 47km to go, and the gap has held for the last few kilometres. These fresh legs are keeping the pace up. The deficit is 2'34" for the pack. Still it's the Francaise des Jeux team contributing to the chase as Valverde's crew gets a break.

40km to go - The echapée is just beginning to feel the pinch. 2'06" is the gap, no worries for the peloton considering the amount of kilometres they have to reel this quartet back in.

1613CET - 37.9km: The leaders have a gap of 1'47" now, the Peloton are clawing our cohesive breakaway group rather efficiently. It won't be long before the race is altogether, though I suspect they may be hung out for some distance yet.

Sébastien Chavanel must fancy himself today, because Francaise des Jeux are still on the front, working to bring in the break. I suspect his brother won't be too pleased with that. Considering the Williams sisters must be the only sibling act to face one another in a Wimbledon final, we have an awful lot of brother acts in the Tour: the Chavanels, the Schlecks, the Jalaberts... there must be a few more, we had the Gonzalez de Galdeanos too. The Indurians, The Bobet's indeed, I was thinking even in recent years. A ridiculous amount. The Zbergs... The Bobet's are slightly out of the 'recent' years category

1623 CEST - 30km left, and 1'30" is the advantage. The bunch are biding their time: don't want to catch the break too early. Voeckler is struggling to keep up, his breakaway companions may be shedding him soon. Thomas fights to stay on the wheel in the breakaway, he must be in a world of pain after two successive days in front. At the back of the peloton Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval) has had a mechanical problem and pulls back to the Mavic support car.

1627 CEST - 25km for our leaders Behind, Rubens Bertogliati is a crash victim on a wet patch on a corner. His claim to fame is his victory in the second stage of the 2002 Tour, which also bagged him a day in the maillot jaune.

Further back, Juan Mauricio Soler has been dropped. I can't see him completing the week, he must be in considerable pain. He has fractured his scaphoid on the left hand in the Giro, and has a problem on his right, but refuses to quit what is his main goal for the year. It'll be a long ride into Saint-Brieuc: demanding physically and mentally. The cameras and photographers will crowd round like vultures, hoping for a tearful abandon. I can't see that as an option for stoic Soler.

1631 CEST - Speaking of suffering, 1'12" is the lead for our four breakaways. To recap, originally it was just Chavanel and Voeckler, but they were joined 20km ago by Agritubel pair Lelay and Moreau. Quick Step are moving up the peloton now; they need to show that they are more than just a Boonen-orientated team in the Tour. Well... a Steegmans-orientated team instead. Plus ca change, eh.

1633 CEST - Under the 20km banner for the leaders, the gap is just 1'04". I can't see today's finish suiting Steegmans. Then who? Carrara did well to finish with the front group yesterday, I think he was 13th. There is a bit of a brutal short climb at the finish Indeed, the little climb could break it up. I loved yesterday's opener, so different to the usual sprinter-fest. Hopefully today's stage will throw up a few surprises too.

At the back of the field, spare a thought for Soler. Accompanied by Bertogliati, he is 2'30" down and that's with 20km to go... up front Voekler seems to have recovered and takes a pull at the front of the leaders. The proverbial merde is about to hit the fan. The break are resisting really well, but the peloton are about to hit the after-burners. 15km to go, 1'00" is the finely-poised difference.

Caisse d'Epargne back at the front with Quick Step giving way briefly... Valverde has got his team working on the front as the road begin to become cluttered with road furniture. Caisse will want to escort Valverde to the finish at the front if they intend to keep the leaders yellow cape.

1643 CEST - 12km to go. 54 seconds the difference. Now Crédit Agricole and Quick Step hit the front to take over the chase. This is going to be a fast and furious chase. Will Valverde attempt a second stage victory today? Valverde will do well i think, but not THAT well. Hushovd maybe or Freire. All the lead group need to do is to keep working together....from there you never know.

Going on the principle the bunch takes a minute per 10km, these plucky guys have no chance. 10km to go - The lead is down to 43 seconds, but Moreau is still firing on all cylinders on the front. The Agritubel riders are injecting some pace up front. All credit to them, they are really worrying the peloton, who are eyeballs out in pursuit.

1647CEST - 7km to go, The gap is now 36", Credit Agricole, FDJ and Quick Step are all contributing. No sign of Robbie McEwen just yet, Cavendish is near the front. Jimmy Engoulvent swings off the front after doing a monster turn for Crédit Agricole. Valverde is near the front, yet he only has a couple of team-mates surrounding him; Liquigas start moving up for Pippo Pozzato.

5 kilometres to go - The gap is 30 seconds. It could easily be extinguished on the climb near the finish, but this is great resistance. The four man group are hanging on! Voeckler is the weakest man in the group, any true acceleration will see the gutsy Frenchman dropped.

4km to go now - 28" is the gap The Peloton are strung out, there roads are narrow and this will hinder their efforts. This is the hill where Chris Boardman crashed in the 1995 Prologue. Up the small ascent, the break is leaking seconds. Just 22 seconds now. Moreau is all-out on the front. Four Quick Step riders on the front, Steegmans in final wheel

Voeckler looks back, as if he expects to see the pack any time soon. Only 20 seconds. Another two seconds have been lost.

3km to go... and 13 seconds. It's done. Game over surely! Chavanel attacks! Voeckler has responded, what is he made of!

2.5km to go - 11" is the gap. 2500 metres for Sylvain Chavanel. He has 12 seconds. Moreau and Voeckler are distanced.  Lelay is caught by the peloton under the 2k banner. The Team Colombia boys are now at the front of the pack. Only seven seconds for Chavanel, and the peloton can see him now. Moreau and Voeckler are reprised. Valverde is still there!

Chavanel is riding hard, the Peloton are lurking... Cancellara gives a massive dig. Crash at the back, Hoste has gone down.

1km to go, Nobody could hold his wheel. Under the flamme rouge, it's world champion Cancellara. Fabian still leads, he's looking strong. Looks like Pozzato is chasing. Evans and Valverde still near the front of the group. He makes the junction but they can't stop there.

Cresting the climb, Thor and rivals spread out across the road....
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

500m to go. Schumacher and Pineau are behind. Pozzato has the sprint to beat Cancellara, but they've been caught! Valverde Goes!! It's Hushovd.

Thor full out for the line... Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Hushovd leads the sprint, Kirchen was on the move... Columbia were all over that sprint! But Hushovd nicked it.

Thor Hushvod Wins!!!

What a tough finish. Chaos again at the finish! The hill proved vital in closing the initial breakaway group down, Cancellara went a little too early. What an exciting finish too! Pozzato sat on Cancellara hoping he'd drag him to 200m to go. No such luck. The peloton were disjointed, so Cancellara, in hindsight, could have waited a bit longer. Kirchen's first acceleration was incredible, but once he got onto Hushovd's wheel, he couldn't overhaul him.

Sixth tour victory in the bag for Hushvod. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 2 Results (provisional)
1. Thor Hushovd
2. Kim Kirchen
3. Gerald Ciolek
4. Hunter
5. Erik Zabel
6. Trofimov
7. Oscar Friere
8. Casper
9. Elimger
10. Duque

GC... Valverde maintains the maillot jaune. Quite a frenetic last 30 kilometres. Valverde, Kirchen, Freire, Cobo, Evans, Pineau, Millar, Ricco all at 1 second.

A very happy Thor Hushvod steps to the podium to take the kisses from the misses for his sixth tour stage victory and notches up points for his campaign for the green jersey. However it is Columbia's Kim Kirchen who has taken over the lead in the points competition with 54 points.

Voekler retains his climbers jersey after a day picking up points in the break. Riccardo Ricco arrives and slips into the white jersey of the best young rider.

It looked like the break would be caught with lots of time to spare with an hour to go, but Moreau and Lelay gave them a bit of extra oomph, and they were only 2 kilometres from a famous result.

Barloworld's Mauricio Soler made a brave effort today finishing 7:18 after the winning sprint of Hushvod.

Stage 2 Results
1. HUSHOVD Thor 81 CREDIT AGRICOLE 3h 45' 13"

All same time

Official General Classification after Stage 2
1. VALVERDE Alejandro 31 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 8h 21' 20"
2. KIRCHEN Kim 41 TEAM COLUMBIA    00' 01"
3. FREIRE Oscar 133 RABOBANK   00' 01"

4. COBO ACEBO Juan Jose 173 SAUNIER DUVAL - SCOTT   00' 01"
5. EVANS Cadel 1 SILENCE - LOTTO  00' 01"
6. PINEAU Jérôme 145 BOUYGUES TELECOM   00' 01"
7. MILLAR David 198 GARMIN CHIPOTLE  00' 01"
8. RICCO Riccardo 171 SAUNIER DUVAL - SCOTT  00' 01"
9. SCHLECK Frank 17 TEAM CSC SAXO BANK   00' 01"
10. POZZATO Filippo 61 LIQUIGAS  00' 01"

This concludes our live coverage of Stage 2. Join us tomorrow for the live coverage of Stage 3: Stage 3 from Saint Malo to Nantes, 195km Profile here.  Nick Bull's preview of Stage 3 can be found here. Until then enjoy discussing the race on the forums and in the chat room.

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