92nd Tour de France Stage 2 Live Report
Commentary today by podofdonny, Locutus and Andy McDobbin.
Stage 2: Challans - Les Essarts, 181.5 km
A beautiful sunny day, and local team Bouygues Telecom will be highly motivated, this being on their home territory. The wind has dropped and the racing after 45 minutes has been very active with David Canada (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), and Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r-Prevoyance) being in the four men break.
Didier Rous (Bouygues Telecom) speaking to Richard Virenque this morning said their plan was to get someone in the break and maybe take the 4th cat climb to take the mountains jersey, after 45 minutes racing so far so good, hero of last year's Tour, Thomas Voeckler, is in the break, who have around 3 minutes 30 seconds on the peloton.
Team CSC are leading the peloton, but the presence of Bodrogi, who is just 59 seconds on GC, may doom the break.
Indeed Laszzlo Bodrogi is now in virtual yellow, so it would seem likely that CSC will start chasing in earnest soon.
115 km to go - 3'32'' the gap Robbie McEwen has a slight problem with his bike and drops back for some attention three team mates drop back to help him rejoin the peloton which he does quite easily.
112 km to go - David Canada takes the intermediate sprint, and then his team car comes up to replace his shirt number which has fallen off. Hardly the most serious mechanical he will have ever suffered...
108 km to go - Lance Armstrong moves up the peloton and shakes the hand of David Zabriskie - all smiles at the front of the peloton Armstrong is in the Maillot Vert today, since Zabriskie can only wear the one jersey. Pavel Pardnos as always on the flat riding shotgun for Armstrong keeping him out of trouble.
102 km to go - McEwen still at the rear of the peloton, long straight flat roads, blue skies and the sun as yellow as the race leader's jersey.
Jan Ullrich wrote in his diary yesterday - "I can't quite put a finger on what went wrong. Perhaps it had something to do with the crash, I did lose some blood. But I don't really think that's the reason.
"I felt in good shape actually and because of this was optimistic for today's stage. Lance did, of course, ride very strongly to come in just behind the winner but at first, I did feel somewhat demoralised. Despite that, I´m happy that things have finally got started.
"There is still three weeks of racing to go in the Tour and I will battle on."
Crash - Jaan Kirsipuu and Iker Camano crash with 2 other riders, the Euskaltel rider has a wheel change and now must chase to get back on the gap to the 4 escapees now over 4 minutes
93 km to go - Sheryl Crow is watching proceedings from one of the official cars. The 4 escapees are still making hay while the sun shines and have over 4 minutes advantage - CSC still lead the peloton.
90 km to go - Iker Camaño gets help from Iker Flores and David Herrero to rejoin the CSC lead peloton, behind them a wedge of Discovery Blue, then T-Mobile, with Vinokourov looking very cool in his national colours.
87 km to go - the four leaders have 4'09'' on the peloton which is heading through the feed zone. Every one through safely, and the pace drops as the riders sort out their food.
84 km to go - 4 minutes 10 the gap - David Zabriskie was very happy with yesterday's result -
"I'm extremely happy. It's a great achievement, and I hadn't dared dream, the big names would be unable to beat me. Of course I'd hoped to get a good time, but this totally took me by surprise. It'll be amazing to wear that yellow jersey, but first of all I'm here to work for Ivan Basso," said Zabriskie after the beautiful victory.
82 km to go and the pace picks up again in the peloton, now they have had their butties - it is Quick-Step who have come to help out CSC at the front. They will be working for Tom Boonen and will want to bring the race back together for a sprint finish.
Still Voeckler, Bodrogi, Canada and Calzati leading the race, Bodrogi in virtual Yellow by about three minutes.
Good to see Tommy V on the attack again. Of course last year his success in an early break gave him the Yellow Jersey. That won't happen this year with Bodrogi along, though.
80 km to go - the peloton ebbs and flows again and the pace drops slightly; FdJ sent men to the front of the peloton for Baden Cooke.
79 km to go - FdJ now at the front of the race, Jaan Kirsipuu in the Estonian National jersey, 4'13'' the gap.
The sprinters teams now taking up the work: FdJ, Quickstep and Davitamon Lotto all have men at the front, forcing the pace. They roll around a roundabout and out across a bridge. The river heads out to see, as we can clearly see from the heli shot.
72 km to go - the gap drops slightly to 3'58'' - it is a very hot day today, 36 degrees - so the riders will need a good supply of drinks to keep them going.
Of course in the olden days riders were very ill advised on drinks - Raymond Poulidor limited himself to 2 litres of water to avoid a "heavy stomach". But it's bad advice - a lot of old timers have liver problems due to not drinking enough while racing.
Wow, I can't believe they even made it to the finish that way...
It was in fact considered a sign of weakness to drink too much; indeed such ill advice was one of the contributing factors to the death of Tom Simpson.
Jean Patrick Nazon and Thor Hushovd will like this situation on the road. Both sprinters are getting to sit on along with their mates since they have men up the road.
Zabriskie said in an interview this morning that he is happy and doesn't mind all the attention that comes with the Yellow Jersey. He commented that he didn't sleep in the Yellow Jersey or anything like some people, as he sleeps "in the buff."
65 km to go - well, another great day for Voeckler, but it will be very hard for the 4 fuyards to keep away.
Noval (Discovery Channel) drops back to the team car for some reason. Probably fetching something for the boss.
1533 CEST - 62 km to go - David Canada, Tommy Voeckler, Bodrogi and Calzati still working well together, Quick-Step now move up in numbers to help CSC. The peloton pace still not too high, 3'23'' the gap. Quick-Step said they wanted to control the first week. We'll see if Boonen has the legs to follow through.
George Hincapie chats with Levi Leiphiemer as the Quick-Step-led peloton pushes on trying to close down the gap on the 4 fuyards, who have 3'17'' gap.
McGee (FDJeux.com) catches back up to the field. Not sure what he was up to, but it was clearly not a serious problem.
By the way, Zabriskie said yesterday that the CSC television cut out near the end of the transmission so "while everyone around me was screaming and shouting, I still wasn't sure." You get the idea it couldn't happen to a more normal guy - not that Zabriskie's awkward, but you can just imagine him walking down the street...
He also said, "We have Cervelo time-trial bikes, 100% aerodynamic, they're excellent."
I think that with the absence of Ekimov in this race, it is Marc Wauters who is the most experienced rider in the peloton - he rode the 1992 Tour with the Lotto Belgacom team, which also included a young Johan Museeuw.
The riders pass near an old monastery. Given the monkish lives they have to live, that's probably appropriate. Yep, real monks, those cyclists. Indeed, Sean Kelly notably said that he abstained from any activity with his wife for six weeks prior to the Tour de France.
1549 CEST - The Lotto boys chat a bit with the FDJeux.com boys - two lottery-sponsored squads. So it's a Belgian chase with Quick-Step and Davitamon Lotto at the front, with FdJ also helping out. Long straight roads, 47 km to go, the gap still falling. It's 2'44''.
Canada calls for his team car. Maybe he needs somebody to talk to on this long stage...
The 4 escapees will be all thinking abut the cat 4 climb and the KoM jersey which is up for grabs. And yet, it's possible they will be caught before that point. Indeed. You'd expect Vendée born-and-bred Voeckler would be utterly determined to get to the top of the climb first.
1556 CEST - 44 km to go, 2' 30'' the gap - of course as the pace speeds up there is an increasing risk of crashes - all the top men will want to be near the front of the peloton, which adds to the risks, as more men try to get onto less tarmac at faster speeds.
The fans are thick on the side of the road today. Take that however you want.
42 km to go - Da Cruz (FdJ) has been doing a lot of work at the front of the peloton today - he is a gutsy rider who likes to get into breaks - he missed the move today though, so typically works to pull them back.
The peloton is struggling a bit up a short climb. The terrain is not exactly flat, and seems to be getting less friendly for the sprinter types. Crash! Honchar. Tombak down too.
On the uphill drag, Quick-Step continue their work. As the camera pans to the back, we see the Dutch national champion's jersey (Leon van Bon) as well as Galvez.
As we just said, the chances of crashes increase from now to the finish. Bessey drops back to help Tombak, and no one seems hurt from that crash. It didn't seem to be a bad one... just a few guys fell over as the peloton at the back came to a near stop heading into a turn. The former Estonian champion looks fine, apart from a dusty backside.
1607 CEST - 34 km to go - Cancellara, leader of the young rider competition, is at the very rear of the peloton. 1'48'' the gap.
They're heading for the third and final intermediate sprint of the day at Chateau Guibert. Cancellara talks to the Fassa Bortolo car and starts to move back up through the peloton.
The Fassa men are probably enjoying not being at the front driving it right now. Either that or they don't know quite what to do with themselves.
33 km to go, 1'46'' the gap - Christophe Moreau (CA) near the front of the peloton - he will want to keep out of trouble since he has a history of crashes in this race. Moreau also has a history of boxing in this race too... hope he avoids that as well. And we see Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom) laden with drinks and passing a bidon on to team captain Didier Rous.
Nearing the sprint, the fans are waving the giant cardboard green hands given out by cars in the race caravan. Bodrogi takes the sprint ahead of Calzati and Voeckler.
1614 CEST - 30 km to go. The peloton seems to be going faster and faster, as expected. It is all strung out now.
Voeckler will be desperate to get the polka dot KoM jersey to add to his collection. 1'32'' the gap. Voeckler has a very cramped riding style - it always seems he has chosen a bike a size too small...
Bodrogi calls up the team car. They'll probably tell him that the break is SOL, or doomed, for those of you who don't speak acronym.
27 km to go, 1'26'' the gap. The peloton very closely packed now - very dangerous times for the riders - one touch of wheels and twenty men could fall.
The KoM point is now the big goal for the 4 fuyards...
Voeckler always seems so energetic. His style is very punchy, always out of the saddle.
1622 CEST - 25 km to go. 1'11'' the gap.
The peloton winds through some more farmland. Lots of stuff growing in France, and the Tour seems to go by all of it. Indeed, the country is still very agricultural, though urbanisation is still taking its toll on the France of the past.
22 km to go, the gap down to one minute. FdJ pulling the peloton, Zabriskie being well shielded by CSC, Bobby Julich on his wheel.
By the way, Fassa Bortolo still have sprint options - just when the workers thought they could get a rest, they might have to set it up for neo-pro fast man Claudio Corioni.
The roads seem to be getting narrower and narrower... 21 km to go now, the gap down to 30 seconds. Absolutely huge crowds through Bournezeau. Big Voeckler fans here - his named painted on the wall. The cars are being cleared out of the gap. The catch will come soon.
20 km to go, the gap 26'' - Bodrogi takes some bottles from his team car as the road winds, obscuring the quartet from the peloton for just a bit longer.
Well, the motorbike gives the gap at 35 seconds. The break still trying to stay away to the top of the climb. They want that Polka Dot Jersey! Now the KoM climb...
Calzati attacks, and is quickly countered by Voeckler. Now Voeckler sets the pace. this is their sprint - Voeckler doing a lot of work - hehe, they are almost finessing on the climb. Canada attacks. Calzati counters. Now Voeckler. He was clearly winding that up at the back of the little pack, Canada.
Voeckler takes it! He takes the KoM jersey! Canada went like a shot, but Calzati did the work, blew up and Titi then exploded out of his wheel to take it. So Bouygues Telecom have a good day, and raced just as Didier Rous said they would. I reckon the Saunier Duval man slightly underestimated the length of the Cat 4 climb.
1634 CEST - 15km to go, 45 seconds the gap.
Yes, it was a long drag - Voeckler will have ridden that hill many times, so he had a small advantage. Good riding by Voeckler, who didn't panic when Canada flew away, but let compatriot Calzati pull him within reach. Canada, Voeckler and Calzati lose Bodrogi. He looked to be struggling on that hill.
This will be more good publicity for the fresh-faced Voeckler, to ensure some more time in the Tour limelight. Bodrogi is back in the pack, Jan Ullrich at the very front of the peloton keeping out of trouble.
French teams to the fore - FdJ and Cofidis at the front of the peloton. McGee is near the front, ready to put the hammer down for Cookie. 12km to go, the gap still 32''.
O'Grady, McEwen and Vinokourov are also visible near the front. Another Fdj is right at the back - Sandy Casar - as is Basque Iker Flores.
Canada, Voeckler and Calzati have not read the script - they are not giving up without a big fight. Cedric Vasseur leading the peloton now.
Iker saving his bullets for the mountains. Yeah, that's it. 11.2km to go and the gap is down to 25". Near the front of the peloton, Ivan Basso grins and offers a helping hand to Zabriskie to keep him in the front ranks.
10 km to go. 23" the gap. Under the banner, the Mavic neutral support and head commissar's cars are moved out of the gap; never an encouraging sign for any break. Rabobank attack.
I bet it's Dekker! McGee is marking it. Not McGee, another FDJeux.com rider. Carlos Da Cruz is marking him.
And it is Erik Dekker. 8 km to go.
Dekker and Da Cruz are reeled in - still the three leaders with 15 seconds. Looks like Tankink on the front of Quick Step; the trio in front are really battling. It's down to 10 seconds now. Matt White is on the point. Ullrich is not far behind, keeping out of trouble.
Ullrich still near the front, absolutely huge crowds. Amid the Quick Step and Cofidis sea on the front, there is a splash of pink - it's Jan Ullrich, right up there. That's it for the break - they are caught with 6 km to go. Seconds before the bunch sweeps them in, Canada and Calzati shake hands - a very sporting gesture.
Discovery has a train near the front, keeping the Boss out of trouble.
Kirsipuu, Hincapie, Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich are all in close quarters, keeping out of trouble at the head of affairs. The Big Hink, George Hincapie, is really putting down the hammer.
5km to go - attack - Bouygues Telecom rider - Beneteau. Well, we have seen him water carrying - now he fancies stage glory. The front of the race is a bit disorganized. Beneteau is flying. He's in his home turf.
Yes, the local lad had a fine time-trial yesterday too. FdJ lead the peloton to chase him down, which they do. But no, he's engulfed by the all-white train of FDJ. 3 km to go - still FdJ at the front. Very active positioning... the elbow wars have started. Attack. A Saunier Duval rider is having a go... Not Horner, surely? Could be Fritsch.
Zaballa, as liquigas Bianchi lead the peloton for Backstedt. They also have Pagliarini, who has a wicked turn of speed. Quickstep is really trying to move up. 1km to go - Flamme Rouge. Backstedt on the front.
They're scrapping for position: Davitamon, Quick Step and Liquigas! Everyone wants this first road stage to keep the pressure off. McEwen is there, but Boonen counters. Boonen wins it!
McEwen went up the right-hand barriers... he had a good spurt, but Boonen jumped over to his wheel in time to come around him. Boonen just had the strength to power past when they were neck-and-neck. McEwen made the early move, but Boonen just powered on. There was a slight gap between the sprinters and the rest of the pack - Ullrich was in there with the fast men, I believe. Hushovd passed McEwen too... so Hushovd 2nd, McEwen 3rd.
Robbie just jumped too soon, it looks like... he had a good jump, but Boonen and Hushovd had way too much time to come around. So Boonen draws first blood in the green jersey competition, Zabriskie keeps his yellow jersey and his team did not have to work too hard to defend it. Well, there was a crash in the peloton. O'Grady 4th, Pagliarini 5th.
The crash caused a split in the peloton - Ullrich was in the front group - so he may have pulled time back. Only one rider went down - I think the time will stand (maybe), though the last 3 km are neutralized when there is a crash.
Boonen has won back to back stages, by the way - last year on the finish, and the first road stage this year.
Yes, Ullrich pulls back 5 seconds and moves up to 8th on general classification. Good racing from Ullrich - he stopped at the very front and got the benefit.
So a good day for Zabriskie, Voeckler and Boonen. And Ullrich pulled back time by smart riding. Don't think there will be any time splits because of a crash either, but we will have to wait for the official results.
The top of the general classification is Zabriskie, Armstrong, Bodrogi, Vinokourov and Hincapie, with Ullrich moving from 12th to 8th, as we mentioned.
No the organisers have invoked the three kilometre crash - there will be no change on Overall.
Stay tuned for full results and the Jambon Report, and see you tomorrow, right here, for Stage 3 of the Tour de France!!