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93rd Tour de France - Stage 2 Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 7/3/2006
93rd Tour de France - Stage 2 Live Coverage

93rd Tour de France - Stage 2 Live
Another day for the sprinters, or a day for the opportunists?

Welcome to our live coverage of Stage 2, commentary by Locutus and Andy McDobbin with guest Dave Shields, lets see who else drops in to add to the commentary. Join other fans from around the world to discuss the race in progress while you follow the ticker in the Daily Peloton Chat room.

Starting in Obernai, Stage 2 winds northwest for 228.5 km through some pretty bumpy terrain on the way to the Luxembourg city of Esch-sur-Alzette. With two Cat 3 climbs in the first 50 km and three Cat 4 climbs in the final 40 km, this is not exactly a sprinter-friendly course. Sprinters like Boonen, Hushovd, Zabel, and Freire shouldn't have too many problems with the terrain, but the hills will provide a launch pad for classics-style riders like Italian Champion Paolo "Teeny" Bettini, Chris "C-Ho" Horner (Davitamon-Lotto), Michael "Ultrabrite" Boogerd (Rabobank), Danilio "Nuke" Di Luca (Liquigas), and Fabian "Turn Me Loose" Wegmann (Gerolsteiner).

If the sprinters are focused and their leadout trains are diligent, they may get the chance to sprint for the win, but I'm looking for the peloton to explode with attacks in the last 15 km with a solo victor or a sprint from a very small group. And the Yellow Jersey may land in a very surprising place by the end of this stage.

And now for our poem of the day from Dancing on the Pedals: The Found Poetry of Phil Liggett, the Voice of Cycling by Doug Donaldson and Phil Liggett.

You can’t leadout for the line
and win.

Stage 13, 2002

That poem is particularly appropriate for Tom Boonen (Quick Step) who found himself in the wind leading out with over 500 meters left yesterday.

1553 CEST - Two men are off the front as we start the stage: Aitor Hernandez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Davide de La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Prodir). Their gap was almost 12', but it has come down quite a bit now. Hernandez won both climbs so far, making him the new leader in the Mountains Competition (so far). Quick Step and Lotto are on the front of the peloton driving things. Boonen came out to win 3rd at an intermediate sprint to put him only 11" behind Hincapie. Danilo di Luca won't be winning the stage today: he was sick, and so pulled out of the race before the stage. Thor Hushovd is in the stage, having gotten three stitches. In fact, Hushovd contested the sprint with Boonen… and it was close.

The gap is down to 7' 40" for de la Fuente and Hernandez. Quick Step, Davitamon-Lotto, and Credit Agricole each have a man helping with the chase up front. Discovery Channel, the team of Yellow Jersey George Hincapie, did not bother wasting energy chasing today. They let the breakaway build up a huge lead, and the sprinters' teams had to come to take over the pacemaking.

1609 CEST - Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) is looking quite happy in his Green Jersey. He had a great sprint win yesterday. Of course, the sprint yesterday was marred by a couple of run-ins with fans. It started with Tom Boonen, who moved over to the right barriers when he found himself on the front too early. He was looking over his shoulder going slowly, waiting for someone to jump, when he struck something: some fans had stuck their cameras out over the barriers to take pictures, and Boonen ran into their arms. Boonen was clearly knocked off balance for a moment and bounced away from the barriers. This forced him to start his sprint way too soon. Then Hushovd had his run-in with the arms of some more over-zealous fans reaching over the barriers a bit further on. It is still unclear what exactly caused Hushovd's cut on his arm, but he definitely hit the arm of a fan and a big green novelty hand placard thing.

1620 CEST - It is nice weather, warm and breezy here in France. It's one of those stages where the French producers are showing a lot of shots of local arhitecture and cows by the side of the road. Hernandez calls up his team car, and does something with his radio.
89 km left, the gap is down to just over 7' now.

 After the stage, Boonen complained about hitting the cameras of the fans, and said that he got a shock from one of them. When looking at the slow motion, you can also see a camera bouncing off Hushovd. Some reports have the camera giving Hushovd the injury, others say that it was the green novelty hand

 Dave: Relooking at it, I believe that he was hit in the arm by the hand and clonked in the head with a camera almost simultaniously. The camera did more than the hand to knock him off stride. Imagine how Tiger Woods would have dealt with fan involvement like that!

Saul Raisin has joined us this morning.

RaisinHell: I think Thor is going to win today.. He can not lose with his Raisin Hell bracelet.

He was in good position yesterday, and looked good at the intermediate sprint today...Some fast men are lurking at the derriere of the peloton, Isaac Galvez and Thor Hushovd among them. Johan Van Summeren of Davitamon-Lotto sets the pace in the pack. He's a tall man and cuts a big hole, so he's perfect to be leading the chase.

RaisinHell: I use to race espor with Vansummeren.. HE is a freak.
What do you think of the course today Saul?
The course is not that hard. Good for a power guy like Boonen or Thor. I was in tour de Swiss last year in the lead group for 25 up a major climb..I was getting dropped and Boonen was riding tempo at the front..
Andy: I had to laugh when I saw giant Van Summeren next to tiny Dumoulin earlier on today! Now I check, 1.97cm is almost 6'5" for Van Summeren actually crikey !

RaisinHell: They said my name on OLN They did a human interest story on me. Should be one day during the tour..

1535 CEST - Just under 79km to go for the two breakaways, and the pack's deficit is down to 6'20" as the pack sweeps through the town of Elvange. Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom) wears the red number of most aggressive rider today after his long escape yesteday. He's sitting comfortably in the pack today, spending much less energy. Hushovd has a large bandage on his upper right arm. He's dropping back to the team cars, and maybe to the doctor's car for some reason. Strangely, Hushovd doesn't look to be gesturing to his arm, but instead it may be some kind of stomach ailment.

RaisinHell: He's ok.. he is a pimp. He is a super nice guy... very nice, a true champion.

Have you ever eaten his mom's famous Norwegian home cooking?
RaisinHell:  nope, never
You're lucky, Norwegian cuisine is horrible... But she apparently follows Thor and cooks for him sometimes in big races...
RaisinHell: He can climb good..-as can all pro sprinters.. that's why he will win today I am out.. Bye guys.
Thanks for dropping by Saul, have a great day!
RaisinHell: No worries. I'll be online again maybe tomorrow.. you too "have a great day"

Back to the race:
It's Christophe Brandt on the front for Davitamon, still tapping out the pace. There are several Ag2r riders near the front too, including Moreau and Astarloza.
I saw Superman yesterday...  I mean, the Saunier Duval-Prodir kit is much cooler. "Superman AWAY... to the Giro d'Italia, so I can support my pal Gibo." We're getting Enzyte commercials right now... you know, make your ##  bigger, etc. etc., but watch out for side effect...

69 km to go. De la Fuente and Hernandez still take turns on the front, putting on a good show. Their gap is 5' 25".
A Milram rider punctures, but is soon on his way with a replacement and a beefy push from his team mechanic. Hincapie and his boys are near the front, but not working on the front. They are just keeping his Yellow Jersey out of trouble, but they aren't going to defend it: they expect to lose it today to Boonen, Hushovd, or maybe even Stuart O'Grady (CSC).

1555 CEST - 65km left, 5'10" for De la Fuente and Hernandez. Slowly and surely, it's coming back. The peloton certainly don't want the duo to be caught too soon, as the last 15km provide ammunition for attacks.

De La Fuente has a look at the route profile, taking it from his back pocket. The twenty-five year old has certainly looked more lively than his countryman Hernandez. So those three Cat 4 climbs near the finish will cause some problems. But the sprinters clearly think this day will belong to them: Quick Step now has about four or five guys on the front working for Boonen.

Through the second intermediate sprint in Holling (59km left), De la Fuente leads Hernandez across the line. Their lead is dwindling though, down to 4'30". The Quick Step train is hammering on the front ahead of this sprint. Clearly Boonen fancies his chances of a third place. The bunch is lined out now, it's every man for himself in the headwind.

Boonen wants 3rd at the intermediate sprint. Hushovd and Hincapie are in there too. Boonen and Hushovd go for it. Hushovd gets it! Or is it Sebastian Hinault? But "Phwoar" Thor comes over the top of him! Boonen was leading that out from about 350m So Hushovd takes back the Yellow Jersey for now. That 2" time bonus will put him back ahead of Hincapie.

1608 CEST - After that sprint, the deficit is now just 3'06": they are really cutting into the breakaway's lead.
Dave: If they moved all the sprint lines back about 200 meters Boonen would be cleaning up this year. Maybe someone needs to check his contact lens prescription.
Yeah, Boonen keeps jumping early, doesn't he...
Dave: I re-watched yesterday's sprint and had images of "The Look". Much harder to pull that off in a bunch sprint than on the side of a hill, though.

50 km left. The gap is only 3' 25". Serhiy Honchar is just off the pack of the bunch, having some words with Olaf Ludwig in the T-Mobile team car. The peloton is poking about a bit after that intermediate sprint. Milram is helping chase a bit. Their man Zabel is quite a good climber and will have no problem at all with the climbs at the end of this stage.

Saunier Duval is bunching near the front, but they have a guy over 3' down the road. Wonder what they are up to? The peloton is struggling a bit up a little climb.  By the way... an interesting fact (perhaps) - George Hincapie has worn a Tour jersey before. In 1998, he wore the maillot blanc for best young rider for a stint.
Dave: It's great to see the men out of the saddles. I'm really looking forward to seeing how those steep little climbs near the finish complicate things today. Wow. Now all George needs is polka dot jersey to complete the grand slam!

Only about 10 more kilometers to the first of the three Cat 4 climbs. Then we'll see if the sprinters and their teams can keep it all together. Some are struggling already, and this wasn't even a categorized climb. Hernandez is currently leading the KOM.  Laurent "Le Mullet" Brochard (Bouygues Telecom) is fetching bottles for his mates in the team cars. That is surprising... this is the kind of stage that would suit him.  Laurent Brochard, in his 11th Tour participation, is getting back on, weighed down by water bottles for his teammates.

Côte de Kédange-sur-Canner
De la Fuente is leading out up the Cat 4 climb now. It's the Côte de Kédange-sur-Canner, 1.2km at 5.9% Hernandez is hating life right now, it looks like... suffering, but still hanging onto de la Fuentes's wheel. They both sprint like crazy for it, but De La Fuente takes it. Looks like the breakaway cohesion may be breaking up a bit, in pursuit of King of the Mountains glory. Well, that will be an awkward conversation when these two have to try to work together again now that the climb is over.  He still has to make up the gap before talking to the Saunier Duval man!

 Wegmann is hovering dangerously near the front of the peloton, waiting to pounce, with a Euskaltel man alongside him, presumably trying to protect Hernandez's virtual KoM lead. Wegmann and Unai Etxebarria burst from the pack, but the German won it thanks to his bike throw.

1633 CEST - 37km to go now, and De la Fuente has dropped Hernandez, and is distancing him comfortably; 25 seconds the gap. De la Fuente is flying solo, but it will be hard for him to hold off the chase. But the sprinters teams had vanished from the front on that last climb... Credit Agricole and Milram are back working, setting the pace on the descent. Lampre has joined them. So Bennati must be feeling good! He did a good job yesterday.

Jens Voigt of CSC is lurking near the front. Is he preparing an attack or helping O'Grady? Well, Senor de la Fuente has already hoped himself to 40 seconds over Hernandez, and leads the bunch by 2'40".

Hincapie in his Yellow Jersey is looking quite good, hovering close to the front on the little ups and downs the peloton is rolling through now. Will Hincapie try to take another bonus at the final intermediate sprint to get time back on Hushovd? The camera pans to some lovely French paysage... and beyond it, a lovely quartet of cooling towers. They sure love nuclear power - 76% of the country's energy is produced by it! Yes, the French apparently have never watched the Simpsons... they might not trust it so much then. "Eh bon, c'est O-merrrr Seeeemp-son"

30 km left. De la Fuente takes the final intermediate sprint.
Dave: It will be interesting to see if Hinc fights for the bonus on the upcoming sprint. Does he want to steal the jersey back?  I have to say, this does enliven the stages on the flat - like Beneteau yesterday, when one rider leaves his breakaway companions and goes it alone, ultimately knowing in the back of his head that the chances of success are minimal at best.
Hernandez is caught, and now there is a bunch sprint for the final two bonuses at the intermediate sprint. Hincapie is in there, Casper is in there. Credit Agricole leads it out. Dave: Here goes Boonen. Got the timing right! Boonen is 3rd wheel, Hincapie drops out. Boonen 2nd, Hushovd 3rd. O'Grady just missed out. O'Grady was looking good there. Boonen now the virtual leader on the road with that sprint.

Boonen and Hushovd both really want the yellow jersey (and with it, they are getting a few more points in the green jersey bank)  The peloton is getting reorganized after that intermediate sprint. The sprinters are looking awfully frisky today. The man to watch in the final sprint now is McEwen: he hasn't been using energy in these intermediate sprints like Boonen and Hushovd, who are trying to get the Yellow Jersey. McEwen just wants the stage win, and will have fresh legs. At the back of the peloton, there's Erik Dekker and Aitor Hernandez, who is now in for a very tough last 20km. Dave: Great point on McEwen.

De la Fuente grimaces, spits and keeps turning the gear. He's done a good job so far, having been out in front of over 200 kilometres now. Remarkably, the attack went after 10 metres!

1650 CEST - De La Fuente shoots under the 25km to go banner. How long can he stay out in front? Lampre and Davitamon-Lotto have now put men in force on the front to chase. Hincapie is still near the front, out of trouble. Hincapie is only the fourth American to wear the Yellow Jersey, but he is the first Latino to ever wear the Yellow Jersey. For those who aren't familiar with that term, a Latino is someone from the United States whose family came from Latin America.

Johan van Summeren gets on the front and powers away. George's family immigrated from Colombia, and George was born and raised in New York. So George's time in the Yellow Jersey is a landmark for Latinos in professional sports and New Yorkers.
Dave: Horner is up there working hard for McEwen. I think we're headed for an epic sprint today.

22km to go, and 1'40" for the lone Spaniard. Kudos for this effort, it should win him the polka dots. Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon) is last in the line of the peloton; he was dropped yesterday and will probably suffer the same fate today.  Now at the finish line, the French producers show a shot of the captive models who are chained into cars each day in the publicity caravan. The models have to smile and wave while standing up in the cars. They also throw goodies to the crowd. By the end of the day, they are often a bit surly and launch the goodies with some real malice. I was tagged by a couple of MLPs (Model-Launched Projectiles) in the 2004 Tour. Even the gummy bear packets they throw can hurt when launched from a car only four feet away. Especially when they smack you right in the kisser. Dave: Thankfully, they won't be fling out any of those brutal green hands in the last 2K

Under the 20km banner, I make De la Fuente's lead about 1'20". Then again, writing is my thing - it may interest some of you to know that I can't count. Lampre is really showing that they believe in Bennati. He's a talented young sprinter, and he came in 4th yesterday not far behind the winner. Like McEwen, he's been saving his bullets today.

17km to go: Zabel and a Milram teammate are near the front, as is yellow jersey Hincapie. The peloton will hit the Cat 4 Cote de Kanfen soon (1.9 km at 4.5%). De la Fuente is trying to hold on and take all the mountains points. If he gets them, he'll get that Polka-Dot Jersey

Dave: De la Fuente got the points. Nice job!  He's out of the saddle dancing on the pedals (like the book says). Rabobank is now putting in some pace-making. But Wegmann is going for 2nd on the climb. Rabobank now come to the front, having been almost invisible all day. I wouldn't put Oscar Freire past beating McEwen, Boonen et al for the stage. Backsteadt is out the back today, so scratch him for the sprint.

Wegmann takes 2nd on the climb.  Wegmann is now in between De la Fuente and the peloton, alongside Lefevre and a Euskaltel man. So a group of three have attacked the peloton. Magnus Backstedt, another "Giant of the Peloton", and Wilfried Cretskens have been shelled out the back on this Cat 4 climb. Now the KOM guys are using their lead to launch a new break. This could get interesting because there's another tough little climb coming up. It was the three who went for the points at the top of the climb who are on the attack. They are getting close to de la Fuente.

Crash on the climb!  Four guys down. Gomez Marchante, another Saunier, Pozzato and Coutouly! Gomez is not looking very good either; didn't he break his collarbone last year in the Tour or something? Rotten luck. Lobatto is the other Saunier Duval man.

Wegmann attacks the others! He's going for points again on the climb, and maybe now he's going for the stage. He's past De la Fuente and pips him for first place! Wegmann gets max points Wegmann pushes on alone. He is capable of winning this stage for sure. Yesterday's stage winner Jimmy Casper has been distanced too; he's no climber, anyway.

9 km left. Quick Step and Milram are hammering away trying to catch Wegmann, who is the only man left off the front of the pack. Wegmann is on a climb. 17 seconds lead for Polka dot jersey clad Wegmann, but the chase is on.Well, the climbs now appear to be out of play where the sprint is concerned, though there is another little one coming up. The hills did claim a handful of victims, including yesterday's winner. He doesn't have much of a lead, about 10". It's a bunch of little stingers to the finish, up and down, but Wegmann is done. He's been caught.
Wegmann just flushed right through to the back.

7 km left. Hincapie is about 5th wheel still. Lampre is leading out up this little climb. Now an AG2r rider goes off the front. A Gerolsteiner rider counterattacks and goes over the top of the AG2r rider. And a T-Mobile rider counter-attacks and goes over the top of the Gerolsteiner man. Wow, it is just attack attack attack. Now Kessler of T-Mobile is putting in a dig. This could bust up the sprint. Hincapie is still 4th wheel. Boogerd is 2nd wheel.

5km to go and Kessler increases his gap. The gap is 10". The peloton is over the climb now, and the peloton is quite small.

4km to go: Kessler still has a good gap on a descent. T-Mobile needs a victory at the moment. C'mon Kessler! Milram and Lampre try to reorganize the front of the peloton and lead the chase. Something looks weird. Oh yeah, no green hands in the crowd. Freire is near the front, but Kessler is holding on! His gap is 15".

Crash!  2 km left. The crash brought everybody but the leaders to a dead stop, and probably gave Wegmann the win. Now a Liquigas man is stringing out the front of the peloton. The back of the peloton is at a complete stop due to the crash!

Kessler is going to win the stage! He is in the final kilometer! Rabobank is leading the peloton trying to chase him down, it will be close! Kessler is going to get passed!
Lampre is there, Valverde is there, Boonen is in the pack.
Kessler is caught!
Zabel and Bennati and McEwen go! It is McEwen!!!
What a sprint. McEwen does it. Where did he come from?

Zabel and Bennati and McEwen go! It is McEwen!!!

Robbie McEwen Wins!

Holy cow, he was hiding all day long saving himself, and he got it at the line! Brilliant that. Hushovd has taken the Yellow Jersey back. Freire was right in the fight, looks like 3rd or 4th. Boonen was 2nd, Hushovd was 3rd. So Boonen got second. Hushvod went the last 20 meters with only one foot on the pedals and still took third.

Wow, McEwen drifted to the left a bit and rubbed Hushovd... Thor had to pull out his foot to keep from crashing, and he put his hand up in protest. He was angry and clearly felt that McEwen had done something improper.

The sprint started as the riders chased Kessler up the right barriers on this slightly uphill and right-bending finish.

Boonen came through strong for 2nd, Hushovd 3rd. It will be close for the Yellow Jersey, but Hushovd will have it. I'm not sure Thor raised his arm in protest. He looked happy, probably thinking of yellow. Well, no word yet on that crash: we don't know who was involved. It was within 3 km of the finish, so nobody in the peloton who got caught up in the crash will lose time. So will McEwen get disqualified for moving over? Probably not, he didn't swerve much and it looked like a clean victory.

McEwen credits Fred Rodriguez with setting him up in the right position for the win; he felt Thor against his leg. Didn't seem like a big deal to him. He likes contact. Robbie is encouraging his mates in Oz to stay up until 3 or 4 am to watch him win again tomorrow. You've got to love his enthusiasm.

Results Top Ten: (Provisional)
1. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto)
2. Tom Boonen (Quick Step)
3. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)

4. Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
5. Daniele Bennati (Lampre)
6. Luca Paolini (Liquigas)
7. Stuart O'Grady (CSC)
8. Bernard Eisel (FDJeux)
9. Erik Zabel (Team Milram)
10. Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner)

Dave Zabriskie (CSC) was either caught up in or behind that crash. He doesn't show up on the provisional top ten for GC, but that will likely change after they evaluate the crash and adjust the times using the 3km rule. If you crash or are caught behind a crash within the final 3km, you get the same time as the people you were in the group with who finish ahead of you. So anybody in the peloton at the time of the crash will not lose time.

Provisional GC:
1. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)
2. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) @ 5"
3. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 8"

4. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) @ 10"
5. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 16"
6. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) @ 16"
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 18"
8. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel) @ 20"
9. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 21"
10. Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) @ 24".

This concludes our live coverage, of stage 2. Thanks for joining us today. Special thanks to Saul Raisin and Dave Shields for joining us.

Discuss the race in and cycling with Tifosi from around the world in the  Daily Peloton Chat Room. Comment and debate cycling topics, race tactics and your favorite riders on the Daily Peloton Forums.
Full official results, rider interviews and photos to follow.

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93rd Tour de France - Stage 1 Results
93rd Tour de France - Stage 1 General Classification
93rd Tour de France - Stage 1 Photos

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