McEwen Wins Stage 2 of Tour
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) has won Stage 2 of the Tour de France.
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) has won Stage 2 of the Tour de France. The Australian took a bunch sprint to win the rolling, 228.5-km ride from Obernai, France to Esch-zur-Alzette, Luxembourg in 5:36:14. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) finished second, and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) finished third. Hushovd has taken back the maillot jaune .<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The stage was ridden in warm, sunny conditions. Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), who is suffering from an inflamed prostate gland, did not start the stage. At the gun, David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) and Aitor Hernandez (Euskaltel) escaped and were not pursued. Their lead ballooned to 11:20 at 31 km. Discovery Channel rode tempo to peg the break.
Quick Step and Davitamon began to chase, and the fugitives? lead began to drop. At 107 km, 3:00 separated break and bunch. At Holling (169.5 km), the day?s second intermediate sprint took place, with Hushovd claiming 0:02 for third place and putting himself into the overall lead. On the day?s third climb, the Category 4 Cote de Kedange-sur-Canner (187.5 km), de la Fuente dropped Hernandez.
The peloton reeled in Hernandez before the day?s last intermediate sprint in Yutz (198 km), which meant that 0:04 and 0:02 time bonuses were available. Boonen grabbed the former, and Hushovd snared the latter, which buttressed the Norwegian?s overall lead.
On the day?s next-to-last climb, the Category 4 Cote de Kanfen (212.5 km), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel), and Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) attacked. Wegmann bridged up to de la Fuente on the Category 4 Cote de Volmerange, the day?s last climb (215 km). The German dropped the Spaniard and forged a 20-second lead over Gilbert?s group, which scooped up de la Fuente, and a 40-second lead over the peloton. Lampre and Milram, however, went to the front of the bunch, which reeled in the break with seven km left.
One km later, Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) attacked. For a time, the German looked like a winner, but Lampre and Rabobank chased. With 200 m remaining, Kessler was caught, and McEwen bolted into the lead. Hushovd, who had McEwen?s wheel, pulled out of his pedals when McEwen drifted to the left and bumped him during the sprint. The Norwegian stayed upright, however, and took the yellow jersey.
In the overall, Hushovd leads Boonen by 0:05 and McEwen by 0:08. Stage 3 could lead to a change of race leadership. The hilly, 216-km ride from Esch-zur-Alzette, Luxembourg to Valkenburg, Holland will have a classics feel. It should cause the field to break up to an extent, with the winner coming in alone or as part of a small group. Who will win? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!