Planckaert Snares Stage Two of Etoile de Besseges
Jo Planckaert (Cofidis) has won Stage 2 of the Etoile de Besseges. The two-time winner of the race pipped Geert Verheyen (Marlux) to win the 154-km stage around Marseilles. Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour) finished third, and Stage 1 winner Fabio Baldato (Alessio) remains the overall leader.
The stage began slowly because of a head wind during the first part of the stage. The hostilities did not begin in earnest until the second half when Vlaanderen-T Interim began to press the pace.
As the field reached the Col de la Gineste, Jerome Pineau (Brioches La Boulangere) attacked. Pineau's sortie and the Alessio-led pursuit split the peloton. The pursuers reeled in Pineau, but Stephane Berges (Ag2r) attacked at 89 km and took Nico Sijmens (Vlaanderen-T Interim) with him. The pair forged a two-minute lead before the pursuit began.
The rolling countryside and the Alessio-led pursuit put paid to the break. The bunch (about 45 riders strong) caught Berges and then Sijmens on the Col Cap Canaille.
During the descent of La Ciotat, a crash occurred. Regis Lhuillier's (La Francaise des Jeux.com) rear tire exploded, and Fabrice Salanson (Brioches La Boulangere) and Pierrick Fedrigo (Credit Agricole), among others, hit the deck. Both men wound up in the hospital.
With 15 km left, Anthony Charteau (Brioches La Boulangere) attacked. The peloton pursued and caught the Frenchman in the last km. Lefevre started sprinting with 300 m left, but Planckaert and Verheyen overhauled him just before the finish. The judges needed to examine finish-line photos before declaring Planckaert the winner.
In the overall, Baldato leads Michael Skelde (EDS-Fakta) by 0:05 and Franck Bouyer (Brioches La Boulangere) by 0:06. The standings will not change as a result of Stage 3. The 160-km ride from Place des Arenes de Nimes and Casino des Fumades has only one climb. The stage should end in a sprint. Who will win it? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!