Bakelants Soloes to Stage Win, Yellow Jersey
Jan Bakelants (RadioShack-Leopard) has soloed to victory at the Tour de France 2013. The 27-year-old Belgian surged away from five companions in the last two km and held on to win Stage 2, a hilly, 156-km ride from Bastia to Ajaccio, Corsica in 3:43:11. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) outsprinted Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) for second at 0:01. Bakelants’s exploit has given him the yellow jersey.
After yesterday’s chaotic finish, Stage 2 began and ended without confusion. Surprisingly, everyone started, including Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who suffered a concussion, among other injuries, at the tail end of Stage 1. Sunshine and warmth greeted the riders, and hostilities began at the gun. By six km, the break of the day had formed. David Veilleux (Europcar) attacked, and Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Lars Boom (Belkin) joined him. Within an hour, the quartet had forged a three-minute lead, at which point the sprinters’ teams began to chase.
At the base of the day’s first climb, the Category 3 Col de Bellagranajo, the break led the bunch by 1:50 while Katusha, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Lotto-Belisol pursued. Veilleux attacked his companions twice but could not shake them. Boom led Perez over the summit with the Garmin- and Sky-led peloton 1:00 in arrears.
At 80 km, on the Category 3 Col de la Serra, Veilleux attacked again, and Kadri joined him. Behind, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) attacked from the peloton, but the bunch, led by Francaise des Jeux, reeled in him and Veilleux. The acceleration dropped yellow jersey Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), who admits that he is no climber. The German would lose more than 17 minutes by day’s end, but he would don the points jersey.
On the Category 2 Col de Vizzavona, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked, and Romain Feillu (Sojasun) chased him. Ahead, Kadri suffered a mechanical. Near the summit, Sky took over at the front, and the bunch reeled in Rolland with 46 km to go.
Sky, BMC, Sojasun, RadioShack-Leopard, and Cannondale led the peloton. At the base of the day’s final climb, the Category 3 Cote du Salario, Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked. He was reeled in, but Cyril Gautier (Europcar) countered, and Chris Froome (Sky) set out after the Frenchman. At the summit, Gautier led Froome by 0:06. The peloton caught Froome. Gautier held out until seven km remained.
Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) countered, and Bakelants, Flecha, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida), and Gorka Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) joined him. The sextet built a 0:10 lead and led by that much with three km left. Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, and Sojasun attempted to catch the escapees, and at one point riders had to swerve to avoid a dog that ran onto the course.
With two km to go, the bunch was gaining on the break. Bakelants realized that it was then or never. He jumped away from his companions, whom the peloton reeled in. The bunch gained on the Belgian, but he held on for the win, his first after five years as a professional.
Bakelants willed himself to the finish line ahead of the bunch, as he realized that he would probably take the stage and the yellow jersey. “I see in the final that it’s going to happen, and I knew I would probably take this yellow jersey,” Bakelants said. “Maybe it will be the first and the last time in my career, but today I wear it. I saw in the last 500