Cavendish Wins Stage 2 of Tour
Mark Cavendish (Sky), who has one of the best sprint trains in the business, won Stage 2 of the Tour de France 2012 without a train.
Mark Cavendish (Sky), who has one of the best sprint trains in the business, won Stage 2 of the Tour without a train. The Manx missile fought his way to the front in the last km and pipped Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) at the line to win the flat, 207.5-km run from Liege to Seraing, Belgium in 4:56:59. Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) finished third, and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) remains the maillot jaune.
Anthony Roux (FDJ-BigMat) ignited today's fireworks. The Frenchman attacked at about 20 km, and Christophe Kern and Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) joined him. At 55 km, the trio led the field by about eight minutes. RadioShack-Nissan began to pace the peloton, and the gap slowly narrowed.
With about 30 km left and about one minute separating bunch and break, Roux bolted away from his companions. Lotto-Belisol, Saur-Sojasun, and Orica-GreenEdge were having none of it, however, and reeled in the FDJ-BigMat man 14 km from the finish.
Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano took over at the front. With 10 km remaining, BMC moved up to keep defending champion Cadel Evans out of trouble. Six km later, Lotto-Belisol reassumed command on behalf of sprinter Greipel. The Belgian squad led the field into the final km.
Greg Henderson (Lotto-Belisol) towed Greipel to within 200 m of the finish line. Greipel burst into the lead, unaware that Cavendish had battled his way onto the German's wheel. Cavendish came around Greipel on the left and took a photo finish.
After the stage, Cavendish talked about the stage and what his efforts mean in the context of Sky's attempt to put Bradley Wiggins in the maillot jaune. "It wasn't too technical," he said, "but there was enough technicality to make it a bit chaotic with all the other riders there. Normally I'm out of the way in the front but today I could kind of freestyle.
"It wasn't as windy as I thought it was going to be, and that didn't play as much of a factor. It's been a good start to the race for the team. Brad stayed out of trouble, and hopefully he can continue on towards yellow. We're here to win the yellow jersey. I'm here to do what I did today.
"I've been on the back foot, but I've been more relaxed than ever coming into this Tour de France as the pressure hasn't been there for me to do anything. [A win] doesn't give me any more confidence as it's never easy to win a Tour de France stage, with a team or on your own."
In the overall, Cancellara leads Wiggins and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by 0:07. A bunch sprint will not decide Stage 3, the first stage of this year's Tour to be ridden in France. The hilly, 197-km ride from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer will feature six categorized climbs, including a Category 4 ascent to the finish. The stage could see a break or an uphill sprint a la Stage 1. Which will it be? Will Cancellara keep his maillot jaune? For the answers to these questions and others, check