Kittel Powers to Victory in Stage 2 of Tour de France
Germany's Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors Team) took his 10th Tour de France stage victory when he was first to cross the finish line of stage 2 in Liege, Belgium. French National Champion Arnaud Démare (Team FDJ) finished second in the fiercely contested sprint, closely followed by André Greipel of Team Lotto-Soudal. Dimension Data's Mark Cavendish surprisingly managed to finish the stage in fourth position.
Today's stage 2, which started in Düsseldorf, Germany was rendered even more challenging by wet conditions from start to finish. This did not prevent four breakaway hopefuls from attacking from kilometer 0. The group included Team Cannondale Drapac rider Taylor Phinney, Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro) and Wanty-Groupe Gobert's Yoann Offredo.
The four riders worked well together and increased their lead to almost four minutes before Phinney attacked on the second climb of the day, chasing mountains classification points and hoping to reduce the number of members in the breakaway group before the final phase. Phinney was first to reach the top of the climb and continued solo before being rejoined by Offredo.
30 kilometers from the finish the tricky rain-soaked streets, combined with roundabouts and other obstacles, proved too much of a challenge for at least one Katusha-Alpecin rider when he slid in a curve and brought down Sky Pro Cycling Team's defending Tour de France Champion Chris Froome and current race leader Geraint Thomas with him. Froome's bib shorts were shredded and he had cuts on his lower back following the incident. General classification challengers Romain Bardet and Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) also crashed, but the riders managed to regroup with the main peloton before the finish.
The crash in the peloton extended the lead of breakaway duo to about 50 seconds and especially Phinney proved remarkably powerful on his Cannondale bike. The duo was eventually reeled in with just one kilometer to go for the desperate sprinters who had decided this was to be their day of fame.
Geraint Thomas leads this year's Tour de France by five seconds and surprisingly looked anything but happy while being celebrated on the podium. Tomorrow's stage 3 of the 2017 Tour de France is a 212.5 kilometer stage that will take the Tour peloton from Verviers in Belgium, through Luxembourg, before concluding in Longwy, France. It will be a hilly ride with category 3 and 4 challenges and concludes on a climb. Look for a breakaway group to attempt to seize the day if not overturned by riders such as Team QuickStep's Philippe Gilbert and Daniel Martin on the final climb of the day.
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