|Photos by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images|
An ugly stage but good one for Quick Step as they went one-two in the sprint. Boonen didn't come around his own leadout man Gert Steegmans for the race finish, but he had no real reason to: they outsprinted the rest of the pack by several bike lengths.
The big story of this stage was a major pileup that occurred just before the finish. Only about 20 riders made it through as the crash covered the whole width of the road. Erik Zabel clipped out, which caused him to sweep hard right near the front of the peloton and take out a Liquigas rider. The riders pinballed left and right, crashing into barriers on both sides. Cancellara came in holding his arm as did Vaitkus (Discovery) and Fast Freddie (Lotto). Hincapie appears shaken from this photo as well. The injury reports won't be pretty after this one. Vino gave a little prayer as he crossed the finish line, probably to give thanks for making it uninjured.
photos by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
The stage had been fairly sleepy up until that point. Marcel Sieberg (Milram), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), and Cedric Herve (Agritubel) went in a break at 18k and lasted until 3k to go. There was a bit of infighting over the intermediate sprints as Sieberg was unhappy with Herve trying to take more than one prize, but, with the exception of a minor crash by Frank Schleck, there was little drama until the big pileup at the end.
My prediction: Tom Boonen. Classics territory. Finish in Belgium. McEwen nursing multiple injuries. Seems a good bet. I also hope to see some carnage around the Westende midpoint as the race passes near the ocean -- something akin to the CSC/USPS fracturing of the peloton in 2004's Stage 7.
Stage 2 is reminiscent of stage 3 last year, which wound through Classics territory in Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Stage 3 was the bad mojo stage: Valverde, Erik Dekker, and Fast Freddie all had Tour-ending crashes. Horner and O'Grady also met pavement and had more painful Tours after that.
CyclingNews Stage 2 Route Preview: "Monday sees the second stage of Le Tour returning to Europe and it passes into Belgium across the mythical roads of Belgian Classics like the Tour of Flanders, Het Volk and Gent-Wevelgem. Echelons and crashes could play a part in this nervous stage and the strong wind off the North Sea will undoubtedly be present. 'Tommeke' Boonen will be looking for a big win in front of the home crowd in Gent."
- Paul: Boonen
- Bob: McEwen
- Phil: Cavendish
- Al: Hushovd
kwc.org Stage Log
Rain on the course may make things miserably interesting
A break got away at 18km: Marcel Sieberg (Milram), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), and Cedric Herve (Agritubel). Herve took the first intermediate sprint. They're now 5:45 ahead with 104k to go.
Zabriskie is doing tempo duty at the front of the peloton. That duty cost him over 2 minutes yesterday as he fell off the back of the peloton near the end.
Cavendish explained his meltdown yesterday: he hit a spectator trying to move up the peloton. His bars and chain were out of sorts so he had to switch bikes and couldn't catch on after that.
Sieberg took the sprint from Herve and was clearly unhappy with Herve. Herve got a bit greedy and tried to take two sprints in a row. Sieberg easily sprinted past Herve and shook his head.
Hincapie is protecting Levi near the front of the peloton as they get ready for the feed zone.
CSC has pulled off the pace-making though they are staying near the front. No team has taken over yet. The breakaway is dropping to under 3 minutes with 66k to go. The peloton may get some bad weather soon. The pace is slow enough that riders are pulling off for nature breaks.
Vansevenant (Lotto) has jumped off the front to greet his hometown of Ichtegem
Nice wet roads for the breakaway. The lead is ballooning out a bit to 3:22 with 53k to go.
48k to go and the lead is dropping back down to 3:00. CSC is organizing the peloton again
The break got a couple of seconds after the peloton swerves a bit -- an obstacle of some sort?
Quick Step and Liquigas are now giving CSC some help at the front, but DZ is still doing the lion's share of pacing-making today
About three riders down including two CSC riders as the peloton went around a roundabout. The peloton is looking pretty strung out. Cuesta is pacing Schleck back up.
Perez took the last sprint bonus. Sieberg appears to have helped set Perez up a bit. Now Sieberg is launching an attack but Herve pulls it back quickly. 2:10 with 27k to go.
Gap is finally down to 1:37 and ropping fast with 18k to go. Pretty much all the sprint teams have sent a rider up to the front to do the pullback.
6k, 0:16, 31.3mph
5k, 0:11, Perez attacks and Sieberg/Herve are staring at each other. Herve starts the chase.
Sieberg pins it back easily and its three again
The peloton sorts itself out as the catch occurs.
Quick Step is now has plenty of riders up front. Big crash!
T-Mobile got three riders through. Lots of Quick Step riders made it as well. Everyone will get the same time.
It looks only like 20 riders made it through as the crash covers the spread of the road
McEwen made it through. Quick Step is doing the leadout.
Quick Step takes first and second place in the sprint! They keep saying Boonen, but I'm not sure he came around
Cancellara and Vaitkus are both holding their arms as they roll in
It Steegmans who took the stage as he and Boonen had several bike lengths on the rest of the sprinters.