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NotTheRealSteveWest

Tour de London

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Originally Posted By: Westie
Originally Posted By: American FLEET FAN No1
Originally Posted By: cantos
I cannot wait for Westies coverage of the Monkey tennis World Championship.


Or the World 100mm. Snail Sprinting Championship! grin


What a stupid thing to say.... everyone knows that snails don't sprint!



They do with salt on their tails! laugh

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Gert Steegmans took a home victory in the second stage of the Tour de France in Gent, while Tom Boonen made it a one-two for the Quickstep team.

 

A massive crash on the rain-soaked roads just under three kilometres from the finish put paid to the hopes of all but around 20 riders, though of the big favourites Boonen, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire and Erik Zabel were all far enough to the fore of the pack to remain unscathed.

 

With the Quickstep train still well in motion, it seemed as if Boonen would be set for victory as both he and Steegmans left the competition for dead over the final 100 metres, though the latter retained his speed over the line to take his first ever win in the Tour de France.

 

Boonen now takes over the green sprinters' jersey from McEwen, while Fabian Cancellara retains the overall lead.

 

With the weather still fair to that point, Milram's Marcel Sieberg broke away as soon as the peloton entered Belgian territory, and was immediately joined by Cedric Herve (Agritubel) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel).

 

Though the trio pulled clear of the CSC-led peloton, their lead never stretched beyond six minutes, and at no point did it ever look like they would hold of the pack.

 

Having ensured their deficit remained at a steady three minutes for the majority of the time in Belgium, the sprinters teams stepped up the tempo with 30 kilometres to go and reeled them in as they reached the final three kilometres.

 

The increase in pace came at a bad time for CSC's Frank Schleck, who fell on a roundabout, though was helped back to the field by Inigo Cuesta with no more than a cut elbow to trouble him.

 

With the rain long having set in under darkening skies, the chance of a fall over the fraught final kilometres was always present, and indeed came to pass.

 

A Liquigas rider was pushed in the middle of the field, and fell sideways creating a domino effect as others ploughed in. Within seconds around 20 cyclists were sprawled across the road, practically blocking off the rest of the field right the way across the road.

 

The entire field was given the same time for the stage as the leaders, though the physical damage suffered by some could be significant. Cancellara trundled home holding his wrist, while Fred Rodriguez rolled in bleeding from one arm and nursing an apparent collarbone injury.

 

Given the size of the crash and the speed of the pack when it took place, it would be a surprise if all 188 riders who started the stage will be ready to resume on Tuesday morning.

 

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Lampre sprinter Daniele Bennati has been taken to hospital with a suspected hip injury following a crash that left dozens of riders sprawled over the tarmac in the second stage of the Tour de France.

 

Wet roads played their part over the final few fraught kilometres as one rider fell in the centre of the pack, bringing down others either side of him, including Bennati.

 

"He is to have a scan on his hip this evening," medical staff announced.

 

The crash left a group of 20-30 riders on their own to fight for the stage win, with the rest blocked by the mass of bodies and bicycles across the road.

 

Bennati is currently Lampre's leader in the sprints. Should he be unable to continue the race, his role would be passed on to Danilo Napolitano, who won stage nine of this year's Giro d'Italia.

 

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Stephen Roche said Gert Steegmans' victory in stage two of the Tour de France justified his decision to join Quick Step.

 

Steegmans, who last year piloted Predictor-Lotto's Robbie McEwen to two victories in the world's greatest cycle race, pipped compatriot Tom Boonen to the line in Monday's second stage after leading out the sprint for his team leader.

 

1987 champion Roche said: "Team-mates can become leaders like when Sean Kelly was the leadout man and one day he looked under his arm, waiting for Freddy Maertens to come past and he never came past, Sean won the stage and became a full-time sprinter.

 

"You see Steegmans looked right across to the right hand side of the road and he sees that Boonen is coming through and then holds his head down.

 

"It's for Boonen to come through not for Steegmans to put the breaks on. Boonen just didn't have the legs to come past.

 

"When Steegmans came into the team from McEwen's Lotto team. everybody was saying it was a bad move as he had a future as a sprinter.

 

"They were saying what was the point of him leaving a team where there is a sprinter as equally good as McEwen - but a lot younger - to be his leadout runner.

 

"But he has helped Boonen a lot this year and it's great to see him coming out and winning a stage.

 

"The Belgian press is like the British one and they will always try to put their own against their own so rather than making the most of Steegmans' victory and Boonen taking the green jersey, they will be saying will it create tension in the Quickstep team."

 

A mass pile-up had caused havoc within the final two kilometres of the rain-plagued 168.5km stage and the Irishman said the fact that the weather had eased had lulled the riders into relaxing.

 

"There were difficult conditions all the way in and the riders were nervous and tense when the rain came down and it was very slippy," he commented.

 

"But when the crash happened there was no corners, no wet, the rider just hit a wheel in front of him and at some 45mph, there is very little room.

 

"With the helicopter hovering above you can't hear the brakes or the riders saying stop so all of sudden you run into each other.

 

"You've got a 700m straight line to the finish and it's not wet anymore so the riders sit back and relax a bit.

 

"It was the first time I've ever seen riders sitting down, watching the finish on the big screen."

 

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IN THE JERSEYS:

 

Yellow - Fabian Cancellara (CSC)

Green - Tom Boonen (Quickstep)

Polka Dot - David Millar (Saunier Duval)

White - Vladimir Gusev (Discovery)

 

FAVOURITE WATCH:

 

2nd - Andreas Kloden (Astana)

10th - Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) @ 17 seconds to Kloden

18th - Alberto Contador (Discovery) @ 22"

19th - Andrey Kashechkin (Astana) @ 22"

20th - Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) @ 23"

30th - Levi Leipheimer (Discovery) @ 27"

31st - Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 27"

34th - Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Épargne) @ 29"

92nd - Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 43"

95th - Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 44"

 

THE BRITS:

 

3rd - David Millar (Saunier Duval) @ 21" on GC

5th - Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) @ 23"

45th - Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) @ 47"

91st - Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) @ 56"

185th - Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) @ 3:37" (S1 + 2:45)

 

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A quick reminder of the situation with the jerseys. Fabian Cancellara is still our race leader in the yellow jersey. Tom Boonen's second-place finish in yesterday's stage gave him the green jersey, one point ahead of arch-rival Robbie McEwen. Vladimir Gusev wears the white jersey as he heads the young rider's classification, while Britain's David Millar is in the unfamiliar position of being the holder of the King of the Mountain's jersey.

 

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