The result for the 168.5km stage to Gent is:
1. Gert Steegmans (QSI)
2. Tom Boonen (QSI)
3. Filippo Pozzato (LIQ)
4. Robert Hunter (BAR)
5. Romain Feillu (AGR)
6. Robbie McEwen (PRL)
7. Erik Zabel (MRM)
8. Heinrich Haussler (GST)
9. Oscar Freire (RAB)
10. Sebastien Chavanel (FDJ)
Fabian Cancellara has limped home after the fall in the closing kilometers. He is nursing his left arm and doesn’t appear too comforable at all.
Gert Steegmans was meant to lead Tom Boonen to the line but the domestique has turned into the winner in Gent. It’s a one-two for the Belgian squad.
It looks like Gert Steegmans has beating his team-mate Boonen to the line. It’s a one-two for the local squad.
There are four Quickstep men leading to the line. It’s perfect for Boonen but Zabel is in the shadows...
There are about 25 riders in front of the fall including three T-Mobile riders who are currently matched by three Quickstep men including Boonen.
There has been a huge fall in the peloton. The yellow jersey is caught up...
The peloton has caught up with the leading trio at the 2,800m to go mark. The bunch has taken the final turn and the sprinters are now lining up for the big finish. Quickstep and T-Mobile are in charge...
Perez has been chased down by both Sieberg and Herve. They have a lead on the peloton of about 10" but are insisting with their effort.
Sieberg has launched an attack down the left of the road but he was matched by Herve and Perez with 5km to go. Now Perez has gone clear and opened up a lead of about 100m.
The peloton is now just 30" behind the escapees. The sprint teams lining up for the rush to the line: Quickstep, Credit Agricole, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner... they’re all there. The roads are dry and conditions perfect for a bunch sprint.
According to France Television, in the last 10 minute riders from the Predictor-Lotto team have been at the front of the peloton for 64% of the time; Credit Agricole 24%... and Quickstep just 7%. Riders from these three squads claimed the first three places in stage one.
With the leading trio less than 10km from the finish all the sprint teams are moving forward. The latest squad to muscle its way to the head of the peloton is Gerolsteiner which has two quality sprinters: Robert Forster and Heinrich Haussler. The advantage of the escapees has dropped to 40".
The escapees who attacked at the 18km mark are now just 1’00" ahead of the peloton. The maximum gain for Sieberg, Herve and Perez was 5’55" at the 65km mark...
There are now two Rabobank riders also sharing the workload at the front of the peloton. The Dutch team’s sprinter, Oscar Freire was 7th in stage one and will be looking to add another victory to his growing resume.
The advantage of the leading trio is now 1’30". The peloton is still riding in wet conditions but the sun is shining at the finish and the leading trio are currently on dry roads. They have 15km to race.
The rider who finished fourth in the prologue on Saturday, Bradley Wiggins, grew up in London but he was born in the city that’s hosting the finish today.
Vansummeren is still stomping away at the head of the peloton which is now less than 20km from the finish with a deficit to the leading trio of 1’45".
The three leaders now have less than 20km to race. The last time check had them 1’55" ahead of the peloton.
The three leaders are swapping off with even turns. In the last 10 minutes the breakdown of the amount of time spent on the front is:
Ruben Perez - 35%
Cedric Herve - 33%
Marcel Sieberg - 32%
The peloton is now getting soaked. The skies have opened up and, as the bunch passed under the 25km to go banner, the rain is pouring down. Johan Vansummeren is setting the pace and the bunch’s deficit to the leaders has dropped to 2’05".
The president of the IOC, Mr Jacques Rogges, lives in Deinze which is at the 143km mark of today’s stage. It’s also the hometown of the 1990 world champion Rudy Dhaenens (who died in 1998 in a car crash while on his way to the Tour of Flanders).
The leading trio have just taken the points for the third intermediate sprint of the stage. The result is:
1. Ruben Perez (EUS) 6pts/6"
2. Cedric Herve (AGR) 4pts/4"
3. Marcel Sieberg (MRM) 2pts/2"
Sieberg appears keen to up the pace. He has risen from the saddle a few times and is trying to ensure that his escape survives for as long as possible.
The peloton is now riding in the rain. It’s not heavy but enough to wet the roads and make conditions a little trecherous. The advantage of Sieberg, Herve and Perez is now 2’30" and the peloton has a little over 30km to race.
Cuesta and Schleck have rejoined the peloton after the recent crash of last year’s winner at L’Alpe d’Huez. The Luxemburger has some abrasions on his left arm.
The oldest rider in the peloton, Inigo Cuesta, is the man who has stopped to wait for Schleck who crashed. The two CSC riders are now riding back through the convoy and should rejoin the peloton shortly.
There has been a crash in the peloton. One of the riders caught up in the fall is Frank Schleck of the CSC team. He’s back on his bike and has the support of one colleague to tow him back to the peloton.
Two riders from both the Preditor-Lotto and Credit Agricole teams have moved to the front of the peloton.
Robbie McEwen lives not far from where today’s stage concludes. He is wearing the green jersey (again) and has just moved himself to the head of the peloton. He’s waving to supporters from his second home. His wife, Angelique is from Flanders and the Australian has got a lot of fans in Belgium.
The advantage of the leading trio is still 2’50". The peloton appears confident that, in the final 40km, they can reel in Sieberg, Herve and Perez. There’s no panic in the pursuit and a number of riders have just pulled over to the side of the road to answer the call of nature.
The CSC riders at the front of the peloton now have some extra company. There are riders from the sprinters’ teams moving forward including: Quickstep, Milram and a few riders from Credit Agricole as well. The advantage of the leading trio is currently 2’50".
Gorka Gerrikagoïtia, a directeur sportif for the Euskaltel-Euskadi team was contacted recently by LeTour.fr. “Yesterday it was our plan to get someone in the escape but we weren’t able to get anyone in the move," said Gerrikagoïtia. "Today there was no plan but it’s always good to have someone in the attack group."
Ruben Perez is the team’s representative in the escape today and Gerrikagoïtia is realistic about his chances. "Clearly the three leaders are still a long way from Gent and it’s going to be hard for them to stay ahead but who knows…?
“Ruben is a courageous rider who likes this kind of escape. He hasn’t won a pro race yet but he has tried several times in the Vuelta in a similar style of breakaway. He also has a good speed if it came down to a sprint against his escape companions today.”
With the peloton now on wet roads, the CSC team has come forward to ensure that the yellow jersey doesn’t get caught up in any trouble. There are seven riders from the Danish-registered squad at the head of the pack. Tucked in behind are riders from the Astana squad, including the new father Andrey Kashechkin.
While the peloton pedals along under sunny skies the escapees are riding through a shower of rain. The deficit of the main pack to the lead group is 3’20". There has been rain at the finish but right now the roads are dry in Gent.
Wim Vansevenant is from a town called Eernegen. "He has a lot of friends in this area," said his Predictor-Lotto director when contacted by LeTour.fr, Hendrik Redant. "I’ve seen a lot of flags with his name on it. He wanted to say hello to his family and friends and that’s why we saw him at the front of the peloton recently."
Vansevenant was one of the key team-mates for Robbie McEwen yesterday. The Flemish rider helped get the Australian back to the peloton after his crash with 22km to go. The intention is to try for win number two today. "It was a great win yesterday," said Redant. "Robbie proves how good he is with a great sprint. Of course it would have been better if he didn’t have the crash but perhaps that’s what made his victory even more spectacular.
"Let’s hope we can repeat it. It’s very important for us to win today; the finish is near the sponsors’ home. Yesterday was superb but it would be great to win in Belgium.
"At the moment, the three leaders aren’t too dangerous not even on these roads in this wind. We just want to control the final kilometers and make sure that Robbie has the best possible chance to win again."
One of the hardest working domestiques of the Predictor-Lotto team, Wim Vansevenant has gone to the lead of the peloton. The Flemish rider has been allowed to ride at the front of the pack without any chase because he lives in the region where the race is today.
Some riders from the T-Mobile and AG2R teams are moving to the front of the peloton. It looks like it’s time for the sprint teams to start contributing to the pace of the chase.
The peloton is at the 100km mark and has a deficit to the leading trio of 2’50".
Of the three riders in the lead, Ruben Perez is spending more time in the wind that the others. The percentage of time at the front is like this:
Ruben Perez - 38%
Marcel Sieberg - 33%
Cedric Herve - 29%
This breakdown is for the last 10 minutes of racing.
The stage leaders have just reached the 97km mark. They are in the town of Gistel, which is where the two-time Tour champion (from 1936 and 1939) Sylvere Maes was born. This is also where the ‘Lion of Flanders’ Johan Museeuw is from.
"It’s obvious what we want to do today," said one of the Quickstep-Innergetic team’s directeur sportifs, Wilfried Peeters when contacted recently by LeTour.fr. "We’re riding with the intention of setting up a sprint.
"With three riders in the lead, there’s no real cause for concern at the moment... they have a lead that I think we can pull back before the finish. We have plenty of time to start the chase."
Tom Boonen is one of the big favorites for the stage that concludes in the town where Quickstep is based. And he’s got extra motivation after finishing third yesterday. "Yesterday we made a few mistakes in the final kilometre," said Peeters, "and we’re looking to make amends in Gent.
"We are in our country and we have plenty of time to organize a chase. Right now we’re happy having CSC at the front of the peloton... it makes sense because they have the yellow jersey and they want to defend it."
The average speed for the second hour of racing in stage two is 46.3km/h.
Sieberg, Herve and Perez are now at the 87km mark in Slijpe. They have a lead of 4’30". The maximum gain of this trio was 5’55" at the 65km mark.
Of the 189 riders who started the 2007 Tour de France, Marcel Sieberg - the man who instigated the escape today - is the tallest (at 189cm).
The result of the sprint in Westende at the 81.5km mark is:
1. Marcel Sieberg (MRM) 6pts/6"
2. Cedric Herve (AGR) 4pts/4"
3. Ruben Perez (EUS) 2pts/2"
This trio is 4’45" ahead of the peloton.
The leading trio are sharing the workload well. French Television has estimated the percentage of time each of the men in the escape group are spending on the front. The breakdown is as follows:
Cedric Herve (AGR) - 35%
Ruben Perez (EUS) - 33%
Marcel Sieberg (MRM) - 32%
Sieberg (MRM), Perez (EUS) and Herve (AGR) are now at the 73.5km mark. They are 4’40" ahead of the peloton that continues to be led by riders from the CSC team. Also hovering near the head of the pack are riders from the Quickstep and Astana squads.
Andrey Kashechkin will have extra motivation for a good performance in the Tour de France. The rider who finished third in the Vuelta A Espana last year - and is part of the Astana squad at this year’s Tour - has just become a father. His wife just gave birth to a 3.2kg baby boy called David.
The leading trio are 100km from the finish of today’s stage. They started their escape at the 18km mark and are currently 5’50" ahead of the peloton.
The bunch is still being controlled by the CSC team. It is at the 57km mark and its deficit to the leading trio - Sieberg, Perez and Herve - is up to 5’00".
The directeur sportif of the Agritubel team offered a few thoughts on the race so far when he was recently contacted by LeTour.fr. “We’ve got one of the three riders in the lead group," said Denis Leproux. "That’s great for the team.
"It’s hard to stay away on a stage like this - it’s 99 per cent sure that the day will end in a bunch sprint - but we’ll try. It’s good to get in the move and have our colors on the television. We missed out on getting the polka-dot jersey yesterday but we’re prepared to try something whenever the opportunity presents itself.”
The peloton is now at the 52km mark and is 3’50" behind the trio of Sieberg, Herve and Perez.
The latest time check had Sieberg, Herve and Perez ahead of the peloton by 2’15". This is likely to increase significantly soon as the yellow jersey and a number of other riders in the peloton have declared it time to consider things other than the pursuit (ie. answering the call of nature).
The points for the sprint in Boezinge were won by:
1. Cedric Herve (AGR) 6pts/6"
2. Ruben Perez (EUS) 4pts/4"
3. Marcel Sieberg (MRM) 2pts/2"
The average speed for the first hour of racing in stage two is 45.5km/h.
The peloton appears intent on reeling in the escapees. The maximum gain was 2’40" at the 37km mark but that has dropped recently to 2’10".
One of the riders in the Quickstep team is from Dunkerque and he recognized that the peloton will have to be alert if it is to avoid any issues that are hallmarks of this region. “It’s a stage that’s bound to be very nervous,” said Cedric Vasseur, a rider who began his cycling career as a member of the Dunkerque club.
“The teams of the sprinters really want to win and they will control the course at all cost to try and ensure the stage ends in a bunch finish. We’ll have to be really careful not to fall in the trap and get caught behind the break. The wind in this part of the world can be very strong and it has the potential to create big gaps in the peloton.”
Sieberg, Herve and Perez have been allowed to increase their leading margin. The CSC team is in charge of the peloton which is now at the 37km mark and 2’40" behind the leading trio.
The first intermediate sprint of the day is due in 5km.
The peloton is at the 32km mark and is being controlled by riders from the CSC team.
The three escapees are now 1’35" ahead of the peloton. The best placed in general classification of this trio is Ruben Perez of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. He began the day in 53rd place, 48" behind Cancellara. He is the virtual leader of the race. The next best of the trio is Marcel Sieberg (who instigated the move at the 18km mark) who was 131st at 1’05". Cedric Herve of the Agritubel team began the day in second-last place in the overall rankings. He was 4’15" behind the yellow jersey.
The so-called ’Eagle Of Toledo’, Federico Bahamontes celebrates his 79th birthday today. The Spaniard won six King of the Mountains crowns at the Tour de France (in 1954, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1963 and 1964). He also won seven stages of the race during his long career.
Sieberg, Perez and Herve are now 45" ahead of the peloton which has just reached the 21km mark of today’s 168.5km stage.
The Spaniard on the AG2R team, Jose Luis Arrieta has just punctured his rear tyre.
Ruben Perez (EUS), Cedric Herve (AGR) and Marcel Sieberg (MRM) are the men who have a 20" lead on the peloton.
The peloton has just crossed the border from France to Belgium. Two other riders have joined Sieberg in the lead of the stage. We await confirmation of the men involved in the escape.
The first attack of the second stage has come from Marcel Sieberg of the Milram team. He began his move at the 18km mark and the peloton has reacted swiftly.
The rider who wears the polka-dot jersey today is David Millar. His Saunier Duval-Prodir team has instigated a special project with the hopes of planting one million trees in Mali. Part of that initiative involves a donation of one tree for every kilometer that a member of the squad spends in an escape during this year’s Tour.
Millar attacked at the 3km mark of stage one and was caught by the peloton after 150km in the lead. So, in effect, the Scot was responsible for the planting of 150 trees in the African country thanks to his efforts yesterday.
There has been no sign of any attacking intentions early in today’s stage. The bunch is at the eight kilometer mark and it’s still all together.
There have been some showers early today at the site of the start but, for now, the roads are dry and the rain is not falling. The bunch remains grouped and there have been no early escape attempts.
The first rider to abandon the 2007 Tour de France is Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez of the Agritubel team. The Spaniard who made his Tour debut last year with the French wildcard team suffered a shocking fate in the opening road stage; while returning to the peloton after collecting drinks for his team-mates a car in front of him slammed on its brakes and the 23-year-old had no where to go… he smashed the rear window of the Caisse d’Epargne team car and only just avoided being struck by the car that was following.
“It’s a terrible thing to lose a good rider like him on the first day, but when I see the shock I realize that it could have been a lot worse. The car that was behind him missed hitting him by just 20cm. The team had reason to celebrate at the end of the stage with the fifth place of Romain Feillu. He was happy and surprised to beat sprinters like Bennati, Zabel and Hunter. It’s the first time he’s been in this situation but he wasn’t baulked by the pressure.”
The peloton is at the 1.5km mark. There have been no attacks so far but we can report that Leif Hoste has rejoined the bunch after receiving a new rear wheel following an earlier puncture.
The official start time for stage two is 1.25pm. There are 188 riders still in the race.
Leif Hoste of the Predictor-Lotto team has had a rear tyre puncture in the neutral zone. The flag is about to be dropped to signal the official start.
Vladimir Gusev of the Discovery Channel team continues to lead the youth classification. He was fifth in the prologue and 40th yesterday. His advantage over Thomas Dekker (RAB) is six seconds while Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) is in third at seven seconds.
David Millar (SDV) will wear the polka-dot jersey. This is the only top that the Scot has not worn before during his time on the Tour de France but he has a tally of five points, the same as Stephane Auge (COF) but because of his position in the general classification, Millar has earned the right to wear the spotted top as leader of the climbing classification. In third place is Agritubel’s Freddy Bichot (with three points).
Robbie McEwen (PRL) is back in the familiar color of green for the second stage. The triple winner of the points classification has a tally of 35 points, five more than Hushovd (C.A). IN third place is one of the favorites for today’s stage, Tom Boonen of the Quickstep team who has 26pts.
McEwen was caught up in a crash yesterday and hurt his right hand but his team’s osteopath said that the Australian is coping with his injuries and should once again feature in the finale should today’s stage end with a sprint.
The yellow jersey will once again be worn by Fabian Cancellara. The winner of the prologue was 22nd in the first stage finishing in the same time as Robbie McEwen. The Swiss CSC rider maintained his advantage over Astana’s Andreas Kloden (13”). Thanks to his efforts in the escape of the stage to Canterbury, David Millar (SDV) has moved up the general classification rankings and is now third, 21” behind Cancellara.
There was another change to the top 10 as a result of stage one: Thor Hushovd – who finished second – moved up from 28th overall to 8th thanks to the 12” time bonus he received.
The peloton is currently riding along in the neutral zone. The official start time is expected to be at around 11.25pm.
The course for stage two includes three intermediate sprints. These bonification points offer six, four and two points for the green jersey classification for the first three riders across the line. The sprints today are in Boezinge (at the 45km mark), Westende (at 81.5km) and Aarsele (at 140.5km).
The second stage is a flat affair with no categorized climbs on the ’parcours’. This means that David Millar will attend the podium protocol to collect the polka-dot jersey that he claimed in yesterday’s stage.
The 188 riders remaining in the 2007 Tour de France represent 27 countries.
The breakdown is:
40 – Spain
Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez of the Agritubel team abandoned during stage one after a crash. He ran into the back of the Caisse d’Epargne team car, smashing the rear window and dislocating his shoulder in the process.
36 – France
19 – Germany
18 – Italy
13 – Belgium
7 – The Netherlands
6 – Australia, USA and Russia
5 – Great Britain and Switzerland
4 – Kazakhstan
3 – Austria and Colombia
2 – Belarus, Luxembourg, Norway and Ukraine
1 – South Africa, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Lituania, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden
The second stage of the 2007 Tour de France is scheduled to get underway at 1.10pm. There is a 7.7km neutral zone before the riders reach the site of the official start. That is expected to be at around 1.25pm.
The 168.5km stage from Dunkerque to Gent in Belgium could be a wet affair. There has been a strong wind blowing on the coast in France and dark clouds are hovering over the site of the start. There are also cracks of thunder at the site of the finish and rain has been falling in Gent.
Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.