Â© A.S.O. / B. Bade
Despite his rivals knowing all too well his capability of creating a significant gap on this type of race, Jens Voigt managed to put in a decisive attack after the first 20 kms of the race. In the company of Gerrans (C.A), Casar (FDJ) and Santambrogio (LAM), the defending race champion maintained a sufficient pace throughout the stage to stave of the main field. In the final 20 kilometres, it was with Simon Gerrans that the German pursued his mission. The Australian was rewarded for his effort with the stage win, while Voigt took the yellow jersey from Laurens Ten Dam and will have a comfortable 1â€™14â€ť lead in the overall standings from the Dutchman heading into this afternoonâ€™s time trial in Chareville-MĂ©ziĂ¨res.
Living up to his reputation, ClemĂ¨nt LhĂ´tellerie (FRA-SKS) took the initiative in the first kilometres of the race. He put in repeated attacks on the first two climbs of the day with Duque (COL-COF) and Tschopp (SWI-BTL) and with the group including Franck Schleck (LUX-CSC), which were systematically covered.
Voigt in the right breakaway
Then a group of four riders; Jens Voigt (GER-CSC), Sandy Casar (FRA-FDJ) Simon Gerrans (AUS-C.A.) and Mauro Santambrogio (ITA- LAM) took over at km20 and began to build a lead. As they made their way over the cĂ´te de Blossette, their lead stood at 1â€™45â€ť over a group of 50 riders. The string of difficulties, and an acceleration from the Caisse dâ€™Epargne team resulted in a number of riders dropping off the back.
A halt to the action
The four leaders had their breakaway interrupted by a demonstration that temporarily stopped the race at km 48. The four leaders had to wait some 40 minutes before they could re-start the race where they increased their pre-demonstration lead of 1â€™55 to a maximum of 2â€™20â€ť at the summit of the CĂ´te de Mellier-Fontaine, (km 56.5), then the CĂ´te du Bois de lâ€™Or (km61).
Mission accomplished for Voigt
Employing a strategy with the overall lead in mind, the CĂ´te du Mont MalgrĂ© Tout provided Voigt the opportunity to stamp his authority. Casar was the first to fall back, then Santambrogio. At the summit, the defending race champion only had Gerrans at his side. The duo, which never came under threat from a counter-attack had 2â€™20â€ť in hand at the base of the stageâ€™s final difficulty at 3.5 kms from the finish. They continued to ride in unison on the CĂ´te de la Roche aux 7 Villages. At the arrival, Gerrans left Voigt in the final 300 metres, but for the German rider it was already mission accomplished as he took the yellow jersey. In the main field, which crossed the line with a 1â€™30 deficit, no one looks likely to pose a threat to Voigt in his quest for a fourth title.
Â© A.S.O. / B. Bade
â€śThis stage was my only objective in taking part in the Criterium International. I am not a strong enough rider to hope for much success in the time trial, so this is the one I had to win. After the interruption of the race it was hard to re-start because we had cooled off, but we immediately began to ride sufficiently quick enough. To hope of making it to the end, I had to get on with it straight away and thatâ€™s what we did. That is how we managed to maintain our lead to the end.â€ť
1. Simon Gerrans
2. Jens Voigt
3. Alejandro Valverde
4. Damiano Cunego
5. JĂ©rome Pineau
Simon Gerrans (AUS - C.A) has won stage two from Jens Voigt(GER-CSC)with an acceleration in the final 300 metres.
The leaders have passed the 1km banner with a 2’00" advantage from the main field as rain begins to fall over the course.
Jens Voigt and Simon Gerrans are 2’10" ahead of the main field with less than 2kms to go.
3kms are all that stand in the way of race leaders Simon Gerrans and Jens Voigt from taking the stage win as they start the final climb with an advantage of 2’20" from the main field.