German neo pro John Degenkolb, 22, rode at perfection to win stage 2 in Lyon at the top of the côte de la Croix-Rousse. Thomas Voeckler and Samuel Dumoulin, the two Frenchmen tipped for the victory met the expectations but were outsprinted by the young phenomenon from HTC-Highroad who claimed his fifth victory of the year after stage 2 of the Tour of Algarve, stage 1 of the Three Days of West Flanders, the GP Frankfurt and stage 2 of the Tour of Bayern. This is his first one at World Tour level. Alexandre Vinokourov stayed out of danger in the thrilling finale and kept the yellow jersey.
Start proper given at 12.44 to 175 starters under rainy conditions in Voiron.
Climbs of the day:
- km 21: côte de Miribel-Les Echelles, cat. 4 (4.4km at 4.3%)
- km 91: côte du château de Saint-Julien, cat. 4 (2.8km at 5%)
- km 134.5: côte de Pérouges, cat. 4 (1.6km at 4.4%)
- km 179: côte de la Croix-Rousse, cat. 4 (1.4km at 4.8%)
Three men away after 10km
After an unsuccessful try by Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Jurgen Van de Walle (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Brice Feillu (Leopard-Trek) and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) initiated a breakaway after ten kilometres of racing. The leading trio reached an advantage of 4.45 at km 46. The Astana team of race leader Alexandre Vinokourov kept the race under control until other squads came in help within 60 kilometres to go. FDJ showed their intention of racing the whole Dauphiné at the service of their young captain Thibaut Pinot, 21.
Cofidis and Garmin-Cervélo in the chase
The rhythm of the peloton sped up when the Cofidis team entered in action with less than 30km before the finish in Lyon. Garmin-Cervélo also worked for a bunch sprint finish and the peloton was divided in two parts with 20km to go due to cross winds. Among the riders off the back were Bradley Wiggins, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC).
Wiggins and Evans correct their mistake
Tjallingii was the last of the breakaway riders to get caught with 14 kilometres to go. With 8km to go, the group of Wiggins and Evans made the junction with the peloton of the yellow jersey. Boasson Hagen didn’t because of a mechanical and finished 4.30 behind, while Pinot was the other young victim of the battle in the crosswinds. The Frenchman finished 5.50 behind.
Degenkolb outsprints the Frenchmen
Overall classification runner up Jurgen Van den Broeck had a flat tyre within the last three kilometres, close enough to the finishing line for being awarded the time of the stage winner. Marco Bandiera (Quick Step) was the first man in action in the final uphill. As expected and announced by themselves, Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) took over, but John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) found the best position to deliver the winning sprint ahead of Dumoulin and Sébastien Hinault (Ag2r-La Mondiale). Crossing the line in fifth position, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) became the new leader of the points classification while Van den Broeck kept the polka dot jersey and Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil) took the white jersey due to the incidents experienced by Boasson Hagen and Pinot.
“These past few weeks, I felt very good, so I convinced my team to line me up at the Dauphiné. Now I wear the white jersey after having two very good days. I regret to have lost around about ten seconds in the prologue; I didn’t crash but almost. I had to stop and re-start. As far as the French Alps are concerned, I rode the junior Classique des Alpes and I finished 11th but I knew nothing about tactics at the time. Now I can ride better but I’m not too scared by the uphill finishes of the end of the week. But I don’t know what to expect tomorrow, even though I like time trials. I’ll have to see day after day how far I can go.”
“In the finale, we rode flat out to try and distance our adversaries. When I saw that Evans and Wiggins were off the back, we gave everything we had as a team, but not many teams participated. Astana rode well and we’ve tried a big coup. I keep the yellow jersey, it means it’s a good day for us. Tomorrow’s time trial is important. It’ll be a serious test for me. I’ll see if my legs can handle the effort. I’ll be the last starter with the yellow jersey. I think I can ride a good time trial, we’ll see tomorrow.”
“I knew that today’s finish was a hard one, so I’ve stayed at the front as much as I could. My team led me out at perfection and I’ve tried to sprint. But the very end of the stage didn’t suit my characteristics. Yet I prove with this fifth place that I’m here with good form. I’m in my form of the Giro. Consistency gives me the green jersey today but this isn’t my goal. I might lose quite a lot of time during the time trial tomorrow but I’ll do it at the maximum of my capacities because it’s a test for me and I want to deliver a good final GC result here. However, my main goal remains to win a stage, and if I keep riding like this at the end of every stage, I might win the points classification, but I insist: this is not my priority.”
“When I had my flat tyre, I knew it was within three kilometers to go but as it was an uphill finish, I didn’t if the rule of the three kilometers would apply, so I panicked and it’s only once I crossed the line that I got to know I was safe. I’m still second and I still wear the polka dot jersey. I’m still looking for the best rhythm in the race. I yet don’t have in my legs the speed I’d like to have but it’s coming. Only at the Tour de France, it has to be good. We’ll see tomorrow how I can time trial. I have no idea of what I can achieve. I hope to not lose too much time.”
“I’m a neo pro but I knew enough of my adversaries when I approached the final climb. I saw the three Cofidis guys preparing the sprint for Dumoulin and I also expected Voeckler to move. He’s very strong in a finish like that. But I had the best position at the last corner, I was third and I could go the shortest way. It was a very good stage for me. When we looked at the race route, this day was pointed out for me. This is my first World Tour win. I’m absolutely happy. I’ve had a super start of my first pro season but I won’t ride the Tour de France this year. Maybe next year or the year after…”
1. John Degenkolb
2. Samuel Dumoulin
3. Sébastien Hinault
4. Paul Martens
5. Joaquim Rodriguez
John Degenkolb (HTC) wins ahead of Dumoulin and Hinault.
As planned, Voeckler is the first in action in the final climb.
Van den Broeck has a flat tyre in the last three kilometres.
Boasson Hagen remains off the back after his mechanical.