Monday July 2nd, 2012

Stage 2Visé / Tournai

Start 12h40 GMT 2+

Key moments

video02.07.2012 in 23:00Summary of the race

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Summary of the race

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Stage summary02.07.2012 in 17:52Supermanx Strikes Again

© A.S.O.

Just about every team in the peloton had someone on the front of the peloton at some stage of the final 10km of the 207.5km race from Vise to Tournai but Sky was relatively anonymous in the final rush to the line. Instead it was Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge that had the strength of numbers in the final kilometer. Greg Henderson charged into the front and delivered André Greipel to the 250 meter to go mark and that's when the giant German turned on the turbo... and very nearly claimed...

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video02.07.2012 in 16:00Interview - Stage Winner

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Interview - Stage Winner

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interview02.07.2012 in 19:07Three out of three for Sky

After the prologue in Liège and the finish on the hill in Seraing, Sky Procycling won its third consecutive stage in the team classification. Of course there was the victory by Mark Cavendish but they also had two others in the top 20 even if ‘Cav' had told his support crew he could do the sprint on his own. Bernhard Eisel and Edvald Boasson Hagen were 18th and 19th, respectively. This time, the British team finished ahead of Rabobank and Lotto-Belisol and, for the third straight day,...

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Sporting stakes02.07.2012 in 19:03Are there seconds to be gained?

A sequence of four hills in rapid succession is going to make the stage finish in Boulogne-sur-Mer anything but ordinary. The final 16km appear to be ideal to create a setting for the aggressors of the race to take a chance with a strong and committed effort. Surely an ambitious initiative will yield some dividends but it will be hard for anyone to maintain the necessary speed to hold off all the peloton on their own. And so we should expect a small, strong group to arrive at the finish to...

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interview02.07.2012 in 18:54Sagan: I want to hold on to it...

The winner of stage one wore the green jersey in stage two but he wasn't the leader of the points classification; that was Fabian Cancellara who is also in the lead of the Tour de France. After his sixth in the sprint of stage two, however, Peter Sagan claimed the lead in this category.

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interview02.07.2012 in 18:43Cancellara: I have to stay out of trouble...

According to the leader of the general classification, when there's a slow start to the stage and a relatively easy middle, it creates a formula for a very fast and dangerous finish - Fabian Cancellara explains...

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interview02.07.2012 in 18:30Cavendish: We have one objective

He might have won his 21st Tour de France stage in Tournai but Mark Cavendish was still reminding some reporters of what the next three weeks is all about. «There's not two objectives! There's one objective and that's to win the yellow jersey,» he told Norwegian television. «And I can just try and pick up sprints but there's no pressure on me.» Just the same, many expected him to win... and that's just what he did.

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video02.07.2012 in 11:45Analysis of the stage

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Analysis of the stage

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video02.07.2012 in 10:30The day's route

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The day's route

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Newsflashes

17:40Cancellara 44th - but still in 1st overall...

There were at least 92 men awarded the same time in stage two. In the middle was the yellow jersey of Fabian Cancellara who was 44th today but he will wear the yellow jersey in stage three.

17:39The top five in stage two

The world champion is the fastest in stage two. The top five of the stage from Vise to Tournai is:

1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) SKY 207.5km in 4h56'59"

2. Andre Greipel (GER) LTB

3. Matt Goss (AUS) OGE

4. Tom Veelers (NED) ARG

5. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) LAM

And then comes yesterday's winner Peter Sagan... who is likely to take the green jersey.

17:37Cavendish claims his 21st Tour stage win!

He is the master, can that Cavendish man be beaten!? He has won again - and taken his tally of victories at the Tour to 21. This time, he does so with the rainbow jersey on his shoulders. He beat Greipel and Goss for the win in Tournai.

17:35Cav comes up the right...

Goss is marking the wheel of Cavendish who is right on the wheel of Greipel inside the final kilometer.

17:342km to go

Lotto-Belisol is the team with the most riders at the front. It's time to pick your sprinter but, judging by the weight of numbers, the best for the sprint are Greipel and Petacchi... but now Farrar appears near the head of the bunch.

17:333km to go...

If a rider punctures or crashes now, they'll still be given the same time as the winner as it's inside the final 3km. BMC has, as expected, abandoned the front of the peloton and now Argos-Shimano is back in the lead...

17:315km to go

Burghardt of BMC is now leading the peloton through a roundabout that's just inside the final 5km of the stage. Evans is on his wheel and Hansen (LTB) is following him. Sagan is in seventh place and already appears as though he's ready to sprint.

It's a GC team in charge for a little longer but they'll seen retreat (once safely inside the final 3km) and the lead-out trains will kick into action...

17:29Now Rabobank shows itself...

Rabobank has now sent a number of riders to the front and Renshaw is putting himself into contention for the sprint but it's Lotto-Belisol that has the most riders up front. It has six guys on the far right of the road.

17:26Rogers punctures

Rogers has punctured a tire and is now being serviced by the Sky team car.

17:2510km to go

BMC is in command of the peloton as it passes under the 10km to go banner. It's Schar at the front with Quinziato right on his wheel. And, following the Italian, is last year's Tour winner Cadel Evans.

17:24Here comes Lampre

Tony Martin, Luis Sanchez and a couple of other victims of crashes yesterday have been dropped by the peloton. Lampre is now sending some troops forward for their sprinter, Petacchi, and BMC has a strong presence and is ensuring that Evans is out of harms way.

17:23Kittel dropped...

Marcel Kittel was to be the rider who the Argos-Shimano team was going to lead out but the German has been dropped inside the final 12km of the stage.

17:22Feillu dropped by peloton

Brice Feillu is unable to follow the wheels in the peloton. He has been dropped and is now drifting back through the convoy of team cars.

17:21Escape over

And with that, Roux's efforts amounted to little more than - surely - the Fighting Spirit award. He has been swallowed up by the peloton and Pineau of Omega Pharma is at the front of the bunch.

Roux was caught at the 14km to go mark.

17:16Lead down to 20"

Roux is now actually gripping his handlebars. For most of the day he's been trying to avoid putting pressure on his injured left wrist but now he's in a time trial to keep his team colors on the TV cameras. He started the attack at the 22km mark and inside the final 20km his advantage is just 20".

17:12A serpent with many heads...

Roux is holding off the peloton that now has numerous teams forming separate trains at the front. RadioShack is on the left of the road, beside them are the orange jerseys of the Euskaltel team, to the right of them is Katusha trying to position Oscar Freire for the sprint, and right of them is a gathering of Sky riders... then comes a few Garmins, then Orica riders to the right and on the far side of the road are men from Saur-Sojasun.

There are less than 20km to go in the stage.

17:09Bak punctures

Another flat back tire: this time it's Lars Bak from the Lotto-Belisol team.

17:08Cummings punctures

The fourth rear tire puncture in the last 10 minutes has just been called on Radio Tour. The latest victim is Steve Cummings of the BMC team.

17:05Fofonov punctures...

Two Astana riders have had punctures (rear tire, both times) in the last 5km. The first was Kessiakoff, and now it's Fofonov.

17:0525km to go...

Roux is still on his own at the front of the stage. He has a lead of 50" and is inside the final 25km.

17:01One man ahead of the peloton...

Morkov and Kern have been caught by the peloton. Only Roux remains ahead of the bunch and his advantage is just 45".

17:00Roux leads by 18"

Roux has attacked the lead group and he now leads Kern and Morkov by 18".

16:59Kruiswijk punctures...

A rear wheel is needed for Steven Kruiswijk (RAB) who has recently punctured.

16:58Considering the sprinters...

With the advantage of the leaders down to 2'00", it's fair to say that the expected sprint is going to happen. That's what Lotto-Belisol, Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge have been working for.The focus of their efforts is for Greipel, Kittel and Goss, respectively. But let's consider who the other sprinters in the Tour peloton are... In order of the team list here is a brief overview:

Fabian Cancellara (RNT) - can we could him out of anything?

Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) - it's...

16:39Near Silly: 45km to go...

The leaders are near the town of Silly and they have about 45km to go. Their escape began at the 22km and they reached a maximum advantage of eight minutes. Roux, Kern and Morkov are now 2'50" ahead of the bunch.

The yellow jersey is at the back of the peloton and consulting his team director.

16:34Sagan the virtual leader of the points classification

With his seventh place in Soignies, Sagan has moved into the virtual lead of the points classification. He started the day with 49 points and wears the green jersey but only because Cancellara cannot wear both yellow and green.

16:32Result of intermediate sprint...

Here is the full result of the intermediate sprint for stage two:

1. Kern (EUC) 20pts

2. Roux (FDJ) 17pts

3. Morkov (STB) 15pts

4. Goss (OGE) 13pts - at 2'00"

5. Renshaw (RAB) 11pts

6. Cavendish (SKY) 10pts

7. Sagan (LIQ) 9pts

8. van Hummel (VCD) 8pts

9. Impey (OGE) 7pts

10. Lancaster (OGE) 6pts

11. Boeckmans (VCD) 5pts

12. Cooke (OGE) 4pts

13. Hondo (LAM) 3pts

14. Petacchi (LAM) 2pts

15....

16:27Liquigas leading peloton

Daniel Oss is now ahead of Sagan as the peloton approaches the intermediate sprint. Goss is marking the winner of yesterday's stage...

16:26First three at the intermediate sprint

The result of the first three over the line in Soignies is:

1. Christophe Kern (EUC) 20pts

2. Anthony Roux (FDJ) 17pts

3. Michael Morkov (STB) 15pts

There was no battle for first place, rather they just rolled over the line... and kept on with their escape

16:25Reminder of the points allocation for intermediate sprints...

Since last year, the rules at the Tour have changed so that points for the green jersey go down to 15th place at the intermediate sprints. It once was 6, 4 and 2 for the first three over the line but now the breakdown is as follows:

1st - 20 pts; 2nd - 17pts; 3rd - 15pts; 4th - 13pts; 5th - 11pts; 6th - 10pts; 7th - 9pts; 8th - 8pts; 9th - 7pts; 10th - 6pts; 11th - 5pts; 12th - 4pts; 13th - 3pts; 14th - 2pts and 15th - 1pts.

16:22Changes at the front of the peloton

Liquigas has just turned up at the front of the peloton (on the right of the road). On the left AG2R's chocolate soldiders have appeared. And nestled in between are Katusha, Movistar and Sky riders.

That happened when there was some 'road furniture' in the way (ie. medium strips and traffic lights) but that has been safely negotiated and now Argos is back the front of the bunch.

The peloton is now 5km from the intermediate sprint.

16:183'30" between leaders & peloton...

The leaders are about 5km from the intermediate sprint. They have a lead of 3'30" at the moment.

16:15Three teams doing the work...

In the first year for a while without a Highroad team lead-out train in the Tour, we're getting used to who will take charge of the chasing duties. It took a while for the pecking order to be established as the escapees gained an advantage of eight minutes in a short span of time but there seems to be an accord between the teams of Matt Goss, Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel. Since the chase began only riders from Orica-GreenEdge, Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol have been at the front of the...

16:11Cavendish vs The Germans...

The world champion Mark Cavendish has won seven times in 2012 (two stages of the Tour of Qatar, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, and three stages of the Giro d'Italia).

He crashed on the day that Matt Goss won his stage of the Giro in May, but if we consider which of the riders in the 99th Tour has beaten him in sprints this year, then it's only Greipel and Kittel.

Kittel beat him twice in June at the Ster-ZLM Toer, where Greipel also won a stage....

16:05Down it comes... 4'10"

The latest time check has the peloton 4'10" behind the escapees. Kern is still the virtual leader, after starting the stage ranked 94th, 2'01" behind Cancellara.

So far Morkov has been on the attack for 305km of the 2012 Tour. He was in the escape that was caught 8km from the finish yesterday and today he responded to the counter-attack by Kern at the 22km mark.

15:55Hunter: We??ll definitely be there...

In LeTour.fr's discussion with Robbie Hunter, we asked if we call you a lead-out man, ‘domestique muscle-man' or sprinter. “Tyler [Farrar] has come here in good form and my job here always is to lead him out. If he's not up to it, then I'll be there to see what I can do. I'm pretty sure that there are always opportunities to have a go and somewhere along the line I'll manage to do both: lead him out and maybe get over a climb that he can't and see if I can make the most of the...

15:49Robbie Hunter: We??ve got a good team...

“Every year the Tour grows and it brings more and more South Africans to France to watch the race so I'm happy to be able to ride in the national champion's jersey here for the first time,” said Robbie Hunter of the Garmin-Sharp team a couple of days ago. “Daryl Impey is also racing this year so hopefully it will bring a few more up to watch the race.”
LeTour.fr asked the only South African stage winner at the Tour what we can expect from him and his team in the opening stanza...

15:4240.3km/h for the first three hours...

The average for the third hour of racing is 40.1km/h. The average for the first three hours combined is 40.3km/h.

The peloton continues to be led by riders from the Lotto, Argos and Orica teams: it is 4'35" behind Roux, Morkov and Kern.

15:32King Albert II at the Tour today...

The King of Belgium will be at the finish of the stage today. He has attended the race on several ocassions over the years, including the day that Belgian Marc Wauters won the stage to Antwerp (and took the yellow jersey) in 2001.

The best Belgian on GC after two days of racing in the 2012 Tour is Philippe Gilbert, in seventh place (13" behind Cancellara).

15:29Race in four provinces of Belgium today

Today's stage is the last one of the 2012 Tour to be contested in Belgium. The start was in the Province of Liege. It went to the Province of Namur and the peloton is currently in the Province of Hainaut. Soon the race will arrive in Brabant Wallon before returning to Hainaut for the finish.

15:26Weylandts was a winner in Tournai

Today is going to be a day when a fallen comrade of the peloton, Wouter Weylandts will be in the minds of many riders. The Belgian who died after crashing the Giro d'Italia last year won his last race in Tournai on 3 October 2010.

Weylandt's victory was in the fourth stage of the  Circuit Franco-Belge. He beat Geert Steegmans and Bert De Backer in a sprint of a 164km race from Mons.

15:23The advantage continues to fall...

There's not a lot of urgency in the chase but, slowly and surely, the leaders are coming back. Lotto, Orica and Argos continue to share the workload and the peloton is 5'15" behind Roux, Morkov and Kern at the 105km mark.

15:08Roelandts turns 27 today...

Jurgen Roelandts is one of the Lotto-Belisol riders who has been involved in the pace setting of the peloton. He is a key member of the lead-out for Andre Greipel - one of the favorites if today ends in a sprint finish. The Belgian crashed in his second race of the 2012 season (stage one of the Tour Down Under in January) and fractured a bone in his neck. Clearly he has recovered from his injuries...

He turns 27 today. Happy birthday Jurgen.

15:02Leaders in the feedzone

Roux, Morkov and Kern are in the feedzone in Temploux (at the 94.5km mark).

15:01Lead drops below six minutes...

Although Roux (FDJ), Kern (EUC) and Morkov (STB) gained their advantage quickly the prediction of a bunch sprint for the finish is looking likely to happen... even if it's a long way yet to Tournai. The peloton is led by Voigt (RNT) and it is now 5'45" behind the trio who escaped at 22km. The finish is 112km.

14:49Koen de Kort explains how Argos will approach the sprint

LeTour.fr asked Koen de Kort if he could explain the order of the lead-out from Argos-Shimano. “We have four Dutch riders leading out the German. We have Albert Timmer who is the first to go for the train – until he starts, then other guys are just trying to keep us out of the wind. By the time we get towards the line, about 5km to go, then Timmer is there to start the lead-out or get us to the front. When he peels off, there's hopefully about two kilometers to go and that's when Roy...

14:48Peloton at the top...

The climb in Namur is a steep and cobbled one but it hasn't caused any splits in the bunch which is snaking its way to the top 6'20" behind the three escapees.

The sun is shining and three riders from the Lotto-Belisol are at the front of the bunch while the injured Luis Sanchez (RAB) is at the back.

14:45Peloton on the climb

Lotto-Belisol riders are at the front of the bunch as it makes its way to the citadel in Namur. The peloton is 6'15" behind Morkov, Roux and Kern.

14:44Morkov retains polka-dot jersey...

With only one point on offer today, the lead of the climbing classification was not going to change in stage two. Morkov will attend the podium protocol for the second day in a row to get the polka-dot jersey.

14:43Result of Namur climb

The peloton is 6'15" behind the three escapees who have reached the top of the only climb today. Morkov led Kern and Roux up the final 500 meters and Kern marked him closely. The one point for the category-four climb was won by Morkov and Kern didn't really challenge him at the top.

Roux rode all of the cobbled climb with his left hand off the handlebars after hurting it in a crash yesterday.

14:40Cobbled roads on the climb

Roux was in a crash yesterday and, clearly, his left wrist is hurting. He's at the front and riding one-handed as he begins the ascent to the citadel. The bumps from the rough surface must be causing pain but he's not renegging any of the workload.

14:40Pace picks up...

The average for the second hour in stage two is 42.1km/h. The average for the first two hours combined is 40.1km/h.

14:38Leaders in Namur

The escapees have just reached Namur and they'll soon start the only climb of the stage. It's a 2.1km long hill leading to the citadel overlooking the capital of the Wallonie region. The average gradient is 4.5 per cent. Kern is leading Morkov on the early slopes and they are followed by Roux.

14:37Cavendish calls team car...

Cavendish is about to stop on the right of the road to get a new bike. He has had a quick service and is clicked in to the pedals and racing again.

14:34Koen de Kort: We??ve got to win a stage...

LeTour.fr spoke with Koen de Kort who has been a member of the ...-Shimano team both times it has started the Tour (ie. Skil-Shimano in 2009, and Argos-Shimano in 2012). “It's different this time around,” said the Dutchman. “The first time it feels like a bit of an adventure. You want to it as a bike rider and I've done it once and I'm still as excited but it's different now because we're really focused towards goals and actual results more than just seeing what it's going to be...

14:24Sprint teams lift the pace...

There are now a number of teams near the front of the peloton and the pace of the bunch has picked up significantly with riders from Lotto-Belisol, Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge all swapping off at the front. They have reduced the advantage of the escape that is now 6'50" ahead (at 61km).

14:22Vaughters: Hunter will be there to help Farrar

So, if you expect a sprint Mr Vaughters, can you tell us how Tyler Farrar is faring? “Ah, we'll see later today. It'll be his first real test,” said the manager of the Garmin-Sharp team. “It took him a while to get going again after the crash in the Giro this May but he's fine now and has recovered from the injuries.”
And can he explain the sequence for the lead-out from the Garmin-Sharp team? “Well, you know... we're going to be freelancing a little bit and looking at what...

14:15Vaughters: It'll end up being a field sprint...

LeTour.fr recently called the manager of the Garmin-Sharp team, Jonathan Vaughters, and asked if he could give a quick appraisal of what was going to happen today. “Oh, I think this is a pretty lock, stock and barrel flat stage of the Tour de France. There's not a whole lot of wind and it's a nice sunny day so eventually we'll see these guys [Roux, Morkov and Kern] brought back but it might take a little longer than people are thinking but I can't imagine them staying away.
“There...

14:097'40" at 52km

The maximum gain of Roux, Morkov and Kern was 8'00" at 42km. There are now two RadioShackers at the front of the bunch that is at the 52km mark. They are 7'40" behind the leading trio.

14:01Who's there to help 'Cav' today...? Eisel explains

LeTour.fr asked Bernhard Eisel the obvious question this moring: how is Cav going? “Oh, he's ready,” said the lead-out maestro at Sky. We asked if it would just be him working for Cav while the others look after Bradley Wiggins, but Eisel explained that they have options. “There are others in the team who can be there for him. ‘Costa' [Sivtsov] used to be in the lead-out train in the years before now. He's absolutely amazing. And Michael [Rogers] has done this sort of thing before...

13:58Eisel wary of Bozic... a sprinter who could surprise today

LeTour.fr spoke with Sky's Bernhard Eisel earlier today to find out what we can expect from his mate Mark Cavendish on a day when a sprint beckons. “Oh, we've prepared well for this whole Tour,” said the Austrian who, like Cavendish, joined Team Sky at the start of the 2012 season. “Everybody is ready. The team is strong and while we've got a great sprinter, the most important thing is that Brad doesn't lose any time.
“We had a bit of bad luck yesterday and, as we saw,...

13:54Alessandro Petacchi: I intend to hit it hard

At the start of the stage the Young Reporters of the Tour asked the winner of the the green jersey in 2010 for his impressions: "Today there is no wind, the weather is dry, we'll have a good time,” said Alessandro Petacchi (LAM).
“In the final stretch, I'll watch the teams Lotto-Belisol and Orica-GreenEdge. And, of course, I'll try to stay ahead. I plan to hit it hard in the final.”

13:45Will Tom Kern be watching...?

Two hours before he was due to appear on the podium in Liege as part of the Tour's team presentation, Christophe Kern was in a hospital watching as his life's direction was about to change. His first baby, Tom, was born on 28 June... and on 2 July, Christophe is on the attack.

Do you remember the victory salute of Neil Stephens when he won the stage to Colmar in 1997? He had recently become a father for the first time and, as he crossed the line, he gestured that he was rocking his...

13:40Lead up to 5'40"

After an hour of racing, the three escapees have built a lead of 5'40" on the peloton.

13:39Average speed: 38.2km/h

The three leaders have covered 38.2km in the opening hour of racing in stage two. They are over four minutes ahead of the peloton after starting their attack at the 22km mark.

13:38No former stage winner in escape

Of the three men in the lead of stage two, none have previously won a stage of the Tour de France. This is Kern's fourth participation, and Roux's second start. Morkov made his Tour debut on Saturday and already he's got a prize jersey on his shoulders as the leader of the climbing classification.

13:33Lead up to 3'05" - Kern the virtual leader

At the 28km mark, the peloton was 3'05" behind the three escapees. The best on GC at the start of the stage was Christophe Kern (EUC) who was ranked 94th overall after 204.4km of racing, 1'57" behind Cancellara. That means the Frenchman is the virtual leader of the Tour.

Morkov spent a stint yesterday as the virtual leader and the rider who wears the polka-dot jersey is the next best on GC of the trio at the front of the stage. He is 164th overall, 4'05" behind Cancellara. Roux - who...

13:27Three in the lead

At the 28km mark, Morkov and Kern have caught up with Roux. There are now three men with an advantage of over two minutes on the peloton.

13:25Roux leads by 18"

Morkov is the rider in the polka-dot jersey. He was part of the six-man escape group yesterday and he's now closing in on the stage leader, Roux (FDJ) but the rider at the front isn't hanging around and waiting for the two chasers... who are 18" behind.

Kern (EUC) is the other rider trying to bridge to the leader. He became a father on the day of the team presentation.

The peloton is 2'15" behind the stage leader at the 26km mark.

13:22Peloton at 1'05"

Roux's advantage on the peloton is now up to 1'05". There's been little reaction to the escape bid by the three men who instigated their attack at the 22km mark.

13:21Roux leads two by 10"

Morkov (STB) and Kern (EUS) are closing in on the stage leader who is now just 10" ahead of the counter-attack.

13:20Roux goes on the attack

At the 22km mark, there's been a hint of aggression. It was a rider from FDJ who decided it was time to get things moving. It's Anthony Roux, one of the riders who fell yesterday. He's being pursued by two: Christophe Kern (EUC) and Morkov (STB). The peloton is behind by 35".

13:16Valverde: I thought of attacking...

Alejandro Valverde is one rider who was expected to be in contention for the stage win yesterday. He's back in the Tour again after a three-year hiatus and he finished sixth in Seraing and did so after being held up by a crash. “After three years without riding the Tour, I barely remembered how dangerous it is during the first week,” said Valverde. “We rode at the front for almost all day, but we suffered a couple of crashes in the finale and we had to put a feet a feet on the ground...

13:1217km: all still together

There hasn't been much interest in an early attack today. The bunch is still all together and it has just reached the 17km mark. This is five minutes behind the slowest schedule offered by the itinerary...

Just now we've heard a call on Radio Tour for the Team Sky to come and see Mark Cavendish at the back of the peloton but we don't know the reason for this consultation.

13:09Comments from defending champion

Last year, the lowest Cadel Evans (BMC) was on general classification for the entire three weeks was fourth. After two days of the 99th Tour, the Australian is ranked 8th. "Marcus [Burghardt] took me along on the last flat section," Evans explained yesterday afternoon.

"We were doing 74 kilometers an hour just to move up on the flat...

"The team is working well and functioning well and I'm glad to get one road stage done and the routine going."

13:02Cantwell, the last lead-out for JJ Haedo

“I know the finish of today's stage well,” said Nick Gates of the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team this morning. The Australian directeur sportif lived in Belgium for many years while racing as a pro. He is now in the team car calling the shots for the team that boasts two fast sprint specialists: JJ Haedo and Jonathan Cantwell who also makes his debut in the Tour – as a 30-year-old – this year. “It's going to be windy in the final 50km,” said Gates. “At least that's what it's...

13:01Tranquil pace early today

LeTour.fr has just spoken with the race's technical director who has confirmed that the start of the second stage has begun without much aggression. The riders appear content to be cruising along early in the 207.5km race from Visé to Tournai.

13:00Nick Gates (STB) ?? ??We??ll ride for JJ today...?

“We'll ride for JJ today,” said Nick Gates of the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team when he spoke with LeTour.fr before the start of the second stage. He was, of course, talking about Juan José Haedo – the Argentinian sprinter who is making his debut in the Tour this year. He won a stage of the Vuelta a España last year and has been in the top 10 of several stages at the Giro d'Italia but today will be the first time he gets to see how he can cope with a Tour sprint.
“He's going...

12:58No successful attacks yet...

The peloton is still all together early today. Roughly 10km have been raced but no one has yet been able to establish an escape group.

12:55Report on the injured riders...

Six riders sustained minor injuries in crashes yesterday but all 198 men are still in the race. Here is a brief overview of who fell and where:

- Robert Hunter (GRM) and Tony Martin (OPQ) crashed at the 10km mark. The South African lost some skin on his left thigh and the German lost skin on his left arm and has bruising on his left wrist.

- Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Anthony Roux (FDJ) crashed at the 22km mark. Pinot has pain his left wrist and left thigh.

- Luis Leon...

12:47All together at the 3km mark...

Only three kilometers have been raced so far in stage two and the bunch is still all together. The signal from Radio Tour is coming in loud and clear so we will be sure to relay all the information offered by the dulcet tones of Sebastien Piquet, the voice of the race.

12:43Racing in stage two

The official start of the second stage was 12.38pm. There are 198 riders still in the race. We await a clear signal from Radio Tour before we can provide the details of who is attacking and when but this will kick into action any minute now.

LeTour.fr has just spoken with Jean-François Pescheux who is in the car with the chief commissaire and he's explained that there has not been an early attack as was the case in stage one yesterday.

12:40Prize classification review: part 04 ?? white jersey

Last year Tejay van Garderen (BMC) made his Tour debut and he led the climbing classification for a day. This year, the 23-year-old has been recuited by BMC to assist the defending champion Cadel Evans and it's clear that the American is in the right sort of form to be a true asset.
Van Garderen was fourth in the prologue and 21st in the first stage. He is still just one second ahead of yesterday's third-place finisher Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) in the youth classification and, thus,...

12:35Prize classification review: part 03 ?? polka-dot jersey

With five categorized hills in stage one, we now have a leader of the climbing classification. Michael Morkov (STB) had targeted the opening road stage as one in which he could make an impact and although he joked at the finish that he's not at all a climber, he's thrilled to be wearing the polka-dot jersey in his first Tour de France. He has three points, two more than yesterday's stage winner Peter Sagan (LIQ) and fellow escapee of the race to Seraing, Pablo Urtasun (EUS).
There is...

12:32Prize classification review: part 02 ?? green jersey

Peter Sagan started his first Tour de France on Saturday. He won his first stage on Sunday. And on Monday he will wear the green jersey that he's a favorite to win in his debut appearance. The points classification is still led by Cancellara (RNT) with 55 points but as he's in the yellow jersey, the ‘maillot vert' is worn by the next-best rider in that ranking: Sagan who has 49 points.
Boasson Hagen (SKY) is ranked third with 42 points while the winner of the opening stage in 2011,...

12:29Prize classification review: part 01 ?? yellow jersey

Fabian Cancellara will wear the yellow jersey for the second successive day in the 99th Tour. This will be his 23rd day in the lead of the Tour de France. He was first in the prologue and second in stage one. His lead over Bradley Wiggins (who was 16th in Seraing) is still seven seconds. In third place overall is the French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel, also seven seconds behind the Swiss star from RadioShack-Nissan. The next best in the general classification are the leaders of the...

12:25Welcome to the live coverage or stage three of Le Tour 2012

The conditions for the second road stage of the 99th Tour de France are mild with temperatures in the low 20s (Celsius). The wind is already relatively strong and it's expected to get stronger for what is the final day the 2012 race is contested in Belgium. The 207.5km stage from Visé to Tournai is due to start at 12.35pm with a short neutral zone (2km) and racing is expected to begin at around 12.40pm.

There is just one hill on the course for today's stage, a category-four ascent at...

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