Monday July 2nd, 2012

Stage 2Visé / Tournai

Start 12h40 GMT 2+

Supermanx Strikes Again

Stage summary02.07.2012Stage 2- Visé / Tournai

© 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 his second Tour stage win. But behind him was Mr Mark Cavendish who judged the sprint to perfection and did what he does so well: win!
That's 21 stage wins in six years for the reigning world champion and, like he did in 2009, he got the Tour off to the perfect start

The progress report
The 207.5km second stage of the 2012 Tour de France, from Visé to Tournai, began at 12.38pm with 198 riders at the sign on. None of them, however, were too interested in attacking early and it was a slow start to the race. The only hill of the day was at the citadel in Namur at the 82.5km mark. The intermediate sprint was in Soignies at the 153km mark. It wasn't until the 22nd kilometer that an escape bid was launched and it came from Roux (FDJ). He was chased by two men: the rider in the polka-dot jersey Morkov (STB) and the rider who missed the team presentation because his baby was born two hours earlier, Kern (EUC). At 28km, there were three in the lead and the peloton was behind by 2'15” and obviously content with the selection. Kern was the best on GC before the stage, ranked 94th overall 2'01” behind Cancellara. At the 29km mark, the three were 3'40” ahead of the bunch. The average speed was 38.2km/h for the first hour. By 42km, the advantage was 8'00”. That was the maximum gain of the break.

Sprint teams accept their responsibility
After 45km of racing Lotto-Belisol, Orica-GreenEdge and Argos-Shimano sent one rider each to the front of the bunch to swap off and limit the gains of the escapees. The average speed for the second hour was 42.1km/h. On the cobbled climb, Roux rode all the way to the top with his left hand dangling beside the handlebars (after injuring it in a crash yesterday). Morkov took the point at the citadel in Namur and wasn't challenged. Lotto-Belisol had three riders at the front of the bunch that crested the hill 6'10” behind the three escapees.
Only Lotto, Orica and Argos had riders on the front of the peloton and, with the leaders 5km from the intermediate sprint, their advantage was down to 3'30”.

Going for intermediate sprint points
Kern led the escape over the intermediate sprint line and collected 20 points. Meanwhile, behind, Liquigas interrupted the order at the front of the peloton in the final kilometer leading to the intermediate sprint but it was Orica-GreenEdge's Matt Goss who led the peloton over the line in Soignies two minutes after the escapees. Then there was an easing of pace and, at 167km, the advantage had grown to 2'20”.
Roux attacked his escape companions with 31km to go and, soon afterwards, both Morkov and Kern were caught by the peloton; by then, the FDJ rider's advantage was just 45”. He insisted with his effort and was eventually awarded the ‘Fighting Spirit' award for his effort but he was caught 14km from the line.

Cavendish comes from behind to win his 21st stage!
The head of the peloton featured numerous team colors from 25km to 15km to go with RadioShack, Sky, Orica, Liquigas and Omega Pharma... but once Roux was reeled in, it was Orica-GreenEdge that had the most riders at the front. With 12km to go, Kittel was dropped and Argos quickly retreated from the front of the peloton. Martin (OPQ) and Sanchez (RAB) were also dropped 10km from the line. Rabobank and Lampre moved to the front of the bunch with 8km to go. Ultimately, however, it was Lotto-Belisol that dominated the lead-out. Greg Henderson led the peloton from under the ‘flamme rouge' and sprinted ahead, giving the perfect lead-out for Greipel but the German – who was perfectly positioned – could do nothing to hold off the master of the bunch sprint Mark Cavendish who beat the German by about half a wheel.
Sagan (LIQ) was sixth in the sprint and is now in the lead of the points classification.
Fabian Cancellara finish 44th, in the same group as the winner: he will wear the yellow jersey in stage three.

Stage 2 Visé / Visé

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 20

Classifications after the stage 20

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