Fabian Cancellara wins second stage
The peloton rolls past in a rainbow of colours
Yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara surprised everybody by launching away from the pack inside the final 800 metres to claim his second stage win in this year’s Tour.
The cobbled streets of Compiègne were the setting for a thrilling end to the Tour’s longest stage. An early breakaway by Matthieu Ladagnous and Nicolas Vogondy was joined later by Stephane Augé and Frederik Willems. The quartet held of the peloton for most of the day, and with just 2km to the finish it seemed the chasers had left pulling back the gap too late.
Safely negotiating several tricky corners, the peloton was in sight of the breakaway riders inside the final kilometre. What came next was the most unexpected move of the Tour so far. Fabian Cancellara, prologue winner and world time-trial champion, jumped away from the rapidly closing peloton, rode past the four breakaway riders and held off a last minute charge by Milram’s Eric Zabel to take his second win in the race.
It’s rare to see the Yellow Jersey, if a ‘non-sprinter’, contend a bunch stage finish against the sprinters and their lead-out men, but they were clearly caught out by the amazing move by Cancellara who seized his opportunity and won with panache.
“It was absolutely fantastic to win in the yellow jersey. I was afraid I’d loose it during those final 30 kilometres and now in stead I’m standing here with a victory, which I’ll remember for a very long time,” said an excited Cancellara.
Boonen seemed unfazed by being trumped by a non-sprinter, preferring instead to concentrate on covering the rivals for his Green Jersey. “It was hectic with the cobbles and the corners, and the breakaway, we caught them too late. For me I had to do it by myself in the last kilometre. He [Cancellara] took off very strong but at the moment I was already on Robbie [McEwen’s] wheel, I was riding my own race, protecting the green jersey. ”
Experienced sprinter Eric Zabel almost had the better of Cancellara but left his response too late crossing the late an agonising centimetre or too behind. “If the rider with the yellow jersey gives us the gap necessary to win on the cobblestones one must honour this without envy,” Zabel commented. “But the second place isn’t too bad for an old man. What matters is to be present and to try it. Sometimes the legs are super, sometimes they are not so good.”
Earlier in the stage Gert Steegmans fell from grace, colliding with another rider and a narrow bridge earlier in the stage.