A pile-up just two kilometres from the finish line, which held up all but a handful of riders, couldn’t prevent Tom Boonen’s lead-out man Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) from snatching this second stage of the 2007 Tour de France in Ghent.
In a thrilling finale to today’s rain-lashed stage, Steegmans appeared to tow Boonen to the line – as he has so often done – but then stay ahead of him to take the stage win, with Boonen literally at his elbow making a Quick Step one-two.
Sprint competition leader going into the stage, Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) could not match the combined pace of Steegmans and Boonen on the slight incline of the finish. Boonen now wears the green jersey of the points leader.
Britain’s sprint hope, Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile) again suffered a crash, falling heavily and gashing his arm and leg. He had previously seen his hopes of a win in Canterbury on yesterday’s first stage ruined by a crash. An eventful, if unwelcome, start for Cavendish in his first Tour.
Despite also being held up by the crash, Fabian Cancellara (CSC) retained the race lead and goes into tomorrow’s third stage from Waragem to Compiegne wearing the yellow jersey.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2007: STAGE TWO RESULTS
1 STEEGMANS Gert (Quick Step)
2 BOONEN Tom (Quick Step)
3 POZZATO Filippo (Liquigas)
4 HUNTER Robert (Barloworld)
5 FEILLU Romain (Agritubel)
6 MCEWEN Robbie (Predictor-Lotto)
7 ZABEL Erik (Milram)
8 HAUSSLER Heinrich (Gerolsteiner)
9 FREIRE Oscar (Rabobank)
10 CHAVANEL Sebastien (FDJeux)
91 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
119 WEGELIUS Charly (Liquigas)
161 WIGGINS Bradley (Cofidis)
166 CAVENDISH Mark (T-Mobile)
185 THOMAS Geraint (Barloworld)
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO
1 CANCELLARA Fabian (CSC) in 8-36-13
2 KLODEN Andreas (Astana) at 13secs
3 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval) at 21secs
4 HINCAPIE George (Discovery Channel) at 23secs
5 WIGGINS Bradley (Cofidis) at 23secs
6 GUSEV Vladimir (Discovery Channel) at 25secs
7 BOONEN Tom (Quick Step) at 26secs
8 KARPETS Vladimir (Caisse d’Epargne) at 26secs
9 HUSHOVD Thor (Credit Agricole) at 29secs
10 VINOKOUROV Alexandre (Astana) at 30secs
45 THOMAS Geraint (Barloworld) at 47sec
91 WEGELIUS Charly (Liquigas) at 56sec
185 CAVENDISH Mark (T-Mobile) at 3-37
1 BOONEN Tom (Quick Step)
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
1 MILLAR David (Saunier Duval-Prodir)