Chavanel’s escape to victory!!
The 2nd Stage of the TdF was from Brussels to Spa and once again the people of Belgium showed why they are such a keen cycling nation by turning up in huge numbers to cheer the riders onwards. So much so that at several points there was hardly any space for the cyclists to race!!
Brussels with a population of around 150,000 people is not only the capital city of Belgium but also the capital of the European Union. As a partner town of TdF, it has a preferred status as it’s the 12th time that the tour is visiting the city, the most outside France. The “European district” is home to all the European institutions and the main EU buildings with the most well known being the European Parliament, known as the “Caprice des Dieux” by locals due to its oval shape, reminiscent of the packaging of Caprice des Dieux cheese. The city also boasts of the highest number of diplomats and journalists in the world, 1,400 international organisations and NGOs as well as 2,000 foreign companies.
The 2nd stage of the tour started out of Brussels city with 194 riders, Adam Hansen of HTC Columbia being ruled out with a broken collar bone, and within 10km of the racing Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step broke away from the peleton. Soon a breakaway of 7 riders with Jerome Pineau of Quick Step along with Matthew Lloyd of Omega Pharma Lotto (OLO) joined Chavanel. The breakaway was allowed to go untroubled by the peleton as none of the GC riders where in the same & with the first signs of mountains coming up with some cobbled pathways – the effort was on by all teams to shield their GC rider right at the front.
With the race having gone over 140 km without any incident there was a sense of impending fatality in the peleton and the nervous energy of the riders was clearly seen in the jousting for a place in the front of the peleton. In the mean time the breakaway where having small bursts of sprints for the green jersey points as well as polka dotted – climber’s jersey, which Jerome Pineau collected for his team.
Around the 144km mark – the first casualty of the stage happened when Vladimir Karpets of the Katusha team & Mickael Delage (OLO) crashed with Delage having to drop out of the race itself.
After the first three of the total six climbs where done was when the carnage began. Franseco Gavazzi of Lampre who was in the 8 men breakaway group found himself dropped and in trying to return to the group crashed. The motorbike rider with a TV cameraman following him could not avoid Gavazzi & they too crashed. Within a minute the lead group of the peleton came up & while they tried to avoid the fallen bike & the riders many could not. Those who scraped the road included Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Christian Vande Velde, Tyler Farrer and a few others.
With this the peleton got split into 4-5 groups, with Cancellara, Hushovd, Kloden all in the unharmed group. Team RadioShack rallied around Armstrong, but Contador could only find one of his teammates to support him. They formed the second group and soon caught up with Cancellara’s group. But the grit & determination of the Schleck brothers was there for all to see as Andy grabbed his teammate’s bike & soon they also rode themselves into the peleton before the final finish.
In the front Chavanel attacked relentlessly and in each burst managed to drop of one of the remaining 6 riders and with the last 25km coming up was able to solo it into the town of Spa as the winner of the Stage 2 of TdF 2010. Ironically, this was the same route where he had crashed in the beginning of the year while participating in the Leige-Bastogne-Leige and cracked his skull!! The solo effort also made Chavanel the Yellow Jersey winner as he clocked a time of 3min 56sec on the peleton.
As the injured riders & the rest climbed into the town of Spa, Cancellara was seen talking to the Race Director in his car & then as a group the whole peleton came to a gentleman’s agreement on not to race for the stage, a remarkable event which showed the respect that Fabian Cancellara holds in the cycling community as he was sacrificing his own Yellow jersey for the cause of his team as well as the GC riders who all had taken a spill due to the accident of the bike.
The results for Stage 2 thus had Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step in the Yellow & Green jersey. Tony Martin of HTC Columbia continues in the White jersey. Jerome Pineau of Quick Step takes the Polka dotted Climber’s jersey and Team Quick Step takes over as the best team.
Chavanel after his effort said, “It was a big show today! I took my chances on this stage and I managed to win. This is the happiest day of my sporting life. When I think about it, I realize that this season started with a plague of problems, and yet I never gave up… I savor this moment is what I want: it was my day. Now I have almost three minutes ahead overall! So I think I can go far.”
With the race stage ending in Spa – the Thermal capital of Spa’s as the word & the town is synonymous – the riders will all be making a beeline for the world class spa’s for some healing before starting out tomorrow!!
The Race tomorrow heads from Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut a distance of 213kms. This race stage will see the riders being put to test on their abilities to race over the cobblestones. If Stage 2 was an indicator of things to come – the Stage 3 as pointed by me in my first post 4 days ago will be where the GC riders will have to put up their best. The fun is just about to start …
This is a guest post by Mr.Q, a professional quizmaster and an ardent Tour de France fan who is reporting his 2nd full tour. You can reach him at email@example.com