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Stage two of the Tour de France 2013 is one for the puncheurs, with four ranked climbs along the way.
Welcome back to the Tour de Chaos! What will they have in store today? The plan calls for the first climbing, so let's hope that all the excitement comes from some great cycling!
Here is the Cyclingnews preview of today's stage, check it out.
Good news: Tony Martin will be at the start today. He suffered a lot of damage in yesterday's big crash, but has been cleared to ride today. At least he will start – whether he will finish is another question entirely.
We also have a video preview of the stage:
As we said, there are four climbs today, and here are the details, courtesy of letour.fr:
Km 70.0 - Col de Bellagranajo6.6 kilometre-long climb at 4.6% - category 3
Km 85.0 - Col de la Serra5.2 kilometre-long climb at 6.9% - category 3
Km 95.5 - Col de Vizzavona (1 163 m)4.6 kilometre-long climb at 6.5% - category 2
Km 144.0 - Côte du Salario1 kilometre-long climb at 8.9% - category 3
Note that the last climb comes on 12 km before the finish. Will this make a difference to today's outcome?
It is a short stage today, only 156.5 km, so we have a later start. And it is warm and sunny today, we haven't had a lot of race days like that this year!
A number of riders were caught up in yesterday's crashes, including Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff), who ended up rather bumped and bruised. If he is not in top condition today, will the other teams see this as an opportunity to step on the gas and try to dump him along the way?
The race has started, we are now off on the neutralized section.
Kittel glowing with yellow today, he even has a yellow helmet.
Our first crash of the day yesterday was Chris Froome in the neutralized section, let's hope we don't have a repeat today!
Jens Voigt is up at the race director's car, having a serious discussion. Probably saying, "No stuck buses today, ok?"
After all those nasty crashes yesterday, we are happy to report that all 198 riders are still in the race today.
Off we go! We have the sharp start, and immediately we have our first attack. Looks like a Belkin rider.
No break yet, lots of riders trying to form one, though.
Looks like two riders have dashed out to a small lead. "Small" being the key word here....
We now have four riders up ahead, including the ever-young Voigt. A Belkin rider is trying to join them.
No Voigt in the group. Instead we have David Veilleux (Europcar), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) and Lars Boom (Belkin). So far they have 13 seconds.
The gap is now at 1:31. Julien Simon of Sojasun is dangling between the field and the break group.
Boom was also in the break group yesterday.
Tony Martin is looking rather mummy-like today, with all has bandages and wrappings.
The gap is now 2:52, with Simon about 40 seconds ahead of he field.
Oops, let's make that: Simon is now only about 40 seconds behind the lead group.
There is not much flat in today's stage. It starts out with a gradual ascent up to the first three climbs of the day, which come fairly quickly after each other, with nothing in between. After the third climb, there is a long descent – about 35 km – before a tiny flat section, followed by the last little climb and then a flattish run-in to the finish line.
Simon is now 1:13 behind the four leaders. Might be a good idea to just drop back, we think.
The gaps are now 1:51 to Simon and 2:21 to the peloton.
That was it for Simon. He is back in the field now.
Geraint Thomas was oe of yesterday's crash victims as well, and he is at the very back of the peloton.
A mechanical for Philippe Gilbert. BMC is there to help, but he has a way to go now to catch up again.
Geraint Thomas of Sky has dropped back to see the race doctor, we hear. He was taken to hospital after yesterday's stage, but fortunately proved to have broken nothing.
There is one intermediate sprint today, and it is coming up shortly.
Gilbert is back in the peloton, which is now more than three minutes behind the break group.
The fourseome picks up their pace as they near the sprint line, but they don't actually sprint for it, and Boom takes the points.
Boom and Veilleux have a few words after the sprint. Nice words, that is, not angry words.
The sprinters who lost out on the sprint finish yesterday will be looking to pick up points at the intermediate sprint. Cannondale jumps into the fray to help out Sagan. But Cavendish and Greipel are also there.
Kittel lets them go, and Greipel takes the fifth-place points, ahead of Sagan. Cavendish and Danny Van Poppel took the next places.
Our top ten in GC after yesterday's opening stage:
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 4:56:52
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
3 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
4 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol
8 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
Not only do all ten of them have the same time, all 198 riders who finished yesterday have the same time.
OPQS is leading the peloton at the moment, with Argos-Shimano of course right behind.
Kittel can also claim the green jersey, as he naturally leads the points ranking as well.
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 45 pts
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 35
3 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 30
4 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp 26
5 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 22
6 Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Procycling Team 20
7 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 20
8 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 19
9 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol 18
10 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 17
Here is the entire mountains ranking from stage one:
1 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel Euskadi 1
Only one point, but that's enough, right?
The gap has fallen from some three and a half minutes to 2:40.
Kittel could wear white, as well, as best young rider.
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano 4:56:52
2 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Procycling Team
5 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
8 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
10 Romain Sicard (Fra) Euskaltel Euskadi
There is still a ways to go to the first ranked climb, but the riders are definitely climbing now. And the gap is shrinking correspondingly, now at 2:14.
The gap has now fallen under two minutes.
Vacansoleil can claim the team ranking after stage 1.
1 Vacansoleil-DCM 14:50:36
2 Orica Greenedge
4 Ag2R La Mondiale
5 Movistar Team
6 Omega Pharma-Quick Step
7 Katusha Team
9 Team Argos-Shimano
10 Sky Procycling
We have two birthdays in the peloton today: Sylvain Chavanel of OPQS turns 34 and Marcus Burghardt of BMC has turned 30. Happy Birthday!
The four leaders are plugging their way along, with the field 1:49 behind them. The break group has now officially started up the first climb of the day.
Brent Bookwalter stuffs his jersey full with BMC bidons and heads back up to his teammates.
Minard of AG2R has a mechanical problem.
One km to go to the first mountain ranking. It seems likely that Perez will go for it, to keep the polka-dot jersey within the Euskaltel team.
It is a real sprint! Boom takes it, with Perez second.
They were the only ones to get points. Two for Boom, one for Perez.
The peloton crossed the top only 55 seconds behind the leaders, and now on the descent is only 35 seconds down.
OPQS' Steegmans leads the chase.
And yellow jersey Kittel,who is actually a sprinter, is comfortably near the front of the field. So the climbs must not be too bad so far.
And meanwhile the gap has crept back up to 1:05.
The four leaders are now on the second official climb. A reminder, that is the:
Km 85.0 - Col de la Serra5.2 kilometre-long climb at 6.9% - category 3
Vielleux and Kadri pull away from Boom and Perez.
The two leaders now have 35 seconds on their former companions.
An attack out of the peloton -- who else but Thomas Voeckler!
And at the other end of things, Tony Martin drops back out of he field.
And the yelow jersey is dropping back as well.
Voeckler passed Perez and Boom, and is on his way to Kadri and Vielleiux. Was the whole thing planned this way?
Kadri takes off alone at the top. Boom and Perez are back in the peloton.
Kittel and Martin are by no means alone at the back of things, the grupetto seems to be forming already.
Kadri keeps looking back to see where Veillieux and perhaps also Voeckler are.
Voeckler is actually not all that far ahead of the field. Kadri has taken the mountain points.
The field catches Voeckler before the summit and nearly has Veilleiux as well.
That certainly didn't work out as Europcar may have hoped. They didn't get any points at all.
Kittel and his little group have only now crossed the mountain top.
Ooh, things are really not looking good for Kittel. He is now 2:57 back.
Only 34 seconds for Kadri now. The chase is being led by FDJ.fr, and it is taking some time to get used to their new jersies and new team name.
Kittel grabs a feed bag. Perhaps the nourishment will help him catch up again.
Kadri has now 22 seconds on the chasing field, with Kittel more than three minutes back.
That's it for Kadri. He drops his chain, gets help fixing it and now has about five seconds on the field.
But he manages to pull away again!
His lead is now 15 seconds, and he keeps looking back to see how close they are.
Pierre Rolland jumps to try and catch Kadri, and now he has them.
A Sojasun rider is the next to go.
Rolland is now alone in the lead, 20 seconds ahead of the peloton.
It looks like Europcar will finally get some mountain points. Rolland picks up five as the first at the marker.
The Sojasun rider is Brice Feillu, and he takes third on points, behind Kadri.
They are at 21 seconds, with the field at 31 seconds, and the Kittel group at 5:07.
Six minutes now for Kittel.
AG2R's Jean-Christope Peraud just had to change both tyres.
The Kittel group now crosses the mountain ranking. Everyone now faces a very long descent, with a short flat section, the final category 3 climb, and 12 flattish kilometers later, the finish line.
AG2R has sent two riders back to bring captain Peraud back to the field on this descent.
44km to go and six and a half minutes for Kittel. Well, at least he had the yellow jersey for one day. Not everyone can say that!
BMC leads the chase, with Cannondale and Sky right behind them.
Rolland, Feillu and Kadri have all been caught now.
This stage has always looked like one for Peter Sagan, and it looks like his team is doing its all to deliver him as first to the finish line.
Meanwhile the Kittel group catches the group ahead of it. Not the first group, though!
Cannondale is doing 62% of the leadwork, with BMC doing the remaining 38%, we are told.
All of the favourites seem to be in this large group, including Contador, Rodriguez, Froome,and Evans.
Seven and a half minutes for Kittel,, who looks to have accepted his fate.
Another puncture for Peraud! He again has a helper to pull him up to the front.
Two helpers, in fact, as they work their way up through the team cars.
Today was the first stage of the Tour of Austria, and it featured a mountaintop finish. Read about it here.
Now here's a surprise: Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) is way back in the Kittel group.
25 km to go.
Every special jersey will change hands (or shoulders) today, as letour points out. Kittel had overall lead, points and young rider, and Lobato's one mountain point has been bested as well.
There are maybe 40-50 riders in this lead group.
Sky sharing the lead work now. This could be something for Edvald Boasson Hagen today.
The lead group passes the airport of Ajaccio.
Contador very near the front, with 17.6 km to go.
Kittel, and the grupetto, now 9:03 down.
The group is moving through the city streets,which at the moment are still relatively wide. We understand that will change, though.
They are nearing the final climb, which is only 1 km long. After than cat.3 climb, they face only 12 km to the finish line.
A sharp right hand turn and the climbing starts. Flecha attacks!
Followed by, of course, a Europcar rider.
Another Europcar rider with a mechanical or puncture.
It is Gautier who is in the lead with Flecha.
They have 10 seconds on the field, led by Porte.
Flecha is now caught, but Gautier struggles on alone. Riders are being dropped off the back.
Gautier descends with Froome behind him.
Gautier is takng perhaps a few too many chances. But he survives to cross under the 10km marker.
We've not yet seen the finish line today, but we will assume it is bus-free.
Froome is being caught now.
A fan just jumped into the road, slightly scaring a rider, but fortunately there was no contact.
Over 11 minutes now for the Kittel group!
Gautier has six seconds on the group.
Three riders have pulled away from the chasers.
And everything is all back togehter again. Are we surprised to see Sagan near the front? No, we are not.
Sylvain Chavanel, the birthday boy, has pulled away now. And caught again.
Six riders with a gap now.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) is leading this group.
The six in the lead group have a decent gap on the field, pulling away every minute. Wish we had their names!
Irizaare, Morei, Chavanel, Flecha, Fuglsang and an Euskalgtel rider in the led group
A dog ran n the road and a tragedy was only very narrowly avoided.
The lead group is: Markel Irizar, Jakob Fuglsang, Gorka Izagirre, Manuele Mori, Sylan Chavanel and Flecha.
They have 10 seconds on the field, with the grupetto at over 12 minutes.
The pace is incredibly high, with 1.9km to go. The field is not far back, they could catch the group.
Irizar seems to want to contiune, as the others don't.
Now they do too, but they left it rather late, as the Spaniard has a tidy lead.
The others are caught, but it looks like he may well take it!
He looks back and sees the mob very close....
The field thunders its way up, but Irizar takes it! By one whole second!
There seems to be much confusion as to who won....let's hold on here....
It was not irizar at all - but Jan Bakelants!
We think he gets yellow too, but we will wait on that.
Our top eight finishers today:
1 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 3:42:11
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:01
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
7 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
8 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
The question now, of course, is what will be the time limit today? Will Kittel and his group make it to the finish in time? This is actually rather large group.
Bakelants is the new overall leader, with one second ahead of David Millar and Julien Simon.
And our new top ten in GC:
1 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 8:40:03
2 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp 8:40:04
3 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun 8:40:04
4 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge 8:40:04
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 8:40:04
6 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 8:40:04
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 8:40:04
8 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 8:40:04
9 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 8:40:04
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 8:40:04
Hard to believe, but that is Bakelants' first pro win, after five years!
We are still waiting for Kittel.....
It looks as if Kittel will be able to hold on to his points jersey -- assuming he finishes in time.
More than 14 minutes have now passed since Bakelants crossed the finish line, and all the riders are still not in.
17 minuts and the grupetto nears the finish.
Looks like they came in at about 17:30.
Tony Martin was in the Kittel group. Nice to know that he was able to finish the stage.
This Tour has certainly given us two very interesting stages so far! We wonder what tomorrow will be like -- be sure to join us again and find out!