David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) warmed down on the rollers in the shadow of a bar well away from the noise of the finish area of the stage, taking time to ease the pain of the stage from his legs and the anger and disappointment of missing out on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
Millar knew he had a great shot at taking the yellow jersey after finishing fourth on Saturday's first stage. With no time bonuses to change the overall classification and with most of his well-placed rivals dropped from the front group, Millar just needed to finish well up in the sprint to hit the jackpot.
The yellow jersey was within his grasp but cycling can be a cruel sport. Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard) deservingly won the stage with a late attack and finished one second ahead of Millar and the other chasers. Millar finished 13th in the sprint. That was enough to give Bakelants the yellow jersey and leave Millar agonisingly close but in the shadow of success, one place from glory.
"It's very disappointing. At the same time we were all on our hands and knees, and I couldn't get out of the saddle in the last two kilometres because I was cramping up all over. I did the sprint sitting down. We were just too tired," he told Cyclingnews and Cycling Weekly.
"We did what we could with the means we had. Everyone had a very hard race. It was harder than everyone had expected, it was very hot. When you're on your hands and knees in the finale, it's hard to coordinate things. Bakelants was able to stay away because he had the legs and took the opportunity in the chaos."
Millar and his Garmin-Sharp teammates knew that yellow was possible but with so few teams well represented in the chase group, it was difficult to inspire a determined pursuit and bring back Bakelants.
"It was a mystery stage. We didn’t know if it was going to be a sprint stage or if there would be attacking for an hour. What made the difference was FDJ attacking and doing what they did (on the main climb). That changed everything, otherwise it would have been a sprint finish, though the final climb was pretty hard."
"I knew I was effectively in yellow if I could handle the sprint well enough. I just picked the guy I need to follow. Impey was one and I thought Gerrans would do a good sprint. But then I couldn't do anything because of the cramps. I followed Edvald Boasson and held him to the line."
Millar wore the yellow jersey for three day in 2000 when he won the opening time trial stage. He admitted that a second opportunity could now have slipped his grasp due to the difficulty of Monday's third stage to Calvi along the twisting western coast of Corsica.
“It could go (change hands) tomorrow or on Tuesday but it's an opportunity lost that's for sure, being that close," he said.
"Tomorrow is a really hard stage. I think a group of five could arrive in the finale. It'll probable be one of our climbers rather than me but I'll do my best and see what happens."
"We've got a really strong team here. We're not riding defend things. I think it will be very aggressive and then we've got the team time trial on Tuesday."
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