It was expected the second Tour de France stage along the wind-swept coast of the Netherlands would be a tricky one for the peloton, and the weather proved to be the undoing of a number of overall contenders in the race. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) celebrated his stage victory from a group of just 24 riders, while Fabian Cancellara (Trek) took over the race lead as the rest reflected on who was a winner and who lost out on the storm-swept stage.
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep), 14th on the stage
Cavendish drew criticism for starting his sprint too early and then narrowly missing out on the final time bonus for third place. The four second bonus for Fabian Cancellara meant Cavendish's teammate Tony Martin lost out on a chance to wear the maillot jaune. He is now in second place at three seconds.
"Look at this photo," Cavendish stated pointedly on Twitter, posting a shot of the sprint finish. "If I could hang on for third, I could hang on for the win... Some imbeciles think cycling is a computer game. Problem is, social media & TV are platforms for them to be heard. Gutted for Tony Martin. Congratulations Andre Greipel."
Chris Froome (Sky) now 10th at 48 seconds
"I'm really thankful for my teammates keeping me in the front all day, especially when it really mattered, when that split happened. I think everyone was hoping that storm was going to hold off until after the finish, but that wasn't to be today. I'm just glad it worked out the way it did and that I had the support from my teammates when I really needed it. Being in the final split with [Geraint Thomas] and [Ian Stannard]. They did a great job keeping me up there. Two days down now and I couldn't have hoped for much more from the stage.
"It was only a good few k's after the split happened that we actually found out that it was a smaller group and some of the GC guys had been distanced. It was chaos out there for a few minutes with the storm and the wind. It was nuts at one stage.
"One second he was right next to me so I couldn't believe it when I heard he was distanced. That's the nature of racing here in Holland.”
Giuseppe Martinelli and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), now 33rd at 1:27
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was on the wrong side of a split that happened when Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) crashed just as the crosswinds buffeted the peloton and Etixx-Quickstep began driving the pace to break the field. He then suffered another puncture during the chase. His manager Giuseppe Martinelli rued the bad luck.
"In the wind and rain everything is complicated. Vincenzo was up toward the front, and even though he didn't have many of his teammates with him, he just had bad luck with that puncture at that particular moment. I feel it's a day we haven't had a great time, but we'll have to see if he can recover from this bad luck.
"It's only a minute off a majority of the riders we were concentrating," Martinelli said. "It's something you can take back. Something might happen to other riders, they might have bad luck. Vincenzo is feeling good, he's riding well, you just have to consider bad luck part of cycling."
Nibali told Italian television the team was really unlucky today.
“When Hansen crashed I was delayed and only stayed up by chance," Nibali said. "The team was split up and we were able to chase and close down the echelon immediately. We chased for a long time because what else could we do…”
“You’ve got to accept the unlucky days like this one and look forward. There’s still a long way to go in this Tour de France.”
Tejay van Garderen (BMC), now 8th at 44 seconds
BMC had a decision to make when the peloton split and its GC rider van Garderen was in front while maillot jaune Rohan Dennis was behind the split.
“Like I said in the press conference, no news is good news, so we’re not really looking to gain, we’re just looking not to lose," van Garderen said. "At the time we were just focused on the wheels in front of us and we weren’t really paying attention to who was behind. We just wanted to stay safe and at the front and it just so happens that a lot of leaders were caught out, so that’s good news for us.
“It was a tough call to make out there because our yellow jersey was behind. For a while we were thinking, ‘Don’t work. Let them catch up.’ But then all the other GC guys catch up, so it was a tough call out there.
“[Rohan Dennis] is professional. He’ll understand. He knows what the stakes are and what the situation was. I’m sure he’ll be disappointed, but no one can take the results from yesterday away from him and I’m sure he’s still going to have fond memories of being in the jersey, if only for a day. We’ll console him today.
“It split in the wind and there were a lot of crashes because of the rain. This is not typical Dutch weather. For the past week we’ve been getting very unusual weather in the 30s, but now this reminds me of the Holland that I know.”
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), now 31st at 2:07
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot gained time on his rivals in the opening stage time trial, but the echelons undid all of his hard work, leaving him with a big deficit to make up.
"It was a really close call. The storm happened at the worst possible time as we were leaving Rotterdam," Pinot said. "There was a roundabout and we didn't take it on the right side. After, it was hard to know where you stood with the rain, the wind. There were riders all over the place. I didn't really blow my advantage from yesterday. It was nothing, just 20 seconds
"Tomorrow, we will need to be careful again and stay well positioned. It will be essential. We worked well with the other teams to try and close the gap but we couldn't. That's the way it is. It's a long race with surprises everyday. What took place today was one of those surprises."
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