Tour de France shorts: Better day for QuickStep, a new winner for 1998 Tour?

Omega Pharma-QuickStep hit back from injury with third, white jersey

Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was denied a birthday victory on Sunday having led the final move that catapulted Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) to victory. Meantime, the Frenchman's teammate Michael Kwiatkowski's impressive season continued as he took the lead in the young rider classification.

"I attacked after the group caught Kwiatkowski and Sagan," Chavanel said, who was celebrating his 34th birthday. "I think it was the right moment to move. The other five riders came with me. We were working well together since the last 2km. When Bakelants went I didn't want to take the responsibility to close the gap alone. If you want to win sometimes you have to take a few risks and play tactically. It's a pity because I was strong and a win on my birthday would have been fantastic. However let me congratulate Kwiato for his white jersey, and Tony for the courage he showed today after yesterday's crash."

Kwiatkowski sprinted to third on the stage with the bunch intent on not allowing too much of a gap to Bakelants. The result was a sign that morale was high in the team despite Kwiatkowski among a host of Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders who came to grief in the Stage 1 pile-up.

"It's an amazing day," Kwiatkowski said. "I had a plan to finish the Tour de France but I didn't have a plan to have the white jersey. So, I was so happy. Especially after such an unlucky day yesterday. I finished 3rd in the stage today and I took the white jersey. This jersey is well respected. I really don't know how many stages I will be able to keep it, but it will be nice to have it even for one day. My goal in this Tour de France is to learn as much as I can and finish this Tour de France. I don't really think about the white jersey like that."

GreenEdge bus driver apologises

Garikoitz 'Gary' Atxa, the Orica GreenEdge bus driver who managed to get the vehicle wedged underneath the finish line hoardings on Stage 1, has apologised. Atxa told media on Tuesday that he felt terrible for the chaos that ensued.

"The team were kind and sympathetic and I'm grateful for all the nice things they said, and what else can I say but I'm sorry," he said.

"I do not know whether I am a world star or an international idiot. It's really terrible, I'm still shaking in my legs now I tell. I must try to put this behind me."

Saturday was actually Axta's first day on the job and he maintained that he was simply following the marshall's instructions to keep driving forward, despite having arrived at the finish a little later than he intended.

A new winner for 1998 Tour?

UCI President Pat McQuaid has hinted that a new winner could be anointed for the 1998 Tour de France if the French Senate report reveals that Marco Pantani tested positive for EPO. Such a decision would be at odds with an eight-year statute of limitations.

L'Equipe reports that a deferral request made by representatives of the current peloton was unsuccessful and the report will be released as planned on July 18. Retroactive testing was part of a French Senate inquiry on how effective the fight against doping has been in France and last week, the same publication revealed that Laurent Jalabert had tested positive for EPO at the Tour in 1998.

McQuaid said that a new winner "would be considered, yes."

Pantani, who died from a cocaine overdose in 2004, won the 1998 Tour from Jan Ullrich and Bobby Julich with the latter two both having confessed to doping.  

Boom on a mission

Team Belkin's Lars Boom was again in the early break on Stage 2, as he had been on Stage 1, but the 27-year-old Dutchman revealed that Sunday's effort was actually a contingency plan. Boom snapped up maximum points from the intermediate sprint before eventually finishing over 17 minutes down on Stage winner, Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard).

"I actually had no choice," he said on the team website. "There was speculation that the jury would take away the points awarded yesterday in the points classification because of the chaos. I won the intermediate sprint yesterday and had the jury really gone ahead with the plan, I needed only to be in the group in order to grab the green jersey. Unfortunately, the jury decided differently."

Boom now sits in fourth place in the Points classification standings, on 40 points behind leader Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) on 47. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Alexander Kristoff are on 43 and 41 points respectively. 

Fuglsang tests his legs

Astana's top-10 hopeful, Jakob Fuglsang tested out his form in the final kilometres of Stage 2, featuring in the late breakaway with stage winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard), Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi), Manuele Mori (Lampre - Merida), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM). The Dane said there was not much hope of their escape succeeding.

"I followed a rider who had good legs, and we all of a sudden found ourselves ahead of the peloton by around 10 seconds," he explained. "That wasn't going to be enough, and we all understood this, but it's important to save energy for later in the Tour on days like today. I knew I had strong teammates behind me who could do well in the sprint."

Fuglsang's teammate Francesco Gavazzi finished seventh. 



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