Stage 2 of the Tour de France travels from Germany to Belgium, Düsseldorf to Liege. A mass sprint is expected at the finish.
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Stage 2 preview
Geraint Thomas wins Stage 1: Full report and photo gallery
Good morning and welcome back to our live coverage of the Tour de France. The race starts in about an hour, so we have plenty of time to bring you up to date on everything.
We have a long stage today, 203 km from Düsseldorf to Liege. There are two cat. 4 climbs, one near the start and one near the end, so the KOM jersey will be awarded this afternoon.
Once the stage reaches the Aachen area near the German-Belgian border, the course becomes significantly rolling. However, we still expect to see a bunch sprint at the end, as the sprinters grab their chance for glory. It seems unlikely though that the yellow jersey will change shoulders.
There were of course many crashes on the wet course yesterday. Most seriously injured, and out of the race, are Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida). Valverde suffered a fractured kneecap and talus, already having undergone surgery on the former. Izagirre suffered an “unstable lumbar fracture” and will require surgery.
The two crashed at the same place, as did apparently also Luke Durbridge (Orica Scott), who sprained an ankle. Rick Zabel of Katusha suffered torn shoulder ligaments in a crash and Tony Gallopin has an extremely swollen foot. All three plan to start today.
The first climb of this year's Tour comes very early on today, the not-so-treacherous Cote de Grafenberg. It is cat. 4, and is 1.4km long with an average gradient of 4.5%. We nevertheless expect it to be hotly contested.
Here the top ten in yesterday's stage and also the first GC:
1 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 16:04
2 Stefan Küng (BMC) +0:05
3 Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) +0:07
4 Tony Martin (Katusha Alpecin) +0:08
5 Matteo Trentin (Quick Step Floors) +0:10
6 Chris Froome (Sky) +0:12
7 Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) +0:15
8 Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky)
9 Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) +0:16
10 Edvald Bosson Hagen (Dimension Data)
Dimension Data reports that their bikes have been checked for motors, and have all been declared clean and "are now ready to rock today's stage!"
In case you missed it ..... yesterday Geraint Thomas surprised everyone by taking the win in the opening time trial. You can read all about it here.
Our reporters are at the start in Dusseldorf as the riders line-up for the start.
This is the first shot of Geraint Thomas in his yellow race jersey. His bike also has special yellow touches.
This Geraint Thomas' Pinarello F10 for his day in yellow.
Here's Team Sky's Luke Rowe on the sign-on podium.
Geraint Thomas also has a yellow Kask helmet to go with his yellow jersey.
It will be a special day for Oliver Naesen of AG2R as the Tour de France nenters Belgium. He wears the Belgian national champion's jersey.
Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) and World ITT champion, had hoped to claim the win yesterday as a German in the first German Tour start in 30 years. It wasn't to be.
Sprinter Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) was considered by some an outside favourite for the win.
Both finished in teh top ten, though. And both were very enthusiastic about the very enthusiastic fans along the course.
Orica Scott has tweeted that Durbridge "has been monitored overnight & been through a test this morning. He will start today & continue to be monitored."
The race starts today with a neutralized ride through Düsseldorf as of 12:03. The sharp start is at 12:30.
A number of riders will be using disc brakes today, but only one rider used double disc brakes in yesterday's time trial, an historic first. You can read about Alberto Bettiol's Cannondale Super Slice bike (complete with pizza sticker.....)
Before the start, Tony Martin says he has put yesterday behind him and is looking forward to today and the upcoming stages.
And they are off to the neutralized start. On cobblestones and fortunately it is dry.
Huge crowds here in downtown Düsseldorf.
The race today goes by a large stripmine, which is extremely controversial. Protests are expected, although the protesters have said their goal is not to disrupt the race.
Thomas and Küng having a nice chat at the front of the race.
Local German radio is reporting total traffic chaos, as many towns along the way are also hosting festivals to celebrate the Tour. And huge crowds!
Things have come to a start as we are no doubt expecting speeches or something of the sort.
A ceremonial snipping of a ribbon, a band is playing, "Ode to Joy"
And now the French national anthem is being sung.
Followed naturally by the German anthem.
About 90 percent of the peloton is still sitting on a bridge. Let's hope that makes none of them nervous.
Off they go again. The peloton that is, not the musicians.
There were, of course, two riders not at the start today: Valverde and Izagirre. We wish them both speedy recoveries.
Orica Scott has two captains here, Chaves and Simon Yates. The former lost a minute to Froome in the time trial, but Yates took his chances in the rain.He finished only 25 seconds behind Froome.
WE have the sharp start! And they are taking off! Remember, we have our first mountain ranking momentarily.
Three riders have jumped away, with one more following. Now to get the names.....
Cannondale's Taylor Phinney is one of those in the break group. The others are Bardet, Offredo and Pichon.
The four have 1:35 already and are on their way up the climb.
Phinney attacks and claims the first mountain points of the TdF!
6km remaining from 203km
The gap is up to 2:27.
The four are: Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac), and Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert).
Today's stage twists and turns around Dusseldorf before heading to Belgium.
To understand the secrets of the stage, check out our special video preview by clicking here.
The break continues to slowly extend its lead. It is up to 3:25 now.
Quick-Step Floors and Lotto Soudal have placed one rider on the front to chase the attack. Team Sky is lined out behind them to protect Thomas and Froome.
Team Sky also has Vasil Kiryienka in the green jersey today, while Stefan Kung (BMC) wears the best young rider's white jersey.
Our tech guys spotted several guys riding disk brake bikes today, including Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb). They ride Specialized and Giant bikes respectively.
This is Matthew's new Giant Propel disc aero bike.
Mark Cavendish's Dimension Data team has also placed a rider up front to help control the break of the day.
The sprinters do not want to let the break escape their grasp.
Mark Cavendish is hoping to be lucky in the sprint and use his limited form to land a result.
He has a special green Cervelo bike to give him some extra motivation and happily showed it off on social media.
The Orica-Scott team has confirmed that Luke Durbridge has been forced to abandon the Tour due to his injuries he suffered in the time trial.
The Australian crashed hard and injured his ankle. He tried to start the stage but stopped at the side of the road after 25km.
DS Matt White explained yesterday that the Australian would be monitored overnight as the injury could rule him out of the race.
"Luke has had a fall during the time trial. Thankfully there's no bone damage but he does have some concerns with ligaments," White said.
"He was going all out for a strong stage result and unfortunately these things can happen. We will monitor the injury overnight and test tomorrow before making a final decision of his ability to start stage two."
Sadly he has been forced to quit on stage 2.
Taylor Phinney made his intentions clear by going in the break today and then winnnig the first sprint to the summit of the categorised climb.
He and Cannondale are chasing the polka-dot climber's jersey.
Marcel Kittel suffers a flat and his wheel change is a little slower than usual because he's using disk brakes.
He is now chasing in the team cars.
165km remaining from 203km
The peloton is keeping the break under control and keeping the gap to around 3:30.
Live television zooms in on Kittel's disc brakes. It will be interesting to see how other riders react to him and other riders using disks.
Nacer Bouhanni has dropped back to his Cofidis team car to drop off his jacket.
The pace is relaxed in the peloton with the break under control.
@BORAhansgrohe Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 11:21:58
The riders are back near Dusseldorf after covering a loop around the city to visit Neandertal, where the first ever remains of a Homo neanderthalensis were found.
As ever the Tour de France is about culture, histroy, geography and fun for the crowds, as well as a bike race.
Indeed the crowds are huge along the stage route. The Germans seem to love cycling and love the Tour de France again after a decade of indiffierence due to the doping scandals involving Jan Ullrich and other riders.
The break went clear virtually unopposed but the average speed has been high and at 44.6km/h for the first hour.
Rumour has it that Elia Viviani will be leaving Sky in a rare mid-season transfer and moving to UAE Emirates.
It looks as if all of Germany is out watching this race!
145km remaining from 203km
The gap is holding steady between 3:00 and 3:30, right now at 3:06.
You will remember that Offredo was attacked during training this spring, beaten with baseball bats.
The gap is under three minutes now, at 2:46.
Sorry to see some raindrops on the race.... we had enough of those yesterday!
John Degenkolb told letour.fr: “It was fantastic to start the Tour in Germany. It's the chance of a lifetime and something I'll keep with me a long time. I'm here to support Alberto [Contador], not to do sprints. I haven't had a sprinting season so I don't have sprinting ambitions this year. It's a long three weeks so if a chance comes ups I'll seize it.”
The race has left the industrial and harbour area of Neuss and moved into downtown, where you wil be surprised to learn, there are large crowds.
136km remaining from 203km
Meanwhile the gap is at 2:15.
No one team is leading the peloton. There are a variety of teams up front.
It is looking wet again, as the intermediate sprint will come in about 20 km.
The field goes around a traffic circle. We have a lot of those here in Germany. A whole lot of them.....
They re entering Korschenbroich. Jan Ullrich, who was not officially invited to the race, is said to be here.
It is definitely raining again and the road is wet.
There are a lot of points up for grabs at the intermediate sprint. The first 15 riders will all get points!
122km remaining from 203km
The gap is creeping back up, to 2:45.
1 km to the sprint! In the pouring rain!
Phinney is the first to jump for the sprint points, but Boudat jumps as well and it looks like he got them.
The speed in the field has picked up.
QUickStep, Sunweb, Katusha all have their trains going.....
Sagan in the imx too. But it looks like Kristoff took 5th place.
Offhand we would say it was Kristoff ahead of Colbrelli and Matthews.
Welcome to Mönchengladbach, famous for its football team, Borussia Mönchengladbach.
So far no official confirmation on the intermediate sprint.
The peloton is learning that 'Gladbach is not an entirely flat city.
Now confirmed, the first 4 at the sprint were, in order;: Boudat, Phinney, Pichon, Offredo.
And the next 11 were: Kristoff, Colbrelli, Matthews, Demar, Sagan, Kittel, Greipel, Cavendish, Swift, Zabel and Teunissen.
The riders are appoaching the large Rheinkohle strip mine. Protesters will be along the road, but have said they will not interfere with the race.
A field of "Windräder" -- wind energy is very popular here, although not with everyone. ANd sadly the rain is continuing.
102km remaining from 203km
With 102.5 km to go, the gap is 2:45
Ion Izagirre's departure from the Tour yesterday was a crushing blow for Bahrain-Merida, as he was their GC candidate. He will probably need surgery on his lumbar fracture.
The Cannondale team car and Phinney seem to be trying to arrange a rendezvous, but the road is particularly curvy at the moment.
No fans at this point, in an agricultural area. A number of riders are taking advantage of that to pull over for a nature break.
Good news, the rain looks to have stopped!
The riders in the peloton are enyoing a late lunch after passing through the feed zone with 86km to go.
The race is passing through some open fields at the moment but there is not enough wind to spark echelons and splits in the peloton.
The race is passing the Citadelle de Julich. We have it on good knowledge that it is the area where former rider Bobby Julich's family orginates from.
The riders are still in Germany but are close to border with Belgium. The race enters Belgium with 55km to go. Thanks to the European Union and the Schengen agreement, there are no real borders between the two countries. The riders will cross the border wihtout really noticing.
This is the view from the race director car thanks to a tweet from the voice of race radio Seb Piquet.
It is no longer raining heavily but the skies are grey.
69km remaining from 203km
The lead of the breakaway is fading gradually as the peloton ups its speed. It is down to 1:30 now.
Each of the sprinter's teams have a rider helping with the chase on the front of the peloton.
We will no doubt see the peloton play cat and mouse with the four breakaways until much closer to the finish in Liege.
The finale of today's stage some of the rollnig roads in the Belgian Ardennes but avoids the steeper cotes that are covered in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
However the rolling roads and the risk of rain should raise the tension in the peloton. Positioning will become more and more important.
The final official climb of the stage is the Côte d'Olne, with 20km to go.
It is followed by a flat and fast run in to the centre of Liege.
There are a few bends in the road during the final six kilometres but the final kilometre is totally straight.
It wil lbe a fast and power sprint. It seems perfect for Marcel Kittel or Arnaud Deamre if their Quick-Step Floor and FDJ teams can get their lead ou right and give their riders a smooth leadout.
Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Laurent Pichon (Team Fortuneo - Oscaro) and Yoann Offredo (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) have held off the peloton all day but they can't escape the rain. It's pouring again at the moment.
57km remaining from 203km
As expected the peloton has eased off the pace after closing the gap to 1:20. It is back up to 2:20.
To understand how the roads tesits and turns before the finish, check out our special fly over stage preview videos.
Click here to see the stage 2 video preview.
The break and the peloton are being extra cautious in the rain as they pass through Aix-la-Chapelle on a cobbled street.
Nobody wants to crash so early in the Tour.
Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) are at the back of the peloton. Both like to avoid any crashes up front by staying out of trouble.
The Tour de France dominates July but there is other racing going on at the moment and we have the first update on the Giro Rosa and the Tour of Austria.
Turn away now for a moment if you don't want to know who has won both races.
At the Giro Rosa Hannah Barnes (Canyon SRAM) won stage 3 to San Vendiamo in the northern east of Italy. She beat Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo-Bigla) and Kirsten Wild (Cylance).
Anna Van Der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) kept the overall llead and leader's maglia rosa.
We'll have full report and photo gallery very soon on Cyclingnews.
In Austria the Astana team finished first and seocnd with Oscat Gatto and Angel Lopez in the unusual 800m long prologue time trial in Graz.
@quickstepteam Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:04:37
Indeed the Tour de France riders are getting soaked at the moment. Riders have heavy rain capes on but are getting covered from water coming up from the wheels.
@NBCSNCycling Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:11:23
39km remaining from 203km
The peloton has clearly upped the pace of the chase. The gap is down to 1:10 now.
The Belgian police rightly dragged a fan from the road after he tried to take a selfie near the peloton.
The roadside fans should always respect the riders.
@TrekSegafredo Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:17:58
It will be interesting to see what Trek-Segafredo sprinter Jon Degenkolb can and will want to do today in the sprint.
Today's L'Equipe newspaper has selected 11 sprinters that are exprcted to fight for victory in the sprint.
They are: Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), Arnaud Demare (FDJ), john Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
That's a long list of contenders considering that only one can win.
Back in the race, the rain has eased slightly but the pace is getting higher and higher. The gap to the break is down to 38 seconds.
The sprinters' teams are coming together and upping the pace.
Lots of Sky riders are down.
Cofidis riders involved too. UAE and LottoNL.
Romain Baedet needs a bike change but is not panicking. There is time to chase.
It seems that Froome waas caught up in the crash. He is being lead back to the peloton by several teammates.
Froome has a hole in his shorts. He must have crashed.
A reply shows that a Katusha rider, in third place at the front of the peloton, slid out at a junction. All the others, including riders from Sky, went down too on the soaked roads.
AG2R is also chasing to bring Bardet back up. Other riders are with them.
The first big crash happened at speed with 29km to go.
It seems that Richie Porte was caught up too.
The peloton is not gonig flat out, allowing the chasers to close the gap.
The break has extended its lead to 50 seconds.
The Froome/Bardet chase group is about to catch the tail of the peloton.
The panic is over but the tension will be much higher in the peloton in the final 24km.
Fortunately all the riders are back on their bieks and chasing. That crash could have been much worse considering the speed and they way they hit some road furniture.
Froome is off the back again after changing bikes. He will now have to chase again with two teammates.
He perhaps took a teammates bike after the crash and so took to his own spare bike from the team car.
Knees and Kwiatkowski are with Froome but he is in the cars and about 30 seconds down on the front of the peloton.
He does not seem worried aboyt that gap.
Meanwhile the break is on the final climb. They're fighting for the climber's points.
Phinney and Laurent Pichon (Team Fortuneo - Oscaro) fought for the single point but Phinney got it.
He will pull on the firstpolka-dot climber's jersey at the end of the stage.
He is the first American to wear the iconic jersey since Tejay van Garderen in 2011.
20km remaining from 203km
Phinney has bravely taken off alone after the sprint. He is diving down the descent to try to gain as much of a gap as possible.
He leads the peloton by 40 seconds.
@OricaScott Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:44:04
@Ride_Argyle Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:43:38
The peloton is taking the descent carefully. However Froome is back on after his brief chase.
The riders are scared of slipping out on the wet bends.
Yoann Offredo (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) has joined Phinney up front. They were the two strongest riders in the four-rider break.
After the descent the peloton is getting organised again. however some riders have fallen out of the back and are easing up to avoid any risks.
It seems Pinot is one of them.
Now Pinot jumps away to chase back up to the peloton.
13km remaining from 203km
Phinney and Offredo still lead by 50 seconds.
They perhaps stil lhave a chance to stay away.
This is a screen grab of the crash from the FDJ team. It was chaos for a moment.
Fortunately the roads are now dry in the final 10km.
10km remaining from 203km
10km to go. Phinney and Offredo lead by 50 seconds.
The peloton seems to be hesitating slightly.
@TeamWantyGobert Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:53:45
Team Sky is back up front, protecting both Fromoe and yellow jersey Thomas.
No one team is leading the chase, meaning the peloton is spread across the road.
7km remaining from 203km
The gap is down to 38 seconds but Phinney refuses to give up.
Adam Hansen tries to lift the pace for Lotto Soudal.
5km remaining from 203km
The gap is 30 seconds with 5km to go.
They could do this if the peloton hesitates again.
@TeamSky Sun, 2nd Jul 2017 14:59:48
Quick-Step hits the front now to chase for Kittel.
Phinney could even take the yellow jersey today.
Phinney lsot 17 seconds to Thomas yesterday but there's a 10-second time bonus for the stage winner.
2km remaining from 203km
The gap is down to 12 seconds now. This will be close.
But its down to 8 seconds. The peloton can see them.
Phinney is giving it everything but they are surely going to get swept up.
An underapass proves fatal for Phinney and Offredo. The peloton catches them with 1km to go.
Sagan is there.
Sagan leads it out.
Kittel comes up late but wins it!
Sabatini dragged him up late and then celebrated as he saw his team leader hit the line first.
It is Kittel's 10th stage win at the Tour.
Kittel is emotional after his win, shedding tear as he realises hes has won. He gets up and celebrates with his Quick-Step teammates.
Deamre finished second in the sprint, with Mark Cavendish third.
Kittel won using a disc-brakes. He's the first Tour de France winner on discs.
This is the top ten for the stage:
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 04:37:06
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 00:00:00
3 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 00:00:00
4 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 00:00:00
5 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:00
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:00
7 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:00
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 00:00:00
9 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 00:00:00
10 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:00
Groenewegen was fourth and Colbrelli was fifth.
Geraint Thomas keeps the yellow jersey.
Fabio Aru is listed as ninth but that does not seem correct.
In the GC, Kittel moves up to second overall behind Thomas at six seconds.
He is now within range of the yellow jersey if he picks up a time bonus tomorrow.
On the podium Kittel celebrates his tenth Tour stage win. He's happy to have won after riding on German roads.
With Quick-Step Floors from Belgium, its also a perfect ending for the team.
Thomas is now on the podium and pulls on his second yellow jersey.
He had a steady day in the peloton but team leader Chris Froome and several teammates were caught up in the crash.
There is a slight correction to the result. Cavendish finished fourth with Greipel up to third.
Kittel also takes the green points jersey after his win and nnith place in the opening TT on Saturday.
Now Taylor Phinney is on the podium and pulls on the polka-dot jersey and beams a big smile.
It's a great return to success for the American after his terrible crash and difficult comeback from injury.
Kittle spoke briefly about his win before climbing on the podium.
"It was such a great start in Germany, it would be a lie to say I had no expectations, it was my big goal to win a stage," he said.
"In the sprint I came pretty late, I went from rear wheel to rear wheel and then I was up front so it worked out after all."
Here's the first photo of Kittle winning the sprint in Liege.
Kittel let out a roar after hitting the line first.
He then celebrated with his teammates.
Kittel expalined that he was emotional due to the sheer relief of winning.
"I'm super-relieved became in reality, I honestly don’t care how many stages I win, it’s about moments, and if have to finish with 10 wins or whatever amount, still be very proud," he said.
"It's a very special win for us, because Dusseldorf's in Germany, and when we saw all the number of fans there, it made us very proud of this victory, it's a chance I've had."
Kittel came from behind to win. He managed to get on Colbrelli's wheel as the Italian went early and then he got a clear run to the line at the right moment as other sprinters were blocked in behind.
"I felt I had the right moment and went for it, full gas," he said before being asked about his chances of taknig the yellow jersey now he is only six seconds down on Thomas thanks to the 10-second stage winner's time bonus.
"We'll see, tomorrow's not so easy, it'll be a bit like stage two last year. We'll see what we can do. We've got Gilbert and Matteo Trentin too for that," Kittle said.
This great shots shows how Kittel dominated the sprint and left everyone else fighting for the placings.
As his Quick-Step Floors team pointed out on social media, Kittel made history by being the first rider to win a stage at the Tour de France using disc brakes on his bike.
This shot shows Kittel's joy and the disappointment of Demare and Griepel. There is only one big winner in the sprints.
Official results were slow today but there was no doubt that Thomas ket the yellow jersey for another day.
Team Sky were releaved that Froome and other riders were not hurt in the crash.
They were unfortunate because the crash was not their fault. A katusha rider slid out on the turn while in third palce and borught all the other riders down.
Yet again it proved that there's never a quiet day at the Tour de France.
To catch up on all the action from stage 2, click here for our full report and photo gallery.
To read the first reaction from Kittel, Thomas, Froome, Kwiatkowski and others, click here.
Froome spoke briefly about the crash after the stage.
"No injuries, thankfully. I’ve just lost a little bit of skin on my backside. That’s the nature of the race," he said.
"We knew that there were slippery conditions, and every time you put your race numbers on you take risks and something could happen."
"Today there was just a touch of wheels or someone slipped a few wheels ahead of me, and at those speeds you just can’t avoid it. A few of us went down, but thankfully everyone is okay and we got to the finish without losing any time to our rivals. That’s the main thing."
Michel Kwiatkowski insisted that Team Sky never panicked when Froome crashed.
"Some riders went too fast into the roundabout, and, you know, with rain all day it was so slippery and everyone was pretty nervous in that moment," Kwiatkowski told NBC Sports.
"We all went down, but honestly, we didn’t panic and we easily came back to the front. I hope there is no damage and nobody really got hurt in that crash."
"We didn’t panic, as I said. [Froome] swapped a bike for a second time when we went back to the bunch after the first time, so it was still pretty far from the finish, and we had great support from Christian Knees and other guys to be back in the front, so no worries."
This is one of the first images of Taylor Phinney in the polka-dot jersey after stage 2.
He's one of the tallest riders in the peloton but leads the climber's competition after his clever move in the break of the day.
We love this shot of Marcel Kittel sprinting to victory. You can see his teammate Fabio Sabatini already celebrating in the background.
The two create a powerfull sprint combo.
The crowds in both Germany and Belgium were huge again today.
Andre Greipel published this photo on Twitter, showing the huge crowds. He wrote: "Without words a picture that shows that GERMANY is cycling nation!!!! Thanks for everyone who made that event possible!!!!"
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) tried to anticipate the sprinters but endecup leading out Kittel and then blocking Peter Sagan's run to the line. He finished sixth.
"With all this big-name sprinters I had to try something and go early because otherwise I’ve go no chance. It didn’t work out this time but the important thing is to be up there and fighting with them. The Tour has only just begun," he told Italian television.
"I think I’ve got more chance tomorrow, the riding finish suits me better and the tem is strong to help me."
Thanks for following our full live coverage today.
For the full stage report and photo gallery, click here.
We'll be back on Monday for full live coverage of stage 3 from Verviers east of Liege south to Longwy near the border with Luxembourg.
The 212.5km rolling stage ends with a short kick up.
The climb to the line is 1.6km long at 5.8%. It includes two hairpin bends and so seems to suit attackers like Philippe Gilbert and Peter Sagan rather than the power sprinters like Kittel and Greipel.
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