July 03, 2006
McEwen takes Stage 2
It looked like the sprinters would be denied today, as T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler put 14 seconds into the field over the day's final uncategorized climb. But the field wound it up, and caught Kessler within coasting distance of the line. Like a cobra, Robbie McEwen struck to take his first Tour victory of the year.
Tom Boonen was 2nd on the day, off camera (bad OLN), ahead of Thor Hushovd and Rabobank's Oscar Freire.
McEwen, who avoided the intermediate sprint warfare by Boonen and Hushovd, takes over the green jersey. Eurosport reports McEwen says he wants to keep it:
"The most important is to win a stage, then it's about winning a second. Then it's the fight for the green jersey. I have lost the green jersey twice in my career. This year I want to take it. Another stage is the priority, but I'm determined to take the green home."
Thor Hushovd takes back the yellow jersey, as the sprinters move up the GC as a result of sprint bonus seconds.
David de la Fuente, away for 200-odd kilometers, takes over the King of the Mountains jersey and was named the stage's most combative rider, which means he'll ride with red race numbers tomorrow.
There was a late crash that involved a large fraction of the field, right at 2 kilometers to go, reportedly including Floyd Landis, but no one seems to know if he went down, or was just caught behind it (Yahoo! Sport has a picture of Lampre's Patxi Vila being treated afterward). All those riders will get the same time at the finish as the leaders.
1) McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto
2) Tom Boonen, QuickStep
4) Oscar Freire, Rabobank
5) Daniele Bennati, Lampre
6) Luca Paolini, Liquigas
7) Stuart O'Grady, CSC
8) Bernard Eisel, Française des Jeux
9) Erik Zabel, Milram
10) Peter Wrolich, Gerolsteiner
2) Boonen, at :05
3) McEwen, at :08
4) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at :10
5) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, at :16
6) Stuart O'Grady, CSC, at :16
7) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :18
8) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, at :20
9) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :21
10) Manuel Quinziato, Liquigas, at :24
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Uh, OLN doesn't control the video feed...they are at the mercy of the French, so read into Boonen being off camera what you will..
Posted by: Bob Talda at Jul 3, 2006 1:11:35 PM
I'm kind of surprised to see no mention of McEwen's highly questionable cutting to the left before crossing the finish-line, thus blocking Hushovd's line. As far as I know, it's illegal to change your trajectory once you reach the end sprint, so I'm not quite sure why McEwen was not disqualified.
Reportedly, he also bumbped into Hushovd's injured arm; I'm not going to speculate whether it was intentional or not, but suffice it to say that McEwen has a less than stellar record when it comes to ethical choices..
PS! I'm Norwegian, so I might be slightly biased ;)
Posted by: John Welle at Jul 3, 2006 1:49:10 PM
Yeah, I can see the arm hit as being questionable, but the change of trajectory can't always be the riders fault. Be could have avoided a hole, or just wanted the far side. McEwen is a tough guy, and I think he rides tough as well.
Hincapie still rocks though. Gooooo Hincapie!
Posted by: Brett at Jul 3, 2006 7:38:15 PM
The Sprinters are a fantastic asset to the tour. They're Supermen at the end-of-a-stage going 40+ mph shoulder-to-shoulder with their competitor with the determination of a Master Karate Sensi busting 20 bricks with one blow. For one Superman, his finish won't win the overall tour, but a stage in the world's greatest race. As a fan, I admire what they can do ... they make a boring (but scenic) stage interesting. I tip my hat/helmet to all the cyclist who are man enough/and fit enough to participate in this finale. You guys are superhumans. Thank you.
Posted by: CD at Jul 3, 2006 10:49:01 PM
Bob -- I realize that. I thought Boonen was way over to the right, but it turned out that McEwen was coming across the road, from Robbie's right to left, camera left to right. That's why people thought he might have impeded Hushovd.
As a result, McEwen was right of the center of the road (camera right) and Boonen was almost on the barricades.
Posted by: Frank at Jul 3, 2006 11:52:55 PM