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July 09, 2007

Stage 2 on the road

There's a standard 3-man suicide breakaway collecting publicity at the head of the race today. Cedric Hervé of Agritubel, Marcel Sieberg of Milram, and Ruben Perez of Euskaltel-Euskadi. They've had as much as a 6-minute lead, but the peloton, through the feed zone, is now eroding the lead to give the sprinters a chance at the win in Ghent.

With 76 kilometers/45 miles to ride, the gap is 4:10.

In 4 miles, the peloton has pulled more than a minute out of the gap, and the leaders are less than 3 minutes ahead.

CSC came off the head of the chase for a while, which helped push the gap back up to 3:20, but they returned to the front with the rain, and are protecting Cancellara from any surprises.

At 50 kms/31 miles, the gap is hovering right around 3 minutes.

The day's final intermediate sprint fell to the breakaway trio, with Perez leading Hervé, then Sieberg, across the line. Just past the line, Sieberg tried a quick attack, but his breakmates easily countered.

At 20 kms/12.5 miles, the gap is down to about 1:42. The escape isn't going to last, and Quick Step, Rabobank, Predictor-Lotto and Astana all have riders setting pace. At 10 miles to ride, it's 1:30.

Less than 4 miles later, at 10k to ride, it's been cut in half, and Perez, Hervé, and Sieberg can smell the pack closing in 45 seconds behind.

The break is captured with 3 kilometers to go, and then a few hundred meters later, a huge crash happened about 25 riders back, taking out 80 percent of the field, including yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara.

Quick Step's train was already leaving the station when the crash occurred, so they had a plurality in the surviving 20 riders. Coming to the line, they unwound their train to perfection until the last second, where Boonen mistimed his sprint and leadout man Gert Steegmans takes the stage win!

All the riders caught by the late crash will get the winner's time, but Cancellara is cradling his arm as he comes through the line.

The best way to get my real-time updates is to subscribe to my Twitter feed, which provides short (<160 character) updates as the race situation changes that you can follow in IM, with a Twitter client, or on your mobile phone.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2007 | Permalink

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