Team Lotto-Domo sprint specialist Robbie McEwen took the second stage of the 2004 Tour de France Monday, while a dramatic crash in sight of the finish line highlighted a day in which a number of accidents befell riders on the flat 123-mile stage from Charleroi to Namur, Belgium.
Tour de France News: McEwen Wins Stage 2
Robbie McEwen Wins Stage 2
Cofidis's Jimmy Casper went down in the final stretch of Stage 2, and earlier in the race Gian Matteo Fagnini, a leadout man for Domina Vacanze's Mario Cipollini is thought to have broken his collarbone during a high-speed crash. It appears Fagnini will be out for the rest of the Tour. Frederic Bessy (Cofidis) was also unseated during the late stages of the race.
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), who remounted and rejoined the peloton after a minor crash, took second place. His time was fast enough to wrestle the yellow jersey away from Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) who wore yellow for the first two days of the Tour after winning the prologue Saturday. Jean-Patrick Nazon (Ag2R Prevoyance) rounded out the top three. Cancellara is in second place overall while Mc Ewen is currently third in the general standings.
Lance Armstrong placed 24th, while main rivals Jan Ullrich, Iban Mayo, and Tyler Hamilton finished 38th, 69th, and 89th respectively. Former USPS domestique Roberto Heras (Liberty-Seguros) finished 93rd after struggling through the stage with a flat tire and another mechanical problem, causing him to chase the rest of the field late in the stage. Armstrong is currently in fourth place overall.
Like Stage 1, Stage 2 of the Tour favored the sprinters and, just under five miles into the stage, six riders broke from the peloton. Jerome Pineau (Brioches La Boulangere), Jakob Piil (CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Christophe Edelaine (Cofidis), Mark Scanlon (Ag2R Prevoyance), and Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com) broke away and were able to get five minutes ahead of the main pack. But, with nearly 14 miles to go, the peloton was 16 seconds out from the leaders after having chipped away at the gap continuously over the course of the stage.
With about 12 miles to go, the leaders were overtaken and at eight or so miles from the finish, USPS and Fasso Bortolo jockeyed for lead positions setting up the final flash for the finish line with McEwen just edging out Hushovd and Nazon.
Paolo Bettini, (Quick Step) took the polka dotted jersey for the stage's best climber after securing the most points on the first sprint of the race.