July 7/03 11:35 am - Tour Stage 2
Posted by Editor on 07/7/03
Tour de France
Stage 2 - La Ferte-sous-Jouarre to Sedan 205 km
We almost had a new Yellow Jersey after stage 2, with Frederic Finot (Jean Delatour) coming agonizingly close to taking both the stage and the overall lead. Finot joined Lilian Jegou (Credit Agricole) 10 kilometres into the stage, after Jegou went clear just 5 kilometres into the stage. Within another 10 kilometres the gap was up to 4:30 and reached a maximum of just under 11:20. Finot started the stage in 86th place, 33 seconds down on Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com) and, with time bonuses gained through the stage needed to merely win to take the lead, because of the 20 second stage winner's bonus. That was the maximum the peloton would allow, and they began to bring it back. They were "helped" a bit when Jegou crashed after tangling with a TV moto and nearly getting run over by Race Director Jean-Marie Leblanc!
Finot waited for Jegou a couple of times while he repeatedly changed bikes, and then dropped him to go alone with a little under 45 kilometres to go, with a time gap of over 5 minutes. At 25 kilometres to go, the gap was still 5 minutes and finally the peloton began to chase seriously, with 5 teams at the front, including Lotto-Domo, Quick-Step-Davitmon, Fassa Bortolo, Telekom and McGee's FDJeux.com squad. The gap started to drop, but not quickly enough, especially when it was disrupted by a crash with 15 kilometres remaining. This was one a of a number of crashes during the day, with the bunch seeming particularly skittish today.
The pace in the peloton went through the roof, well over 60 kilometres per hour, and finally caught him with 2.5 kilometres remaining. So, as expected, it came down to another field sprint, with Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) taking the stage win ahead of Jean-Patrick Nazon (Jean Delatour), with Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R-Prevoyance) in third. Cooke's win meant that no one else was able to take the overall lead from his team mate McGee. Cooke also moved into third place overall, tied with David Millar at 4 seconds
Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) continues to hold the Green Jersey. Amazingly, Tyler Hamilton (CSC) started with his collarbone broken in two places, and finished.