Sprinters, and sprints, are undeniably an acquired taste, especially during a three-week-long stage race. But for those who enjoy the battles and care less about the war, these masters of the small skirmishes and the here-and-now are definitely your cup of tea.
With the exception of a few notable absences, the world's best fastmen were on full display on the flat and fast Stage 2 from Visé to Tournai.
A windy run into the finish would see the sprinters shuffled around like a deck of cards, but in the end the fastest man in the peloton, Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling), who was devoid of his regular set up men as the team is fully committed to protecting General Classification contender Bradley Wiggins, would navigate through the speeding hordes to take the victory ahead of former teammates, André Greipel (Lotto Belisol Team) and Matthew Harley Goss (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team).
‘‘It’s quite nice. I came into this sprint day with really the least pressure I’ve ever had in a Tour stage,’’ Cavendish said. ‘‘Normally in the past, I’ve had a full dedicated team. Normally, I win by some bike lengths. Today, I had to lunge at the line, so you see that it wasn’t too easy.’’
With his sights set on the Olympics at the end of July and with his lack of team support, it remains to be seen whether the reigning Points Classification winner will truly contend for the jersey in Paris, but with today's victory, Cavendish looks more than capable of capturing his second overall maillot vert.
Results - Stage 2 - Visé - Tournai (207.5km)
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 4:56:59
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
3. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
There was virtually no changes to the leader boards as Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) remains in yellow for another day.
General Classification After Stage 2
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan - 5:05:32
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling - 0:00:07
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:10
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling - 0:00:11
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team - 0:00:13
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
8. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:17
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:18
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
Jersey Leaders After Stage 2
maillot jaune - Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
maillot vert - Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
maillot à pois rouges - Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
maillot blanc - Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
Team Classification After Stage 2
1. Sky Procycling - 15:17:10
2. RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:04
3. BMC Racing Team - 0:00:06
4. Omega Pharma-Quick Step - 0:00:13
5. Garmin-Sharp - 0:00:23
6. Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:30
7. Orica Greenedge Cycling Team - 0:00:33
8. Katusha Team - 0:00:38
9. Ag2R La Mondiale - 0:00:42
10. Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team - 0:00:50
Next: Stage 3 - Orchies - Boulogne-sur-Mer (197km)
Km 132.0 - Côte de L'Éperche - 0.7 km climb to 6.9 % - Category 4
Km 163.5 - Côte de Mont Violette - 1.0 km climb to 9.2 % - Category 3
Km 181.0 - Côte de Herquelingue - 1.7 km climb to 5.8 % - Category 4
Km 185.0 - Côte de Quéhen - 1.4 km climb to 5.9 % - Category 4
Km 190.5 - Côte du Mont Lambert - 1.3 km climb to 8.4 % - Category 3
Km 197.0 - Boulogne-sur-Mer - 0.7 km climb to 7.4 % - Category 4
Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
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