Post Stage Analysis
Surprise Win for Angelo Furlan
7 Big Photos from Stage 2 — sirotti
June 8 update: Angelo Furlan brought his Lampre-Ngc team a much-needed victory today in a wet and complicated sprint finish. The 31 year old Furlan won ahead of Markus Zberg of BMC Racing and Tom Boonen of Quick Step. A late attack from David Millar of Slipstream Garmin nearly survived to the line and disrupted the well-oiled Quick Step lead-out machine. Cadel Evans still leads the general classification, which remains unchanged aftter today's hijinx.
Four riders departed after the first kilometer of racing. The early break included: Stéphane Augé of Cofidis, Alexandre Pichot of Bbox Bouygues, Inaki Isasi of Euskaltel-Euskadi, Paul Voss of Milram, and Héctor González of Fuji-Servetto. Quick Step perfectly controlled the race for sprinter Tom Boonen, and never allowed the break to gain too much ground. With 22 kilometers to go, the gap to the break stood at less than one minute. Soon the main field reabsorbed Paul Voss and Hector Gonzalez, and three riders remained out in front. Stéphane Augé, in particular, remained determined to stay away and together with Inaki Isassi and Alexandre Pichot continued to evade capture. With 17 kilometers to race, the break held an advantage of 53 seconds.
Just outside 10 kilometers to go, Quick Step lined up on the front and began the serious business of setting up the sprint. The gap dropped quickly, until only Augé remained out in front. Benefitting from wet roads and a series of roundabouts, Augé continued to hold a slim advantage over the Quick Step-led field. Quick Step held the advantage of numbers, though, and at 6 kilometers to go, the adventuring of Augé at last came to an end.
With the catch, a series of counter-attacks launched off the front of the main field. Karsten Kroon of Saxo Bank managed a small gap, and soon Pierre Rolland of Bbox Bouygues and Anthony Geslin of Français des Jeux joined him. Quick Step's control over the race looked increasingly tenous, and seeing an opportunity, David Millar of Garmin Slipstream set off solo to bridge to the threesome. Millar caught the Kroon group, then continued on solo. At 3 kilometers to go, a flying Millar held a small gap over the main field, still led by Quick Step.
Under the flamme rouge, Millar still survived, though Tom Boonen had two team-mates chasing hard. At 400 meters to go, Millar accelerated one last time in a desperate effort to hold off the sprinters and take the stage win. Seeing the danger, Boonen could wait no longer. The Belgian began his sprint and with less than 50 meters to go to the line, overtook Millar. Behind Boonen sat Angelo Furlan, a sprinter for Lampre-Ngc. Benefitting from the lead-out by Boonen, Furlan came around at the line and took the stage win. Markus Zberg of BMC Racing, the American team riding its first Dauphiné Libéré, finished second. Boonen was third behind Zberg.
In a post-race comment, winner Angelo Furlan said, "It is a victory that I will cherish after working all day at the side of Quick Step and Katusha. I am happy to have achieved this success in a less-than-happy moment for the team. In the finale, it was dangerous because of the rain, but I succeeded, taking the wheel of Boonen and jumping in the finale." Lampre-Ngc came home from the Giro d'Italia empty-handed, so Furlan's win is especially well-timed for the Italian team. Indeed, team manager Giuseppe Saronni forbade his Giro riders from participating in any of the well-paying post-Giro criteriums, because of their lack of results during Italy's grand tour. Saronni's edict cost Damiano Cunego, for one, somewhere in the neighborhood of €20,000.00.
The general classification of the Critérium Dauphiné Libéré remains unchanged after today's stage. Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto leads Alberto Contador by 8 seconds and Alejandro Valverde by 23 seconds. In the mountains classification, Alexandre Pichot of Bbox Bouygues and Inaki Isasi of Euskaltel-Euskadi split the mountain points today and are tied at 8 points each. Maybe they will take turns wearing the jersey tomorrow. In the points classification, meanwhile, Angelo Furlan of Lampre-Ngc and Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto are also tied. Furlan will wear the jersey tomorrow, as Evans remains the leader of the general classification.
On the subject of Alejandro Valverde, the director of the Tour de France Christian Prudhomme told La Dernière Heure today that the Tour would not welcome Valverde, unless he successfully challenges the doping sanction imposed by the Italian anti-doping authorities. The Italians recently banned Valverde for two years as a consequence of his involvement in Operation Puerto. The UCI has not yet decided whether to extend the ban worldwide, but the Tour de France this year passes into Italy. "The team told me that he could race for the first ten days and then retire, but this is not a plan that interests us," explained Prudhomme. Valverde must appeal his case before TAS. "If he wins, he can ride the Tour, otherwise, he will stay at home," concluded the Tour director. The UCI , meanwhile, has said that they will evaluate the documents from Italy and make a decision on Valverde's case by the middle of June. No word yet on the schedule that TAS will follow on the case. Certainly, the hard-line from the Tour de France can not be welcome news at Caisse d'Épargne, especially because the team has a French sponsor.
Tomorrow's stage from Tournus to Saint-Étienne should also end in a sprint. There are four categorized climbs on the profile, though, so a frisky breakaway could snuff the sprinters. For more details on tomorrow's course, please turn the page. See you then!
Stage 2: Nancy — Dijon 228 kmStage 2 Start Time: Monday 10:15 CET ();
Earliest live video: 14:50 CET ();
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Approximate Finish: 16:25 CET ()
The first of two flat stages, stage 2 heads southwest from Nancy to the city of Dijon in the Bourgogne region. The course is a flat 228 kilometers, and it should be a day for the sprinters. With only Katusha and Quick Step bringing big-name sprinters Boonen and Steegmans to the race, there is a chance that a breakaway could survive to win the day. After his break from racing, though, it seems likely that Boonen will want a win and Quick Step should be able to deliver him to the line.
There are two category 4 climbs on the route today, but neither should significantly interrupt the momentum of the bunch. The Côte de Montcharvot rises 55 meters over 1 kilometer and summits at kilometer 127. The second climb of the day, the Côte de Montesson, appears ten kilometers later. The Côte de Montesson rises 90 meters over 3 kilometers. From the summit, there remains 89.5 kilometers to race. After 2 kilometers of descending, the riders can look forward to flat roads to the finish in Dijon. The stage finishes on the cours du Général de Gualle, and the run-in is flat.— Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->