In a pulsating sprint for the line Belgian speed king Tom Steels
won stage 2 of the 2000 Tour de France in a photo finish.
Britain’s David Millar retained his yellow jersey and even managed to pick up a handy
bonus of 2 seconds in the intermediary sprint, as he led the peloton over the line
in third place at Chatellerault behind the breakaway.
Steels edged out the Australian Stuart O’Grady and Germany’s Erik Zabel by a hairsbreadth.
Amid much tussling in the finishing straight, the Lithuanian rider Romans Vainsteins
finished just behind in fourth place ahead of “King of the Mountains” Marcel
Wust (despite nabbing the polka dot jersey yesterday the German was in more familiar
territory today, jostling for the stage win at the head of the bunch with his fellow
express train sprinters).
The 194km stage ambled amiably along through the Poitou countryside without incident
until the first attack of the Tour woke the peloton from their reverie at the 35km
Holland’s Erik Dekker and yip, you guessed it, the predictably unpredictable Eddie
“The Eagle” Edwards of French cycling, Jacky “Du Du” Durand,
launched a daring (or futile, whichever way you look at it) bid for glory as the
peloton were still admiring the scenery and having a chat.
The duoís lead was allowed to grow rapidly and at 75km they had stretched their advantage
to over 5 minutes. However, David Millar’s Cofidis team were determined that their
man would be sleeping in his yellow jersey for at least another night and began to
reel the breakaway in. With 69km to the finish at Loudun the lead was cut to three
Stepping up the pace, Cofidis drove the peloton along from the front and at 148km
the desperate buccaneers were sucked in and spat out as the sprinters readied themselves
for their final turbo charge to the line.
In the end, the 28 year old Mapei flyer Tom Steels had the legs on everyone, but
only just, as he wrapped up the eighth Tour de France stage win of his career.
At the press conference afterwards, David Millar took the microphone again like a
seasoned veteran, showing no stage fright as he spoke affably of his sudden fame:
“I’ve started to get a bit more of a grip on the situation now because I lost
it at first but I’ve had to get used to the idea fairly quickly. It’s a huge leap
from what I’m used to but it’s amazing how quickly you adapt. It’s a wonderful experience
and I hope it lasts as long as possible.”
He revealed only one chink in his refreshingly laid back media persona, blushing
as the French TV host asked him about his supposedly vast CD collection. Any favourites?
None you would know, Millar suggested embarrassedly to the bronzed anchorman.
One tune the Gallic Des Lynam certainly would know is “My Way” which, on
the evidence of his performances in front of the camera so far, is the only way the
disarmingly genial young Scot knows how to play it.
1. Tom Steels (Bel/MAP), 194km in 4 h 46:08.
(average speed: 40.68 km/h)
2. Stuart O’Grady (Aus/C.A)
3. Erik Zabel (Ger/TEL)
4. Romans Vainsteins (Lit/VIN) 00:00.
5. Marcel Wust (Ger/FES) 00:00.
6. Dario Pieri (Ita/SAE) 00:00.
7. Robbie McEwen (Aus/FAR) 00:00.
8. Zoran Klemencic (Slo/VIN) 00:00.
9. François Simon (Fra/BJT)
10. Jans Koerts (Hol/FAR) 00:00.
11. Markus Zberg (Swi/RAB)
12. Christophe Mengin (Fra/FDJ) 00:00.
13. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est/AG2) 00:00.
14. Fabiano Fontanelli (Ita/MER)
15. Tristan Hoffman (Hol/MCJ) 00:00.
16. Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra/FDJ)
17. David Millar (GBR/COF)
18. Massimiliano Mori (Ita/SAE) 00:00.
19. Arvis Piziks (Lit/MCJ)
20. Olivier Perraudeau (Fra/BJT)
21. Emmanuel Magnien (Fra/FDJ)
22. Pascal Chanteur (Fra/AG2) 00:00.
23. Grégory Gwiazdowski (Pol/FDJ) 00:00.
24. Jan Ullrich (Ger/TEL) 00:00.
25. Jan Boven (Hol/RAB) 00:00.
26. Enrico Cassani (Ita/PLT)
27. Christophe Moreau (Fra/FES) 00:00.
28. Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita/TEL) 00:00.
29. Serge Baguet (Bel/LOT)
30. Paul Van Hyfte (Bel/LOT)
31. Michaël Boogerd (Hol/RAB) 00:00.
32. Abraham Olano (Spa/ONC) 00:00.
33. Didier Rous (Fra/BJT) 00:00.
34. Christophe Agnolutto (Fra/AG2)
35. Mario Aerts (Bel/LOT) 00:00.
36. Orlando Rodrigues (Por/BAN) 00:00.
37. Lance Armstrong (USA/USP) 00:00.
38. George Hincapie (USA/USP) 00:00.
39. Michele Bartoli (Ita/MAP) 00:00.