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Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 22:23 GMT
Steels takes first sprint
Cofidis and Millar
The Cofidis team protect Millar in yellow at the front
Tom Steels of Belgium edged out Stuart O'Grady and the rest of the Tour's fastmen to take the second stage of the Tour de France.

The Mapei rider, winner of three stages in last year's race, was little more than a tyre width ahead of Australian O'Grady of the Credit Agricole team.

Scot David Millar retains the yellow jersey, becoming only the second Briton to wear the leader's trophy for more than one day.
Tom Steels, winner
Steels celebrates at the finish

Predecessors Sean Yates and Tom Simpson both lost it after just one day, leaving Millar and Chris Boardman as the only men to retain the jersey.

The 194km stage from Futuroscope to Loudun saw a threat to Millar's position with an attack from Dutchman Erik Dekker of Rabobank, who was adirft of the Scot by just 36 seconds at the start of the day.

Dekker was accompanied by French breakaway specialist Jacky Durand of Lotto, and the Dutchman halved his deficit to Millar by winning all three

mid-race sprints.

The pair had a lead of over five minutes on the road during the flat stage, but were caught thanks to the pace set by Millar's Cofidis team-mates at the head of the bunch.

Millar also stole back two seconds from Dekker by sprinting into third place in the last of the three sprints to extend his lead over Lance Armstrong to four seconds.
Millar in yellow
Prepared: Millar had yellow shorts to go with his jersey

After the peloton had caught Dekker and Durand the stage was set for this year's first battle between the main sprinters of the Tour.

Four-times green jersey winner Erik Zabel was given a good lead-out by two of his Telekom team-mates, but the German could not sustain the pace at the front.

Steels and O'Grady swept around Zabel, and there was nearly a spill behind as slower riders peeled off the front.

Marcel Wust of Festina had to perform a quick swerving manouvre to stay out of trouble and did well to finish fifth behind Latvian Romans Vainsteins of the Vini Caldirola in fourth.
Erik Dekker
Erik Dekker during his attack with Jacky Durand

Steels crossed the line with arms aloft, but his celebration was almost made premature by O'Grady's desperate lunge with Zabel a bike length further back.

The Belgian's stage win means he takes the green points jersey from Millar, who retains the white of best young rider as well as the leader's yellow.

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See also:

28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
David Millar: Britain's new hope
30 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Making merry and making history
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Tour 2000: Stage win hopefuls
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Tour 2000: Young stars
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Following the circus
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
A-Z of Le Tour
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Climbing the Giant
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Tour results and standings
01 Jul 00 |  Tour de France
Brotherton's Tour moment - stage one
01 Jul 00 |  Tour de France
Briton takes yellow jersey
Links to top Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.

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