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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Stage two - as it happened
Gert Steegmans edged out team-mate Tom Boonen to win stage two of the Tour de France from Dunkirk to Ghent.

A massive crash inside the final 3km saw 20 men left to fight it out in a sprint finish in the Belgian town.

It looked as though home hero Boonen was going claim what would have been a popular win, but Steegmans just held on to pip his fellow Quick-Step rider.

Leader Fabian Cancellara fell heavily in the crash and eventually crossed the line holding his left arm awkardly.



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1617: +++CORRECTION+++ The organisers have examined the photo finish and decided that Gert Steegmans pipped Quick-Step team-mate Tom Boonen on the line.

1616: Yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellara fell heavily in the big crash a couple of kilometres from the finish and eventually crosses the line holding his left arm off the handlbars.

1612: A massive crash inside the last three kilometres splits the field leaving about 20 men to fight out the finish, which local hero Tom Boonen takes after a lung-bursting sprint.

1609: The peloton have the leading trio in sight and their long breakaway looks as though it is going to end agonisingly short of the line.

1606: The gap is falling rapidly and with five miles to go the leading trio are just 30 seconds clear. The peloton is moving so fast it is just one long single-file tail behind the bunch at the front.

1602: They're well inside the last 10 miles and the gap to the three leaders is less than a minute. The heavy rain has miraculously disappeared and they are once again racing on dry roads.

1558: The appalling conditions are favouring the leading trio but although the weather is slowing their pursuers their advantage is down to 1'30".

1553: The weather in Belgium is officially vile as the rain hammers down. The roads look greasier that a late night donner and the peloton is taking things very carefully as they try to hunt down the leading trio.

1546: The road into Ghent is soaking wet and with the narrow finish it could be a hairy ride for some members of the peloton.

1541: With 18 miles remaining to the finish in Ghent the leading trio are 2'16" ahead of the peloton, who have really cracked on the power and are rapidly closing the gap.

1535: The leading trio of Sieberg, Perez and Herve are just under three minutes clear as the weather takes a turn for the worse, with the rain lashing down.

1530: There's the first spill of the day as Luxembourg's Frank Schleck comes a cropper negotiating a roundabout.

He's up soon enough but looks a touch shaky as he sets off with a team-mate to try and rejoin the peloton.

1523: The rain jackets are going on in the peloton, while the CSC boys have sat up at the front of the bunch, enabling the leading trio to add another 20 seconds to their lead.

However, that will not be enough to keep them clear once the teams with sprinters decide to crack on the pace.

1515: The peloton has reduced the gap to the leading trio to 2'52" with 46km to go, with CSC setting the pace.

1502: The breakaway have extended their lead marginally, although they have had to push on through heavy rain to do so. It currently stands at 3'22" with just over 50km left. The peloton still look dry for now.

1451: A lightning bolt crashes out of the glowering grey sky ahead on the road towards Ghent. This early in the tour, with riders still fresh and eager, often leads to nasty scenes in the final hour. However, reports from the finish suggest the whether there is fine. Wim Vansevenant, of McEwen's Predictor-Lotto team, is allowed to move ahead of the peloton as it passed through his home town of Eernegen.

1445: Herve seems to be contributing a little less to the breakaway, with Perez taking the bulk of the load. There seems to be a bit of a truce among the peloton at the moment - CSC perhaps waiting for another team to help out - but that lead is now under three minutes.

1438: The pack is at one end of a flat, straight road alongside a canal, with the three-man break further down. As the distance to go ticks under 75km, the group's lead dips below four minutes and keeps dropping. The Quickstep team are based in Ghent, making Boonen's motivation to avenge yesterday's sprint defeat even greater.

1431: The feed station is in Middelkerke, the riders taking their musettes with a squat, spired church in the background. There is not much time for eating, though, as CSC are keen to close that gap.

1425: Tom Boonen's Quickstep boys and the Astana squad - looking to protect Andreas Kloeden's place in the overall classification - are also lurking around the front of the pack and the lead continues to diminish, now inside 4'30", although the group of three still looks to be working well.

1419: Sieberg wins the intermediate sprint in Westende, along with six points in the quest for the green jersey and a six-second bonus in the GC. Herve is second, Perez just behind him.

1411: With the CSC team of Fabian Cancellara now leading the peloton, which is beginning to stretch out, the lead has dipped below the five-minute mark.

1404: The leading trio pass the 100km to go mark with a lead of nearly six minutes over the peloton.

1354: The leading trio of Sieberg, Perez and Herve are now five minutes clear of the bunch, but they are very unlikely to still be clear by the end of the stage.

1350: Belgian star Tom Boonen knows the finish very well as he lives near Ghent and the sprinter describes it as "tricky".

1333: The first intermediate sprint of the day goes to Herve, with Perez second and Sieberg third.

The trio are over two minutes ahead of the peloton and there are 117km (72.7 miles) left to the finish.

1322: BBC Sport's man on the spot Phil Sheehan says it is raining at the finishing line in Ghent. The finish is narrow as well, so there could be some thrills and spills later in the day.

1218: "With the Alps coming so early in this year's tour, I think there are precious few stages to share between the Cipollini style 'week one warriors'.

The first stage finish in Canterbury was a relatively tame affair compared to the recent few first stage pile ups.

So I expect some blood and thunder from now on in with Boonen keen to keep his home fans happy and Husvold also keen to get off the mark.

And who's to say Millar can't keep himself in the polkadot jersey for quite a while by doing a Virenque - i.e. winning all the nursery slopes whilst the real men conserve their energy?"
Pastymeister on 606

1313: Sieberg, who made the initial attack which led to the three-man breakaway, is 6ft 6in (1.98m) but only weighs 12st 8lb (80kg). Earlier this year he finished second in the Tour of Qatar prologue.

1302: The first attack of the day sees Marcel Sieberg, Ruben Perez and Cedric Herve jump 45 seconds clear of the field. Perez is the highest-placed of the three in 53rd place, 48 seconds behind the yellow jersey.

1255: "I cant see anyone getting close to McEwen this week, could be a clean sweep for him in the bunch finishes..."
Benneth on 606

Meanwhile the Tour enters its third country on just the third day of the race as the peloton bowls across the border between Belgium and France. Suggestions non-EU riders have to stop and show their passports prove wide of the mark.

1248: The riders have passed the 10km mark with no sign of anyone making a move yet.

1244: "I think there will be many attacks from the French teams this week. One thing I would look out for is the German teams. I can see Gerolsteiner making a few attacks in the first week, and possibly T-Mobile trying to get Cavendish into a break. If they make it to the end then he'd get an easy victory."
TOP_GUN on 606

1231: The riders have cleared the neutral zone and the racing is under way, but there have not been any attacks yet.

1213: Stage two is off, with the field rolling out through the back streets of Dunkirk.

Fabian Cancellara is in yellow following his superb time trial in the prologue through the streets of central London on Saturday.

McEwen is in green as the leader of the points category while Britain's David Millar wears the polka dot jersey as the leader of the king of the mountains category.

1209: The riders are on the start line in Dunkirk and preparing to get stage two under way.

Cancellara claims Tour prologue
07 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Le Tour prologue as it happened
07 Jul 07 |  Cycling


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