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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Steegmans too strong for Boonen
By James Standley

Gert Steegmans acknowledges the applause as he steps onto the winner's podium in Ghent
Steegmans was a surprise winner ahead of team-mate Boonen
Gert Steegmans edged out Quick-Step team-mate Tom Boonen to win stage two of the Tour de France on Monday.

A massive crash inside the final 3km saw about 20 riders left to fight it out in a sprint finish in Ghent.

It looked as though local boy Boonen was going to get up to claim what would have been a popular win, but fellow Belgian Steegmans just held on.

Swiss overall leader Fabian Cancellara of CSC fell heavily in the pile-up but retained the yellow jersey.

He keeps the overall lead because the crash happened inside the final 3km, which means all the riders involved are given the same time as the winner.

Cancellara looked in extreme discomfort as he eventually crossed the line with his left arm cradled in front of him and off the handlebars.

But he said later: "At first I really felt pain but it's now much better. I'm okay."

There was no plan on who would win the stage - everything happened naturally

Gert Steegmans

Andreas Kloeden of Germany stays second and David Millar retains his third place, with fellow Briton Bradley Wiggins in fifth.

Three riders jumped away early on in the 104.7-mile stage, which started in Dunkirk before crossing the border into Belgium, and they were ahead of the peloton until the final 5km.

At one stage Marcel Sieberg, Ruben Perez and Cedric Herve led by nearly six minutes but they never looked likely to stay clear of the peloton.

Heavy rain near the end of the stage worked in their favour by slowing the chasing pack but when they were swept up it looked as though there was going to be a mass bunch sprint.

However, with less than 3km left, and the field absolutely flying, there was a huge crash which brought down about 20 riders, including unlucky Briton Mark Cavendish, whose hopes of a podium place were again snatched out of his hands.

Fabian Cancellara grimaces in pain as approaches the finishing line in Ghent
Cancellara looked in extreme pain when he finally made it home

The rest of the peloton was unable to get through as the entire road was blocked, leaving the leading group of about 20 to sprint for the finish.

When Steegmans wound things up from the front with Boonen on his wheel it looked as though Boonen, probably Belgium's most famous sportsman, was ideally placed.

But Steegmans kept on powering away and when Boonen pulled out to try and go past, he held on to clinch a narrow victory.

"There was no plan on who would win the stage - everything happened naturally," said Steegmans who was recruited by Quick-Step to support Boonen in sprints.

606: DEBATE

"The important thing is we were first and second. It's my biggest win and at the best possible place - I won my first race as a child just 200m from this finishing line."

Boonen made the best of a frustrating day by claiming the overall points leader's green jersey, with 56 points to Robbie McEwen's 55.

"I am really happy with the jersey. Gert deserved his victory, it was not a gift from me," he said.


Stage two result:
Dunkirk-Ghent, 168.5km

1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick-Step 3hr 48min 22sec
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step @ 0 sec
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas @ 0
4 Robert Hunter (SA) Barloworld @ 0
5 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel @ 0
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto @ 0
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram @ 0
8 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner @ 0
9 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank @ 0
10 Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux @ 0

Selected others:

91. David Millar (GB) Saunier Duval-Prodir @ 0
119. Charles Wegelius (GB) @ 0
161. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Cofidis @ 0
166. Mark Cavendish (GB) T-Mobile @ 0
185. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld @ 0

Overall standings:

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC 8hr 36min 13sec
2 Andreas Kloeden (Ger) Astana @ 13sec
3 David Millar (GB) Saunier Duval @ 21
4 George Hincapie (US) Discovery @23
5 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Cofidis @ 23
6 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery @ 25
7 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step @ 26
8 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne @ 26
9 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole @ 29
10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana @ 30

Selected others:

45. Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld @ 47
91. Charles Wegelius (GB) Liquigas @ 56
185. Mark Cavendish (GB) T-Mobile @ 3 min 37 sec


SEE ALSO
Stage two - as it happened
09 Jul 07 |  Cycling
McEwen wins Tour sprint thriller
08 Jul 07 |  Cycling
Cancellara claims Tour prologue
07 Jul 07 |  Cycling


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