SAN DIEGO, June 30, 2013 – After the crazy start to the 2013 Tour de France, the peloton needed a relatively uneventful day without drama on Sunday in Corsica. One odd incident just two and a half miles shy of the finish caused one heart pounding moment. Otherwise Stage 2 delievered, along with a new name wearing the yellow jersey who was a surprise stage winner.
A group of four riders attempted to break away from the peloton early, but could not hold on. Individual riders took turns attacking on the stage’s climbs incluing Tour favorite Chris Froome.
But at the finishing line, the day belonged to 27 year old Belgian rider Jan Bakelants, ridnig for the American team RadioShack Leopard Trek. Bakelants got his first win as a pro, and he seemed just as surprised as everyone else when he crossed the line ahead of his rivals in the main field.
Bakelants took a chance with one kilometer to go and pressed forward, and he managed to hold off a late charging Peter Sagan of Cannondale, who finished second.
Because Bakelants also had a one second time gap between himself and Sagan, he is now wearing the yellow jersey as the Tour leader. His winning time was three hours, 43 minutes, 11 seconds.
Bakelants said he was riding with a small group as the finish approached, and instinct told him it was a golden opportunity. “I felt the others weren’t going at 100 percent so I stayed back, but then I saw the peloton were closing in on me,” the RadioShack rider said. “With 500 meters to go I had a look and I saw that I was still 100 meters clear of the peloton. I gave everything I had and I made it by one second. But that doesn’t matter, I have the yellow jersey.”
Bakelants had a tough year including knee surgery, saying it was misery. He said he was overwhelmed with joy at the finish line, and was still emotional after the yellow jersey ceremony. “It’s difficult to believe what happened today, it’s fantastic,” said Bakelants. “Today it may be the first and last time I ever wear the yellow jersey.”
Spectators gasped when a small white dog ran out onto the course two and a half miles shy of the finish line as the riders approached. The owner started to step out on the road but thought the better of it. He stepped back just in time as the leading riders whizzed past him. The dog then crossed the street again and missed being flattened by the rest of the oncoming peloton by inches. It could have been a real disaster for everyone.
As expected, the day’s route of rolling hills proved challenging for most of the pure sprinters. They were dropped off the back, including sprinting star Mark Cavendish of Omego Pharma Quickstep who was left out of the hunt on Saturday, and Stage 1 yellow jersey winner Marcel Kittel. The group rolled in 17 minutes after the winner crossed the finish line.
The top GC contenders all safetly finished the stage and are standing one second behind. Cadel Evans of BMC is in tenth place, although it’s meaningless at this point.
Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma Quickstep is wearing the best young rider’s white jersey. Pierre Rolland of Europcar won the first King of the Mountains jersey. Stage 1 winner Marcel Kittle kept the green sprinters jersey
All 198 riders remain in the race and will start Monday’s Stage 3, the final stage in Corsica. This stage from Ajaccio to Calvi is 90 miles which will hug the coastline. There isn’t a minute to rest and plenty of hills including a Category 2 climb right at the finish.
The peloton will need to work quite hard to stick together. A rider like Thomas Voeckler of Europcar who was aggressive Sunday might want to seize the reins here, especially after his excellent ride and surprising fourth place finish overall last year. It’s also possible one of the GC riders like Cadel Evans might take a chance early and see if he can gain time on his rivals. See the Stage 3 route here.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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