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On another windy day in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, Omega Pharma-Quick Step remained firmly in control before delivering Cavendish to a second victory; the Brit extended his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti








27.08.2014 @ 18:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Mark Cavendish proved that he is back in his usual winning mood after his Tour de France crash when he won today’s second stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes just one day after his first victory. The Brit finished off perfect teamwork by his Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates by holding off Enrique Sanz (Movistar) and Lorenzo Manzin (FDJ) in the final dash to the line to take the win and extend his overall lead.


Mark Cavendish just needed 6 days of competition to get back to the top step of the podium after his big crash in the Tour de France and now it seems that he is back in his unstoppable mood. After winning yesterday’s opening stage, he made it two in a row on day 2 in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes.


After a very windy day, it all came back together for a bunch sprint and here Mark Renshaw again delivered his sprinter perfectly. The Brit easily held off Enrique Sanz and FDJ stagiaire Lorenzo Manzin to make ti two in a row.


After the opening sprint stage, the sprinters were again expected to shine in stage 2 which brought the riders over 183.6km from Marans to Niort. After a flat first half, the riders tackled three smaller categorized climbs in the finale before they went up an uncategorized ascent inside the final 10km. However, the terrain was not expected to put the sprinters under pressure.


Two riders, Sebastian Lander (BMC) and Frederic Brun (BigMat), didn’t take the start as the riders headed out on their second day of racing. Early on Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport) and Julien Duval (Roubaix) attacked and after 13km of racing they were already 1.50 ahead.


Burghardt and Van Melsen were both in yesterday’s break and like in stage 1, Burghardt refused to do any work. The German was beaten by Van Melsen in the first intermediate sprint and then decided to drop back to the peloton.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step hit the front and they clearly had no intention of letting the situation get out of control. The Belgian team kept the gap stable between the 1- and 2-minute marks for a long time.


Duval stopped contributing to the pace-setting before beating Van Hoecke and Van Melsen in the second intermediate sprint and then fell back to the peloton. The two Belgians pressed on but were never allowed to build an advantage of more than 2 minutes.


Just after the feed zone, Cofidis tried to attack in the crosswinds and as OPQS joined them, the peloton exploded. That spelled the end of the breakaway while the first part of the peloton had distanced the second group by 20 seconds.


Neri Sottoli helped drive the 34-rider group too but with 81km to go, the two bunches merged. Instead, Van Melsen, Jeremy Bescond (Cofidis) and Jonatan Dufrasne (Wallonie) attacked and they were joined by Julien Vermote (OPQS), Kevin Ista (IAM), Leonardo Duque (Colombia) and Samuele Conti (Neri Sottoli).


That move didn’t get anywhere and instead Van Melsen, Burghardt, Sander Helven (Topsport) and Christope Premont (Walloni) attacked. With 72km to go, they were 1.10 ahead of the peloton and when Burghardt beat Van Melsen and Helven in the first KOM sprint, they had extended their advantage to 1.40.


OPQS had again started to chase and with 50km to go, they had reduced their deficit to 1.15. On the second climb, Van Melsen attacked and he managed to crest the summit ahead of Burghardt and Premont.


The Belgian was brought back and instead Helven and Premont attacked. After a tactical game, Burghardt brought it back together but the Van Melsen made his next move.


The quartet got back together before Premont and Helven attacked again. This time, Burghardt and Van Melsen paid the price for their internal wat and fell back to the peloton.


With 31km to go, the escapees were 1.25 ahead and now IAM attacked in the crosswinds. At the first passage of the line, the escapees were just 12 seconds ahead of a splintering peloton and moments later, they were brought back.


IAM, Europcar and OPQS continued to ride hard, with the Swiss team doing most of the work. In the finale, however, OPQS regained control and again Renshaw delivered Cavendish perfectly to the line.


With the win he defended his overall lead and now takes a 14-second advantage over Sanz and Maxime Daniel (Ag2r) into tomorrow’s two stages. First the riders do a short road stage in the morning where three categorized climbs along the way will test the riders before the slightly uphill finish that should suit the strong sprinters. In the afternoon, the riders tackle the key stage, the 23.4km flat time trial.



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