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Tour de France 2024: Vauquelin wins stage two as Pogacar takes yellow jersey – as it happened
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Tour de France 2024: Vauquelin wins stage two as Pogacar takes yellow jersey – as it happened

Here’s Jeremy Whittle’s report.

Chris Joyce gets in touch: “Hi John, as a tourist visiting Florence, hoping to catch a bit of “main event” buzz like many other events I’ve been too, I can echo Yves Lampaert’s comments regarding organisation.

“Despite googling my heart out, it was very difficult to find out what was happening where and when. We thought there may have been some team stalls up in Cascine Park but a 1hr round trip in the blistering heat did not sound too appealing to walk on a hunch. We found a fairly small commercial fan park in the city and some nice decorations and official Tour stores around before taking our chances and trying to brave the already bustling crowds to find a spot for the ribbon cutting in Piazza Della Signoria. (The fan park was the first time I spotted a detailed map of the route through the city.)

“Despite our experience, it was nice to see what we could and were definitely grateful we didn’t have to cycle to Rimini in that sweltering heat. Thanks for the coverage…”

  • 1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates 9:53:30

  • 2. Remco Evenepoel (BEL) Soudal – Quick-Step “

  • 3. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Team Visma – Lease a Bike “

  • 4. Richard Carapaz (ECU) EF Education – EasyPost “

  • 5. Romain Bardet (FRA) Team dsm-firmenich – +6

  • PostNL

  • 6. Maxim Van Gils (BEL) Lotto – Dstny +21

  • 7. Egan Bernal (COL) INEOS Grenadiers “

  • 8. Pello Bilbao (ESP) Bahrain Victorious “

  • 9. Tom Pidcock (GBR) INEOS Grenadiers “

  • 10. Giulio Ciccone (ITA) Lidl – Trek “

  • 1. Kévin Vauquelin (FRA) Arkéa – B&B Hotels 4:43:42

  • 2. Jonas Abrahamsen (NOR) Uno-X Mobility +36

  • 3. Quentin Pacher (FRA) Groupama – FDJ +49

  • 4. Cristián Rodríguez (ESP) Arkéa – B&B Hotels “

  • 5. Harold Tejada (COL) Astana – Qazaqstan Team “

  • 6. Nélson Oliveira (POR) Movistar Team +50

  • 7. Axel Laurance (FRA) Alpecin – Deceuninck +1:12

  • 8. Mike Teunissen (NED) Intermarché – Wanty +1:33

  • 9. Hugo Houle (CAN) Israel – Premier Tech +1:36

  • 10. Richard Carapaz (ECU) EF Education – EasyPost +2:21

  • 11. Jordan Jegat (FRA) TotalEnergies “

  • 12. Remco Evenepoel (BEL) Soudal – Quick-Step “

  • 13. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Team Visma – Lease a Bike “

  • 14. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates “

  • 15. Giulio Ciccone (ITA) Lidl – Trek +2:42

  • 16. Romain Grégoire (FRA) Groupama

  • 17. Felix Gall (AUT) Decathlon – AG2R – La “Mondiale Team

  • 18. Maxim Van Gils (BEL) Lotto – Dstny “

  • 19. Carlos Rodríguez (ESP) INEOS Grenadiers “

  • 20. Enric Mas (ESP) Movistar Team “

In comes Pogacar and Vingegaard, Evenpoel is in there, as is Carapaz, two great recovery rides there. Carapaz takes it, and he has a chance for the yellow jersey. Romain Bardet can’t close the gap. Let’s see if the numbers add up…it appears Carapaz’s winning sprint didn’t land him the jersey. Instead, it goes to Pogacar.

1 km to go, the Flamme Rouge and Vauquelin, at 23, takes France’s second victory in two day, both in Italy. Jonas Abrahamsen gets second, and will be king of the mountains.

3 km to go: Vauqelin’s team are ready at the finish, for the Arkéa–B&B Hotels’s first ever big win.

4 km to go: Through the leafy descent back into Bologna the two favourites take the centre stage. Roglic has been blown asunder, and they are working together to turn the screw on their rivals.

6km to go: Pogacar’s burst and Vingegaard’s chase has blown the race open, and one of them will take yellow. Likely Pogacar.

8km to go: Vauquelin is headed to the finish line while Pogacar and Vingegaard have put 30 seconds into the rest of the main peloton. It’s as you were, and they could even end up in yellow if this gap keeps opening.

10 km to go: Bardet, Bernal, Pidcock, Roglic all suffering on the San Luca, and then Pogacar goes away, and he’s followed by Vingegaard. The rest are left hanging, and Vingegaard showed the mettle many had doubted since his injury. We have a Tour on our hands, and not a procession.

12 min: The peloton is on the hill now, and Pogacar and Vingegaard are to the fore in the pack, trying to stay out of trouble, with Geraint Thomas dropping off the back. Vaquelin goes over the top of San Luca, Abrahamsen will be grateful for the polka points, but not the victory.

Other news: Bardet and Roglic not in that main peloton group. There’s been a split.

13 min: Can Abrahamsen find his way back? He has Vauquelin in his sights, and he has the pedigree to see himself up through the 666 arches (yes, really) of the San Luca. But Vauquelin has put in an almighty ride, and is giving it his all. He’s rocking all over the road.

14 km to go: The breakaway of the breakaway has 33 seconds on their former compadres. Vauquelin is the rider who takes it up, and he looks behind himself as he begins a solo escape. Another one for France? Le renaissance is on?

15 km to go: In the flat section of the streets of Bologna, Ben Healy, with seconds to gain on Bardet, goes away from the peloton, and the ever mercurial Warren Barguill is up there to mark him for teammate Bardet. He never did turn out to be the “new Badger”.

18.7km to go: The bell sounds, one lap to go of San Luca, up and down, and back again. The peloton has largely sat up.

20 km to go: Teunissen, in that breakaway group, is trying to take the pace up and perhaps breakaway from the breakaway. He fails. Instead, Nelson Oliveira is up there with Abrahamsen and Kévin Vauquelin, and the pack splits to a 15-second gap.

22 km to go: Bardet’s Team dsm–firmenich PostN are doing the work for their man, and the breakaway back is the original 10, though certain riders have already shown the San Luca is too much for them to take on.

25 km to go: What follows the brow of that hill, the Cote de San Luca, is a descent, and the gap is back open to 3’ 32”, and it feels like the peloton seems to sit up a little.

30 km to go: The climbs are steep, winding through the historic city and that reduces the 10 in the breakaway to six quickly enough. The noise is electric, the crowds hanging off every possible bit of masonry. They head up a hill surrounded by trees, the type of setting more suited to honeymoon than bike race. The noise is like Bologna Calcio have scored a goal. Axel Laurence is the leader of the breakaway pack, and putting the hammer down. Houle, Oliveira, Teunissen and even Abrahamsen have dropped off.

In the peloton, Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas are visible among a bunch of favourites, including maillot jaune Romain Bardet. And Pogacar comes up front to take a bidon and looks full of legs. The Tour is on its way to becoming a true race, and already.

36 km to go: The race reaches Bologna – Bologne en français – and the big cheers go up from the tifosi. It looks a beautiful city, one to add to the list. Over 35km they will do two laps of the city, and the gap between peloton and breakaway is dropping to 4’ 20”, and the aim of the teams is to get their men in yellow if they can.

40 km to go: With the pace that the peloton is now putting up, Matthieu van der Poel, the world champ himself, has dropped off the pace. He’s here to win stages, and be a rouleur, puncheur, for Jasper Philipsen in the Alpecin team.

45 km to go: William Preston gets in touch: “Yesterday’s stage finale was epic. Absolutely brilliant. I didn’t think I they would make it as the bunch had got a proper stomp on over the final 5k, but the thrilling heroics of the leading duo took the day. I love finales like that, it’s some of the the best bits of cycle racing. I think this momentum can be kept up, all the way to Nice (one of my favourite French cities). All the best, have a lovely Sunday afternoon,

The peloton can get back here, 5’ 43”, then 9’ 41” to Cav and 11’ 13” to Jakobsen.

50km to go: Mark Cavendish is dropping off the pack again but nothing like as drastically as he did on Saturday. Fabio Jakobsen is today’s casualty, dropping back in the pack, and needing Team dsm–firmenich PostNL teammates to pace him back up. A third category climb now with two more to come. Abrahamsen in search of the two points on offer.

55km to go: Louis Meitjes, a very handy breakaway rider – remember him and Tom Pidcock taking it to Jonas Vingegaard on Alpe D’Huez two years ago? – has a mechanical and has dropped off the leading group

60km to go: So, this looks to be the way of it, and the search for a possible winner comes. The leaders are edging up a climb and Abrahamsen will get the chance to take the single point available. He duly does.

65 km to go: Gary Naylor’s been in touch: “As with so many sports, data has taken much of the fun out of cycling. Nobody’s going to try a mad escape a la Tommy Voeckler these days are they, because they’ll be in the red too deep, too early and the peloton can claw them back minimising effort on the computers, timing the catch to their pleasure. One of the best things about the breakaway artists was that three or four minutes when they knew the game was up, but they were still up the road and they could gurn at the camera, mouth “Hello Mum” in multiple languages and get what I always hoped was a gin and tonic from the team car. Later they would trail in ten minutes down on the leader to tumultuous applause. Bring ‘em back!”

Tommy V was something special.

70 km to go: The breakaway looks to be successful, they are over 9’15” clear and the peloton, on the second day, seems to be tired. Matteo Jorgenson of Jumbo-Visma was the main victim of that prang in the sprint.

86km to go: Picking up speed now in the peloton, and the first sprint of the day at Dozza arrives, with the leaders escaping unhurt. Wout van Aert is all ripped up, Laurens de Plus of Ineos has taken half the road on his red jersey and shorts. Abrahamsen won the 20 sprint points and a couple of teams got chance to test out their formations but let’s see what happened to the walking wounded. Arnaud Demare who takes five points from the chasing pack.

100km to go: The gap is closing after the peloton makes far shorter work of the second climb than the breakaway pack did.

110km to go: Abrahamsen leads them up the hill, to maintain that polka dot lead. Big noise from the tifosi,

111km to go: Not much respect shown for Bardet in yellow in that small climb. Guess he’s virtually out of yellow. The next climb approaches, and the peloton took off a couple of minutes off the breakaway. This climb is short but more brutal than the last one.

118km to go: The answer is not much, but that was an antsy peloton that went for the line. There may be trouble ahead.

125km to go: Here we go, a climb, the first of the day, all 2km of it, at a 7.5% incline. Jonas Abrahamsen, who began the day in polka dot, takes to the front with very little chasing going on, and takes the two points. What will that climb do to the peloton?

130km to go: At least it’s not one of those soggy tours so far. Emilia-Romagna looks a beautiful spot, and on towards Imola they go, scene of the 2020 World Championships, as won by Julian Alaphilippe.

140km to go: The gap gets larger so perhaps they will stay away. Matthews and Van Moer long along gave up their chase of that still 11-man unit. It’s still so early, and with so much to come.

165km to go: The gap is up close to 5’ 30” at the front. How long will the break stay away? Not all day, at a rough estimate

175km to go: The breakaway group is here, and they are speeding along, closing on a four-minute gap and have left Michael Matthews off the back, with Brent van Moer chasing: Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ), Axel Laurance (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Hugo Houle (Israel-Premier Tech), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Kevin Vauquelin and Cristian Rodriguez (both Arkea B&B Hotels), Mike Teunissen (Intermarche-Wanty), Bram Welten (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL), Harold Tejada (Astana Qazaqstan), Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility) and Jordan Jegat (TotalEnergies).

The peloton sitting back after Saturday’s shakeup, the cruelty of such a long chase over such tough terrain. Cavendish is off the back of the group but smiling.

185km to go: It’s a hilly stage, nothing too daft but tough enough in the heat. The peloton is dropped back close to 1’ 30” at this point.

190km to go: It’s baking hot out there, and a series of attacks in the first 10 clicks has resulted in an 11-man breakaway. The main bunch, Bardet in yellow is dropping 20 seconds behind.

The départ nears as the riders take their dummy run through Cesenatico. Huge crowd out there; Italy is such a cycling nation.

Mark Cavendish seems chipper at the depart, saying he’s thankful for the blinds in the hotel and for the “incredible group of people around him”. He says “every metre you do is one less metre you have to do” and that Le Tour is about suffering. “If you have my body type, don’t start climbing now…I’m just hanging on by a thread as a sprinter and that’s by experience, really”.

The Tour is the Tour, even if Saturday’s stage resembled a rather difficult edition of the Giro. Especially for poor Mark Cavendish, who spent the day being hauled along feeling sick as a dog. It did provide a classic breakaway and an emotional winner in Romain Bardet. So, super Sunday, where we remain in Italy for 199km. And it’s going to be hilly, too.

Per William Fotheringham.

Today’s start is dedicated to Marco Pantani, 20 years after his death; the “Pirate”, winner of the Tour and Giro in 1998, grew up in Cesenatico, which has a museum and a statue dedicated to him. Today won’t suit the sprinters, with two ascents of the San Luca climb in the final 32km. It’s a punchy ascent used in the Giro dell’Emilia, won in 2023 by Primoz Roglic, and it is perfect for Mathieu van der Poel.

If you’re reading this, then Pantani will be no stranger but still, his tale is one of the most evocative and sad in all of elite sport, a young man eaten up by fame and fortune.

Source: theguardian.com