Steegmans wins crash-marred second stage

Gert Steegmans won the 2nd stage of the Tour de France after a pile-up 2 km from the finish put about 170 riders out of the final sprint.
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Updated on Jul 10, 2007 12:06 PM IST
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Reuters | ByJulien Pretot, Ghent, Belgium

Belgian Gert Steegmans won the second stage of the Tour de France after a pile-up two kilometres from the finish put about 170 riders out of the final sprint on Monday.

Steegmans clinched his first win in the Tour in the 168.5-km stage from Dunkirk to Ghent in his home country, just beating compatriot and Quick-Step team mate Tom Boonen to the line.

Italian Filippo Pozzato of the Liquigas team came home third.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara, who crossed the line with a minor hand injury, retained his overall leader's yellow jersey as the crash occurred less than three kilometres from the finish.

"At first I really felt pain but it's now much better," said Cancellara. "We will treat it. Now I'm okay."

Steegmans, a former team mate of Australian first stage winner Robbie McEwen recruited by Quick Step to help Boonen in the sprints, pipped his team leader in the final metres.

Former world champion Boonen at first thought he had had the last word and raised his arms in triumph but soon realised his lieutenant had beaten him.

Although beaten into third place by McEwen in the first stage in England on Sunday, Boonen claimed the green jersey as the best sprinter. "I am really happy with the jersey. Gert deserved his victory, it was not a gift from me," said Boonen. German Marcel Siegler of the Milram team broke after 18 km along with Agritubel's French rider Cedric Herve and Spaniard Ruben Perez of Euskaltel.

The trio built a five-minute gap that vanished into thin air three kilometres from the finish following late work from the sprinters' teams.

With some 40 km to go, Luxemburg's Frank Schleck, one of the race favourites, crashed on the wet road but got back on his bike with a bruised elbow. He was pulled back into the peloton by 38-year-old Inigo Cuesta, the oldest rider in the Tour.

Though he did not win, Kazakh Andrej Kashechkin had something to cheer with the birth of as son, David.

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