Chris Sutton wins stage two bunch sprint in Franco-Belge
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Chris Sutton wins stage two bunch sprint in Franco-Belge

by Ben Atkins at 1:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Robbie McEwen holds race lead after nine-man break dominates stage

chris suttonChris Sutton (Team Sky) won the second stage of the Tour de Wallonie-Picardie/Circuit Franco-Belge, between Menen and Poperinge, as it finished in a bunch sprint once again. The Australian picked up his third victory of the season after his team chased down a late break from Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) in the closing kilometres of the 181km stage. Tom Veelers (Skil-Shimano) finished in second place, with World under-23 silver medallist Adrien Petit (Cofidis) in third.

“The team took the bull by the horns and really gave it some today for me. It was just incredible and to finish off their beautiful work was amazing,” said Sutton afterwards. “The whole team was up there at the end. It was just a perfect lead-out. Two Skil-Shimano riders wanted to box onto Mat Hayman’s wheel and I just let them on. Russ [Downing] was just in behind me protecting me. He was going to come around at the last minute if we ran out of men but Mat was going like 10 men.

“Then we hit he pavé which is where he really excels and he just got quicker and quicker,” he continued. “The Skil guys went too early and I just got a perfect run. It’s been a great day not just for me but all the boys and the whole team.

“I haven’t really thought about the overall I just wanted to win a stage here. I feel like I’ve got pretty good form off the Vuelta and then carried it on through the Worlds. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”

A nine-man break escapes as the race passes through Flanders Fields

The stage was dominated by a nine-man breakaway, made up of Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Quick Step), Kjell Carlstrom (Team Sky), Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha), Cyril Lemoine and Rony Martias (Saur-Sojasun), Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Gregory Habeaux (Verandas Willems-Accent), Tom Dernies (Lotto-Bodysol) and Gilles Devillers (Wallonie Bruxelles-Crédit Agricole), who escaped in the opening kilometres.

After 59.4km, as they crossed the finish line for the first time to start the four 23.7km finishing circuits that included the climb of the Mont-Rouge, the nine riders led by 2’15”. The second time around the gap had grown to 2’55”, before the RadioShack team, of stage one winner and race leader Robbie McEwen, began to close it down, with the help of Omega Pharma-Lotto.

The leaders’ advantage fell steadily until, shortly after the Mont-Rouge on the penultimate lap, the peloton had them in sight. Ignatiev and Carlstrom persisted with their efforts for a few kilometres, but it was all together as the race entered the final lap.

The peloton was apparently heading for a sprint, but Phinney – who had been complaining of stomach problems in the morning before the stage – had other ideas and attacked with ten kilometres to go.

"I wanted to test the legs for the queen stage on Sunday and put in a good attack over the last climb today," he said. "Unfortunately, nobody could follow me through the downhill, so I wound up out there by myself. It was somewhat of a suicide attack but a good test for Sunday. I'm hoping my stomach problems will be resolved by then."

The 21-year-old American managed to open up an eight second lead but, with the Sky team now leading the peloton, he had no chance of staying clear on his own and was pulled back with five kilometres to go.

McEwen finished sixteenth and so missed out on the bonus seconds on the line; he holds on to his lead though, on the same time as Sutton, thanks to his better finishing average over the two stages.

Result stage 2
1. Chris Sutton (Aus) Team Sky
2. Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano
3. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
4. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ
5. Russell Downing (GBr) Team Sky
6. Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank-SunGard
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
8. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
9. Davide Vigano (Ita) Leopard Trek
10. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Garmin-Cervélo

Standings after stage 2
1. Robbie McEwen (Aus) RadioShack
2. Chris Sutton (Aus) Team Sky
3. Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano @ 4s
4. Adam Blythe (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto
5. Ronan van Zandbeek (Ned) Skil-Shimano
6. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis @ 6s
7. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Leopard Trek
8. Kjell Carlström (Fin) Team Sky
9. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Team Sky @ 7s
10. Ronny Matias (Fra) Saur-Sojasun


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