French Victory in Battle of the Bulge

Sylvan Chavanel wins Stage 2 ahead of tattered and torn peloton

It was more like a reenactment from World War II than a bike race. Today’s stage of the Tour de France saw more men bleeding, bruised and broken following yesterday’s stage chaos. Sylvain Chavanel, who cracked his skull in a bike race in April, won today’s 125-mile race into Spa, Belgium. The Quick Step team rider broke away from the peloton at about six miles from the start line and rode with seven other competitors for most of the day. When the other guys in his break started to lose pep, Chavanel pedaled harder. It was never-say-die time. He eventually dropped them all and finished solo about four minutes ahead of a frustrated peloton, which limped over the finish line to protest the treacherous course. There were three tough climbs toward the end of the race. And on the rain-slicked and narrow descent of the Col de Stockeau, about half of the peloton crashed including top contenders Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck. Yellow-jersey leader Fabian Cancellara took charge in the final miles and commanded the peloton slow down to let the injured catch up. “It was ridiculous… guys were crashing everywhere, ” said American racer Levi Leipheimer, who barely survived the melee. “When they send us on courses like this, it just makes it worse. Do they want to see us bleeding?”

For his bravado, Chavanel won the stage and the yellow and green points jerseys. It is Chavanel’s tenth time racing in the Tour de France and his second Tour stage win. A battle well won.

If you think we saw the blood spill today, wait until tomorrow when the Tour riders tackle the cobblestones.

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