• Germany's Tony Martin started the day in green, but was hoping to finish it in yellow (Getty Images) (AFP)Source: AFP
“Maybe Scotland Yard can answer that question,” offered Etixx-QuickStep sports director Brian Holm when asked to explain the tactics of his men that doubly faltered at the Tour de France on Sunday.
Sophie Smith

6 Jul 2015 - 7:44 AM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2015 - 7:51 AM

Mark Cavendish was in a position to claim the Stage 2 and his team-mate Tony Martin the maillot jaune but were both defeated within the last kilometre of the 166km stage that Lotto Soudal's Andre Greipel won.

Etixx-QuickStep had six riders, including Australian leadout specialist Mark Renshaw, in the reduced group of 26 that animated the business end of the race, which saw Chris Froome (Sky) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) gain more than one minute on title rivals Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Greipel and Cancellara take the spoils on wild Tour stage
The second stage of the Tour de France exceeded expectations to produce damaging losses for two favourites and a new rider in yellow.

Holm compared the end scenario to February’s Het Nieuwsblad semi-classic in which Ian Stannard (Sky) prevailed over a trio of Etixx-QuickStep riders.

“We did it at Nieuwsblad and we did it again today,” he said.

Cavendish launched his sprint not long after Lotto Soudal leadout man Marcel Sieberg began to accelerate within the last kilometre. Cavendish was first to hit the front but could not sustain what was a long sprint, fading to fourth as Greipel, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek) came around him.

Pundits past the finish line speculated as to why the 25-time stage winner went so long with suggestions ranging from a loss of confidence to team-mates being overly confident in the finale.

Martin and Cancellara battled in the reduced group for the virtual yellow jersey with the latter prevailing after Martin, who had a one second buffer over the Swiss star at the beginning of the day, placed ninth in the stage.

“Everybody did fantastic up until the last 300m and then there was a meltdown,” Holm said past the finish line, before speaking to his riders.

“We told Tony 10 times stay with Cancellara and don’t ride.”

A sandblasted Renshaw arrived in Zelande, Netherlands, having competed under every weather condition during the race that bridged over the North Sea and saw the peloton splinter in crosswinds prior to a fairly straightforward finish.

“The stage was difficult because of positioning and the weather but I’m sure if we look at the numbers it’s not a hard stage, it’s about positioning,” he said. “That’s what we do best as a team. We’ll have to accept this defeat and move on.

“I started the leadout maybe a little bit early,” he added. “It was a slow finish, not on high speed, so maybe [Cavendish] had to go a little bit early, especially with Greipel and Sagan on the wheel like that. At 500m I was already starting to plateau out so that made it quite difficult.”

Greipel had more than one cause to celebrate after winning the seventh Tour stage of his career, which saw him move to first in the points classification.

“It’s the first time in my life I’m wearing the green jersey at the Tour de France and I will enjoy it,” Greipel said.


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