Boonen quick to bag his victory

The second stage of the Tour goes to script as several of the leaders likely to contest the points t

The second stage of the Tour goes to script as several of the leaders likely to contest the points t

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Tom Boonen came into the Tour de France with much talk of a concerted challenge for the points title, but insisting that he wouldn't be thinking about the green jersey until he had won a stage. Well, the 24-year-old Belgian can now start contemplating a push for that points title having recorded a convincing win over the defending points title champion Robbie McEwen as the first road stage finished with a bunch sprint in Les Essarts.

The roads into the finish twisted trickily, but the sprinters' teams managed to keep a lid on late attacks. Francaise des Jeux, Gerolsteiner, Davitamon-Lotto and Quick Step were all prominent, but it was Liquigas-Bianchi's Magnus Backstedt who made the first charge for the line just inside the last kilometre. The Swede was soon swamped, and as the road straightened for the line, McEwen in his Australian champion's jersey surged to the front.

For a few seconds he had a gap on those chasing behind as he accelerated along the right-hand barrier, but Boonen made an acceleration of his own, swept by on McEwen's left and was a clear winner on the line. Thor Hushovd came through late to snatch second place from the Australian, with another Aussie fourth in Stuart O'Grady.

Boonen had been a possible late withdrawal due to severe toothache yesterday. But a visit from the emergency dentist and some antibiotics clearly did the trick in sorting out his moaning molars, and obviously didn't blunt his sprinting speed either. Whether his endurance may have been sapped remains to be seen.

There was no notable overall change, although Crdit Agricole's Laszlo Bodrogi hopped a couple of places upwards into third position after getting into the break of the day. That went after the first sprint and also included Thomas Voeckler, who took the points on the one fourth-cat climb of the day to secure the mountains jersey, Ag2r's Sylvain Calzati and Saunier Duval's David Ca¤ada. The quartet's lead got up towards four minutes but they were never allowed much leeway by the sprinters' teams and were caught with 8km remaining.

There are three fourth-cat climbs on the 212.5km stage to Tours tomorrow, so breaks are likely. But Tours, host to the finish of the late-season Classic, is a sprinters' city and the wide avenue where the finish is located is the perfect setting for the next sprint battle.

Stage 2, Challans-Les Essarts

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 181.5km in 3.51.31 (47.04kph)
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
5 Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Liquigas-Bianchi
6 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo
7 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
8 Jrme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Baden Cooke (Aus) Franaise des Jeux
10 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros

12 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak
19 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile
20 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
21 Brad McGee (Aus) Franaise des Jeux
22 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval
28 Andreas Klden (Ger) T-Mobile
37 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step
38 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC
42 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros
56 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile
57 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
61 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC
63 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel
71 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC
73 Luke Roberts (Aus) CSC
84 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak
101 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
102 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel
113 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
122 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r
153 Matthew White (Aus) Cofidis
169 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner

Overall standings

1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 4.12.22
2 Armstrong 0.02
3 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crdit Agricole 0.47
4 Vinokourov 0.53
5 Hincapie 0.57
6 Landis 1.02
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo
8 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC 1.04
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears 1.05
10 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano 1.06
11 Julich 1.07
12 Ullrich 1.08

14 Leipheimer 1.13
18 Hunter 1.24
19 McGee
26 Botero 1.30
27 Roberts
36 Evans 1.41
42 O'Grady 1.50
45 Rogers 1.53
51 Klden 2.01
53 Horner
63 Rodriguez 2.09
70 McEwen 2.13
80 Heras 2.20
124 Davis 2.44
163 Gerrans 3.08
171 Mayo 3.15
182 Cooke 3.36

Points

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic 35
2 Hushovd 30
3 McEwen 25
4 O'Grady 24
5 Pagliarini 22

King of the Mountains

1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 3
2 David Ca¤ada (Spa) Saunier Duval 2
1 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Ag2r 1

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