Freire wins 2nd stage

Armstrong 3rd overall

Spaniard steps on gas, outsprints McEwen, Zabel

Tour De France

July 09, 2002|By Bonnie DeSimone | Bonnie DeSimone,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SAARBRUCKEN, Germany - Oscar Freire of Spain rocketed ahead of the pack just before the end to claim Stage 2 of the Tour de France yesterday, but the sentimental winner of the day was a Norwegian rider who struggled home in last place.

After days of cool, damp weather, riders sweltered in 90-degree temperatures for much of yesterday's 112.2-mile stage. Thor Hushovd of the Credit Agricole team was in the lead group at the 70-mile mark when his right leg cramped and he was forced to call for a quick massage.

After he received treatment, Hushovd, still pedaling in agony, couldn't keep up with the pack. He finished alone, 19 minutes 22 seconds after the leaders, avoiding disqualification by just under two minutes. (The time allowed stragglers is calculated each day depending on the stage's difficulty, winner's time and average speed.)

For the second day in a row, Telekom, the only German team in the race, tried to set up the final sprint for its captain, Erik Zabel. Australian Robbie McEwen appeared to have the edge at the end, but Freire, who rides for Mapei, surged past both.

Swiss rider Rubens Bertogliati retained the overall lead. Defending champion Lance Armstrong finished with the pack and was third, along with France's Laurent Jalabert, three seconds back.

"I was surprised by the huge crowds. I was impressed," said Armstrong, who is favored to win a fourth straight title.

Thousands lined the route between Luxembourg and this west German city to cheer him and other riders, particularly Zabel. One woman had "Zabel" written on her stomach in the pink colors of his Telekom team.

But Freire, the world road champion, spoiled the party by outflanking the German in the final few yards to win in 4 hours, 19 minutes, 51 seconds. McEwen placed second and Zabel was third, in the same time as Freire.

Zabel, who turned 32 on Sunday, was wearing the green jersey awarded to the Tour's fastest sprinter as he entered Saarbrucken.

There were four crashes in yesterday's stage. One of them involved Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service teammate, Benoit Joachim, who wasn't seriously hurt. Spain's Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel was taken to a hospital for X-rays after injuring his right knee and right elbow in the second crash.

Bertogliati said he hadn't expected to retain the lead.

"Today, I had a bit of luck to retain the yellow jersey for a second day," Bertogliati said. "If I hold it again after tomorrow's stage, I'm going to go buy a lottery ticket."

The riders will move into France for today's third stage, a 108.19-mile run from Metz to Reims, the capital of the Champagne region.

Bonnie DeSimone is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Wire reports contributed to this article.

Second stage

To Saarbrucken, Germany

1. Oscar Freire, Spain, Mapei, 4 hours, 19 minutes, 51 seconds

2. Robbie McEwen, Australia, Lotto, same time.

3. Erik Zabel, Germany, Telekom, same time.

4. Baden Cooke, Australia, Francaise des Jeux, same time.

5. Jaan Krisipuu, Estonia, AG2R, same time.

6. Andrej Hauptman, Slovenia, Tacconi, same time.

7. Pedro Horillo, Spain, Mapei, same time.

8. Fred Rodriguez, United States, Domo Farm Frites, same time.

9. Gian Matteo Fagnini, Italy, Telekom, same time.

10. Stuart O'Grady, Australia, Credit Agricole, same time.

11. Danilo Hondo, Germany, Telekom, same time.

12. Jan Svorada, Slovenia, Lampre, same time.

13. Francois Simon, France, Bonjour, same time.

14. Paolo Bossoni, Italy, Tacconi, same time.

15. Nico Mattan, Belgium, Cofidis, same time.

Also

41. Roberto Heras Hernandez, Spain, U.S. Postal Service, same time.

56. Floyd Landis, United States, USPS, same time.

61. Lance Armstrong, United States, USPS, same time.

62. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Rabobank, same time.

64. George Hincapie, United States, USPS, same time.

66. Tyler Hamilton, United States, CSC-Tiscali, same time.

73. Victor Hugo Pena Grisales, Colombia, USPS, same time.

77. Bobby Julich, United States, Telekom, same time.

99. Viatcheslav Ekimov, Russia, USPS, same time.

104. Pavel Padrnos, Czech Republic, USPS, same time.

105. Jose Luis Rubiera Vigil, Spain, USPS, same time.

117. Kevin Livingston, United States, Telekom, same time.

170. Jonathan Vaughters, United States, Credit Agricole, same time.

174. Benoit Joachim, Luxembourg, USPS, same time.

Overall standings

(After two stages)

1. Rubens Bertogliati, Switzerland, Lampre-Daikin, 9 hours, 18 minutes, 12 seconds.

2. Zabel, 2 seconds behind.

3. Armstrong, :03 behind.

3. Laurent Jalabert, 3.

5. Raimondas Rumsas, Lithuania, Lampre, 6.

6. Santiago Botero, Colombia, 7.

7. David Millar, Britain, Cofidis, 8.

8. Laurent Brochard, France, Jean Delatour, 9.

9. Freire, 11.

9. Dario Frigo, Italy, Tacconi, 11.

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