Published: 2 July 2012
Report: Team Sky
Image: Press Association
Team Sky's Mark Cavendish produced a quite brilliant display to win stage two of the Tour de France in Tournai.
The first sprint finish of the race came down to an absorbing battle between the fast men and it was the world champion who proved once again that he is the quickest around as he overhauled André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) in the final 200 yards.
Before then he had positioned himself with stunning precision, moving from wheel to wheel before getting in the ideal spot right behind Greipel.
There was still work to do on the flat-out drag race to the line, Cavendish coming through to win by half a bike length with Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) in third.
It was Cavendish's 21st stage victory at the Tour which puts him in sixth on the all-time list and he said afterwards: "I was alone in the last kilometre. I told Edvald [Boasson Hagen] with five kilometres to go just do your own thing. We haven’t worked enough together when it's so hectic like that. If it had just been the sprinters then it would have been okay but there were climbers and GC riders at the finish. I’d rather just go alone.
"Bernie Eisel kept me up there coming into the final. I knew it was going to be difficult, dangerous and hectic here and I came in without any pressure. I could just be plucky about it. Normally I've had a team in the past who can control it.
"I knew (Oscar) Freire always goes up in the last kilometre so I stayed [with him] and it was just perfect - with the headwind I knew you could come from behind."
Eisel himself added: "All the team had worked for Mark [earlier on]. It wasn’t just a case of me at the end. At the last moment he waited and waited before turning it on to win.
"This year he has won by himself on occasions. It is good to know that we can be flexible. He can do it himself and he didn’t need too many people with him at the very end. We just needed to get him into a decent position early and we know he is very strong!
"All the focus is for yellow. We are all working for Bradley and that is our most important goal. If Mark can win one or two stages during the race that’s fantastic but we are here to win the yellow jersey."
With the field finishing together the top of those overall standings remain unchanged - Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) staying in the leader's yellow jersey, seven seconds ahead of Bradley Wiggins, whose Team Sky team-mate Boasson Hagen is in fifth.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team
3 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4 Tom Veelers (Ned) Argos-Shimano
5 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
7 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat
8 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
9 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
10 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp
39 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
68 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
175 Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team
179 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Sharp 0:00:51
General Classification after Stage 2
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 10:02:31
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 10:02:38
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 10:02:38
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 10:02:41
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 10:02:42
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 10:02:44
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 10:02:44
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 10:02:48
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 10:02:49
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp 10:02:49
82 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:41
101 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:30
151 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Sharp 0:04:10
158 Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team 0:04:19