Tour de France02/07/2012 - 19:45 - Updated 02/07/2012 - 19:51
Kern on the attack
Team Europcar shone for a second successive day after Christophe Kern was part of a three-man break that lit up stage two of the Tour de France in Belgium. Japan's Yukiya Arashiro also showed his form with a solid 15th place in the bunch sprint at Tournai.
Following Yohann Gene's example on Sunday, Christophe Kern turned on the style for Team Europcar in Monday’s 207.5km stage one from Vise to Tournai in Belgium.
Alongside the polka dot jersey Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), Kern counter-attacked a move by compatriot Anthony Roux (FDJ-BigMat) after 22km of the largely flat stage. The trio built up a maximum lead of just under eight minutes.
Morkov picked up the point at the summit of the only climb of the day, the Cat.4 Cote de la Citadelle de Namur, after 80km. The three riders were still out at the intermediate sprint at Soignies, which Kern crossed in pole position to take the maximum 20 points and make it two-from-two for Europcar following Gene's attack a day earlier.
But with the peloton closing in towards the business end of the stage, both Kern and Morkov sat up with 30km remaining. Roux held on for another 15km before giving into the inevitable.
Despite not going the distance, Kern was pleased with his performance on the third day of the Tour. "I followed the acceleration of Anthony Roux and another rider, Michael Morkov, joined me in the chase," said Kern. "Morkov was only interested in the point at the summit of the climb and he stopped collaborating shortly afterwards. Anthony and I were riding well and were the strongest, but we knew that the break didn't have much chance of lasting until the end. But it's good for the morale to be in a break like that – and it's also a pleasure."
Seeing Kern ride around 155km out in front during a Tour de France stage is encouraging for the rest of the race – and proves that the Wissembourg native’s injury concerns are now behind him.
The fierce pace set by the teams of the main sprinters caused several splits in the peloton. Unfortunately for Team Europcar, leader Thomas Voeckler finished in a group 20 seconds down on stage winner Mark Cavendish of Team Sky. Both Kern and Gene also finished in the same group. Voeckler now trails race leader Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) by 53 seconds.
But there was good news for Yukiya Arashiro, who put in a competitive sprint to take 15th place in Tournai. Davide Malacarne also finished inside the top 30, while Pierre Rolland, Vincent Jerome, Cyril Gautier and Giovanni Bernaudeau all managed to finish in the first tier of the peloton and avoid any time losses.
The Tour continues on Tuesday with the 197km stage three from Orchies to Boulogne, which culminates with six small climbs in a hectic final third of the race. An ideal route for Team Europcar after Monday's flat ride.