Quick-Step Floors’ fantastic work throughout the nervous stage 2 was rewarded with a spectacular victory in Liège
Marcel Kittel made history on Sunday, by becoming the first rider to win a Tour de France stage on a disc brake-equipped bike after coming from behind in the final kilometer of stage two and storming past all his rivals on the way to his tenth career victory at the Grande Boucle.
The pressure of the first road stage and the pouring rain which accompanied the peloton as they left Düsseldorf made for a very hectic day on the bike, despite the predominantly flat parcours which pointed to a bunch gallop in Liège, the most visited foreign city in the race’s history, which was welcoming the Tour de France for the 11th time, nearly seven decades after the first stop here.
Four riders made it into the breakaway – Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) and Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro) – and despite having a maximum advantage of only three minutes, it was no easy task for the bunch to reel them in, mainly due to a crash which occurred in the final 30 kilometers and disrupted the chase.
Julien Vermote, who took the front of the pack soon after the flag was dropped, moved again to the head of the pack and his fantastic and selfless effort saw the gap of Offredo and Phinney drop rapidly. In the closing kilometers, the entire Quick-Step Floors was amassed to the front and reabsorbed the duo just before the flamme rouge arch, but the frantic chase of the peloton meant the bunch sprint was a disorganized one, without any team controlling the affair.
Fabio Sabatini and Matteo Trentin guided Marcel Kittel through the final kilometer, and the 29-year-old patiently bided his time before his huge acceleration and sheer power carried him to victory in a pulsating sprint, ahead of Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal).