Checking out the competition
Svorada, Zabel ecstatic after Stage 2; Boardman's tour is over
Posted: Monday July 13, 1998 07:05 PM
CORK, Ireland (CNN/SI) -- Jan Svorada of the Czech Republic sprinted to victory in the second stage of the Tour de France on Monday after Chris Boardman of Britain, who wore the yellow jersey at the beginning of the day crashed out and ended his tour in a hospital bed in Cork.
The Tour de France concluded its first-ever swing through Ireland with a cruel changing of the guard Monday.
Svorada, of the Czech Republic, earned his first Tour stage victory in four years with a split-second win in a mass sprint finish to the 127.4-mile (205.5 kilometer) race along Ireland's south coast.
Australia's Robbie McEwan finished second and Italy's Mario Cipollini was third.
Germany's star sprinter Eric Zabel, who previously has come close to the overall leader's yellow jersey, finally donned it thanks to his 17th place finish Monday and point-earning placings in the weekend's prolgue and first stage in Dublin.
"It feels excellent, just fantastic to finally wear the yellow jersey," said Zabel, 28, of Deutsche Telekom, who first rode the Tour in 1994. "But I still must fulfill my goal of winning a stage."
Britain's Boardman, who held the yellow jersey the first two days, was rushed to Cork University Hospital after crashing 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the finish line.
The accident which occured when Boardman's front tire clipped the back tire of his French Gan teammate, Frederic Moncassin - left the 29-year-old with a fractured left wrist and a gash on his forehead.
Boardman lay still beside a cobblestone wall until paramedics lifted him by stretcher into an ambulance. He was spending the night in the hospital.
"I am sorry that Chris crashed, but I am not sorry to take the jersey from him," Zabel said. "I would have won it today even if he had not crashed."
A second, much bigger pileup a half-hour before the finish line sent a dozen cyclists tumbling and dozens more veering along the grassy shoulders of the roadway.
That mishap injured another Gan rider, Francois Simon of France, who received four stitches in his heel after finishing the race in 184th place. Also, the Dutch rider Erik Dekker withdrew from stage two after deciding his badly bruised leg from a fall Sunday made competing in the 22-day Tour impossible.
As Boardman remained behind in Ireland, the remaining 186 competitors flew immediately to France's northwestern province of Brittany, where the Tour continues Tuesday.
Three specially commissioned ferries shipped the bulk of the Tour's roadshow - more than 1,000 vehicles and 3,500 staff and media members - overnight to the Breton port of Roscoff, where stage three will take riders 104.8 miles (169 kilometers) to the southern coastal town of Lorient.
The 85th Tour de France finishes August 2 in Paris.
The big winner in the Tour's three days in Ireland was Mapei-Bricobi, the No. 2-ranked Italian team that has both Svorada and Belgium's Tom Steels in its stable.
Steels won Sunday's first stage by a hair with a pack of sprinters behind him,a feat mirrored in Svorada's win. Steels also placed fifth Monday, which allowed him to claim the green jersey in recognition of the Tour's most consistent performer.
"This is another great win for our team," Svorada said.
"Tomorrow I hope to help Tom win the yellow jersey."
Steels was disqualified from the 1997 Tour de France for throwing a water bottle at Moncassin. is just 7 seconds behind Zabel at No. 2 in the yellow-jersey stakes.
Moncassin is ranked third overall, Spain's Abraham Olano fourth, France's Laurent Jalabert fifth, and the United States' Bobby Julich sixth.
Jan Ullrich, last year's Tour champion, finished 45th Monday and stands in eighth place overall.
The big loser, at least in image, was the No. 1-ranked French Festina team, which last week had a member of staff arrested on the French-Belgian border in possession of more than 400 vials of steroids and EPO, a drug that boosts the blood's ability to absorb oxygen.
Festina director Bruno Roussel launched a spirited defense of his club's integrity. He said his team hadn't known why one of its masseurs, Willy Voet, had missed the boat to Ireland until the media informed him of Voet's arrest.
While Festina had three cyclists in the top 10 of Saturday's prologue, it since has put in low-key numbers. Its top performer Monday was 47th-place Christophe Moreau, who is competing while contesting a positive test for steroids.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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