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An-Post Sean Kelly team survive another tough day

Posted 02 February 2012


by Cillian Kelly

The An Post-Sean Kelly team came through another tough day on stage two of the Étoile de Bessèges where Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) won the shortened stage after a mass sprint finish in the town of Saint-Ambroix. 

Belgian Kenneth Vanbilsen in 17th was the best placed finisher for An Post-Sean Kelly team whose eight riders all finished in the bunch.

The extremely cold weather conditions in the south of France led to dangerous road conditions and a protest by the peloton who refused to race the entire 149km route.

Temperatures in the region dipped to below -5°C leading the organisers to cancel the hilly first part of the stage and to start it just 58.8 kilometres from the finish.

The conditions were so bad that the riders chose to make their way to the new stage start in their team cars.

The shorter stage meant that it was always going to be difficult for a breakaway to stick and the inevitable bunch sprint ensued after five laps of a 7.3 kilometres finishing circuit.

The FDJ-BigMat team of yesterday's stage winner and race leader Nacer Bouhanni took charge of keeping the peloton together in the closing kilometres and did their best to setup Bouhanni for a repeat victory.

It wasn't to be for the Frenchman and he had to settle for third place as German powerhouse Kittel took the stage win in Saint-Ambroix, while Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) finished second.

Tomorrow's third stage of the five-day race takes the riders 152km around the town of Bessèges itself. The temperature is once again expected to drop below 0°C which should make for another very difficult day in the saddle for the An Post-Sean Kelly team.


Étoile de Bessèges, Stage 2: Nîmes– Saint-Ambroix, 58.8 kilometres 

1. Marcel Kittel (Project 1t4i) 1:33:29
2. Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM)
3. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat)
4. Daniele Colli (Team Type 1) 

5. Justin Jules (Véranda Rideau-Super U)

An-Post Sean Kelly Team:

17. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Belgium)
27. Gediminas Bagdonas (Lithuania)
44. Niko Eeckhout (Belgium)
81. Mark McNally  (Great Britain)
85. Pieter Ghyllebert (Belgium)
94. Sean Downey (Ireland)
98. Ronan McLaughlin (Ireland)
100. Stijn Ennekens (Belgium) - all same time

General classification after stage 2:

1. Marcel Kittell (PRO)  05:03:38

2. Nacer Bohuanni (FDJ) at 02''

3. Bobbie Traksel (LAN) at  09''

4. Kris Boeckmans (VCD) at 10''

5. Steven Van Vooren (TSV) at 13''

An Post-Sean Kelly Team:

22. Gediminas Bagdonas (Lithuania) at 16 seconds
23. Kenneth Vanbilsen (Belgium) - same time
40. Niko Eeckhout (Belgium) - same time
77. Pieter Ghyllebert (Belgium) - same time
98. Ronan McLaughlin (Ireland) - same time
103. Mark McNally (Great Britain) - same time
125. Sean Downey (Ireland)  at 3 minutes, 28 seconds
132. Stijn Ennekens (Belgium) at 10 minutes, 25 seconds

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