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TDF’11 St.2: Garmin-Cervelo’s First Tour Triumph!
Garmin-Cervelo has been chasing that elusive first win and first Maillot Jaune since their first Tour de France back in 2008. Today, on a sunny day in western France along a tough circuit around Les Essarts, Jonathan Vaughters’s boys managed both in one fell swoop.

The jubilant team, clad in white and blue took to the podium following a perfect effort, and the celebrations commenced. Jonathan Vaughters was hoisted high on the shoulders of his team atop the podium and never has it seemed more fitting. Love him or hate him, the success of the Slipstream organization is largely based on the sweat, work, and dreams of Mr. Vaughters.

While the squad has achieved more than its fair share of success in its short time at the top level, there is no doubting that it’s success at the Tour de France where the value of a team is rightly or wrongly judged. Today, Garmin-Cervelo got their huge helping of success, and tomorrow, it will be World Champion, Thor Hushovd, in yellow.

The Garmin-Cervelo team was led home by Thor Hushovd – in a fantastic time of 24:48, a time that was not to be beaten by any of the top team time trial squads. That’s not to say that they didn’t come close – a staggering four teams were all within five seconds of Garmin-Cervelo’s best time, but no one came within four.

Interestingly, Thor Hushovd stood on the podium ten years ago following the Tour’s Team Time Trial in 2001. That year, his Credit Agricole team stunned the favorites with an unbelievable ride to take the win and yellow. Jonathan Vaughters was a part of that team as well.

Back to taking stock of the day…

For the top seven teams, the time gaps were small, almost insignificant. Garmin-Cervelo will of course celebrate wildly, and rightly so, but behind them, a number of top teams can at least be pleased that the time gaps were tiny, and nothing was really lost (BMC, Sky, Leopard Trek, HTC-Highroad, RadioShack, Rabobank).

Unfortunately, Alberto Contador’s Saxo Bank-SunGard team was not part of that lucky seven. They finished 8th – 28 seconds in arrears of Garmin-Cervelo. With Leopard Trek at five seconds behind Garmin, that means Contador lost a further 23 seconds to the Brothers Schleck. Contador can already grimace at almost two minutes lost in two days.

So, with Contador’s further losses, let’s look at the top finishers…

BMC took second on the day, surprising many, but it’s hard to say their performance was too terribly out of the blue – the horsepower on that team is unquestioned. Today, with Cadel Evans leading the way, they proved it. With two days down, Cadel Evans is the unquestioned recipient of an A+. 2nd yesterday, 2nd today, the former World Champion is doing well to ensure that he does not lose any unnecessary time.

On the same time as BMC, but a few tenths back, Team Sky took third. Bradley Wiggins’s overall dreams are still well intact, but Brailsford’s boys are probably not too terribly pleased with third on the day. Rightly or wrongly, Sky is known as a TTT powerhouse, but they came up short.

That small bit of irritation that Sky must be working through tonight won’t be felt by Leopard Trek though. Team Luxembourg should be beside themselves with happiness, as both Frank and Andy Schleck proved almost entirely useless during the course of the TTT. The rest of the team, namely Fabian Cancellara, were able to pick up the slack and motorpace the two brothers to an excellent finish on the day allowing the two brothers to not only keep an excellent position overall, but put even more time into Alberto Contador.

However, their general worthlessness in the TTT must be a bit unsettling. They do have a few more days until it’s really go time though. They’ve got that going for them, right?

HTC-Highroad pulled off an improbable finish to take 5th, only five seconds down. Normally, that wouldn’t be too impressive for Bob Stapleton’s squad, but the team lost big motor Bernhard Eisel in only the second corner. They had no choice but to leave the Austrian behind – his absence was surely felt.

Johan Bruyneel’s plethora of possibilities team, RadioShack, followed in 6th, ten seconds back. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either. The likes of Horner, Leipheimer, Klцden, and Brajkovic will all be pleased to finish the first two days with only a couple seconds left on the road. Rabobank finished a further two seconds behind RadioShack = no problems for Robert Gesink. He’ll be happy with that.

The Losers
For anyone not listed above, the fact that the TTT was only 23 kilometers should be cause for thanks.

Alberto Contador is without question the big loser on the day…again. As the unquestioned Tour de France favorite, sitting in 75th, 1:42 down after two stages is just plain loco.

It’s not just Contador, however. Last year’s fourth place finisher, Samuel Sanchez, is already 2:36 back. His Euskaltel-Euskadi team was never set to put in a fine display today, but on the heels of yesterday’s disaster, it just looks all the worse.

Jurgen Van Den Broeck’s Omega Pharma-Lotto team held it together reasonably well, but 39 seconds is no laughing matter. Of course, compared to the plights of Contador and Sanchez, it is almost laughable. The fact remains though – 39 seconds isn’t meager, especially considering the fact that most of the favorites escaped with only a couple seconds lost.

The same goes for Tour de France wild card possibility, Ivan Basso – his Liquigas-Cannondale team lost almost a minute today. Ouch.

1 Garmin-Cervelo 0:24:48
2 BMC 0:00:04
3 Sky
4 Leopard Trek 0:00:05
5 HTC-Highroad
6 RadioShack 0:00:10
7 Rabobank 0:00:12
8 Saxo Bank-SunGard 0:00:28
9 Astana 0:00:32
10 Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:39

General Classification After Two Stages
1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo 5:06:25
2 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:01
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:04
5 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek
6 Frдnk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek
8 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
9 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek


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