BRIGNOLES, France — Lance Armstrong just wanted to stay out of trouble on a scorching day one rider felt was better suited for baking bread.
British sprinter Mark Cavendish won the second stage of the Tour de France on Sunday, with Armstrong finishing safely in the pack and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland keeping the leader’s yellow jersey. Cancellara captured the opening time trial a day earlier.
Cancellara has an 18-second lead over 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador of Spain. Bradley Wiggins of Britain is third, 19 seconds behind. Armstrong is 10th, 40 seconds back.
Tyler Farrar of the United States finished second and Romain Feillu of France was third in the 116-mile route from Monaco to Brignoles.
Armstrong said his strategy for this leg was “just avoid trouble and get in the rhythm of the race.”
The Tour rolls across the rim of the Mediterranean for mostly flat stages the next few days, with a challenging team time trial Tuesday. Three days in the demanding Pyrenees start in Stage 7.
Many riders groaned about the weather.
“The heat was like you were baking bread. … It was terrible,” Cancellara said on French TV.
The field will face a similar ride today, a 122-mile leg from the port city of Marseille to La Grande Motte. The stage is mainly flat in its last 65 miles and seems tailor-made for sprinters, especially with the hot weather expected.
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