Mark Cavendish bounced back from his crash on the first stage of the Franco-Belge stage race to finish second behind Belgium?s Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) at the end of the 204km second stage to Templeuve on Friday.

Cavendish was given a strong lead out by his T-Mobile team mate Bernhard Eisel but Steegmans came past before the line to stop Cavendish taking his season tally to 11 wins. Australia?s Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) finished third with Robert Forster (Gerolsteiner) fourth and the USA?s Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) fifth.

Strong winds meant that the first hour of racing was covered at 48km/h with the peloton splitting into five echelons. A four rider attack including Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) Sébastien Chavanel (Franciase des Jeux)), Hervé Duclos Lassalle (Cofidis) and Frédéric Gabriel (Landbouwkrediet) formed after 107km and quickly opened a gap but the bunch and especially T-Mobile did not let them go clear, inspiring a serious chase on the finishing circuits around Templeuve.

Steve Cummings (Discovery Channel) attacked in the finale but only acted as something to chase for the bunch and was quickly pulled back. T-Mobile rode to set up Cavendish but Steegmans was faster in the sprint and gave Quick Step their 35th win of 2007. Cavendish gained some consolation by taking the lead in the best young rider competition.

Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) finished 31st on the stage after working for Cavendish. Dan Lloyd (DFL) was 44th and Steve Cummings (Discovery Channel) was 136th all in the same time, while Ian Stannard (T-Mobile) finished 164th at 4-48 after working early in the stage to chase the four-rider break.

Stage one winner Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Télécom) finished 12th in the sprint but kept the overall race lead. Steegmans is second on the same time but Clerc kept the leader?s jersey to better placings in the two stages. Australia?s Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole) is third sat one second. Cavendish is sixth at four seconds.

Saturday?s 194.6km stage is from Bray-Dunes in France to Poperinge in Belgium. The short stage race ends on Sunday.

Circuit Franco-Belge stage two. Photos by Luc Claessen

CIRCUIT FRANCO-BELGE 2007: STAGE TWO RESULTS
1 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel
4 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Cofidis
6 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Unibet.com
7 Aliaksandr Usov (Blr) Ag2r
8 Carlos Da Cruz (Fra) Française des Jeux
9 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
10 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel

OVERALL AFTER STAGE TWO
1 Aurelian Clerc (Bouygues Telecom)
2 Gert Steegmans (Quick Step)
3 Mark Renshaw (Credit Agricole)
British
6 Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile)
26 Roger Hammond (T-Mobile)
83 Daniel Lloyd (DFL)
92 Stephen Cummings (Discovery Channel)
165 Ian Stannard (T-Mobile)

RELEVANT LINKS
Stage one: Cav’s crash woe at Franco-Belge
Cavendish wants 11th win at Franco-Belge
Cavendish takes tenth win in Southampton
Cavendish wins Tour of Britain prologue
Cavendish wins Scheldeprijs

EXTERNAL LINKS
Official event website: circuitfrancobelge.lunarpark.be