Visé – Tournai (207.5km) Click for route map
Fairly recently we had a short holiday in the French Ardennes, following the route of the beautiful River Meuse as far as Dinant just over the border in Belgium. We would also have liked to have visited Namur but it was just a little too far from our base at Charleville-Mézières in France. Today there were great aerial views of the city of Namur with its massive Vauban built Citadelle high on a triangular vantage point as well as St Aubin’s Cathedral, Namur’s distinctive belfry and of course riverside walks. We must go back and follow the Meuse a little more on another occasion.
Another place worthy of mention today was the Ronquières inclined plane boat lift on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal, near the centre of the village of Ronquières and between Namur and today’s finish. Opened in 1968 there are two immense tanks of water, each with room for several barges at a time, which advance up and down an incline and replace the need for 18 locks. We have visited other impressive waterway features in France including the stepped lock system at Fonserannes on the Canal du Midi where there is also a plane boat lift, although we did not see it in action. We have also seen the aqueducts at Briare (River Loire Pont Canal) and Beziers (River Orb) plus the massive sea lock on the River Vilaine at Port d’Arzal Camoel, Morbihan, Brittany. These impressive feats of engineering make compulsive viewing and we certainly have to put Ronquières on our list!
It was great to see Mark Cavendish record his first 2012 Tour de France win today in an exciting sprint finish.
The top five of Stage 2
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) SKY 207.5km in 4h56’59”
2. Andre Greipel (GER) LTB
3. Matt Goss (AUS) OGE
4. Tom Veelers (NED) ARG
5. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) LAM
Team placings after Stage 2
1. Team Sky Procycling
Jerseys for Stage 3
Yellow – Cancellara
Green – Sagan
Polka Dot – Morkov
White – Van Garderen
For more information on the cyclists, their teams and how they were placed see the Tour de France official site.
Read my TDF posts covering this and previous years.