Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Well the Hell of the North certainly added to the excitement of the opening to this Tour de France. I've never seen an opening three stages being so tough and it certainly is making looking forward to the other 17 days of racing. Somehow yesterday may have been a day to wait, but today it was pedal to the medal and hope that your bike holds up to task at hand.
However, one of the contenders Frank Schleck ended up by the side of the road with a broken collar bone on the cobbles, the cyclist's worst nightmare. Falling while near the head of the race, the ideal place to ride the pavé. However, he fall led to confusion behind. But at the head of the chase pack Fabian Cancellara, yesterday's slow it down man, pushed the pace. The younger Schleck brother Andy his Saxobank teammate was with him, as well as Cadal Evans. But other tour contenders Alberto Contador, Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong were dropped.
There were numerous bike changes and more that he needed for the unfortunate man in yellow Slyvain Chavanel. He kept having mechanical issues and having to change his bike. Even the master Lance Armstrong had to pursuit back to the chasing pack after a mechanical issue. His teammate Yaroslav Popovych buried himself for the cause and when he had given his all and the gap was still there it was Lance himself who fought through the cars to catch those ahead.
Thor Hushovd did take the sprint at the end of the race, beating a British sprinter into second. But not Mark Cavendish he was some way back, however Gerraint Thomas on his debut tour now has a second place finish, is second in the Green Jersey behind Hushovd and leader in the young rider jersey. So the British national jersey will not be on display tomorrow and hopefully for some time, tour colours take precedent. But being 23 seconds off the lead shows that for Sky there really is no limit to their expectations.
Wiggins while not in the leading group only lost 53 seconds to them. But more importantly made time over Contador and Armstrong 2o secs and 1 min 15 secs further back.
While Hushovd got maximum points in the sprint Mark Cavendish picked up his first one, yes only one when he trundled over the line 4th in a big group 2'08" back. I hope he doesn't live to rue those other 3 points on the Champs-Élysées on the 25th.
Tomorrow is meant to be a tame day but we've said that before. Here is the route.