No, not me posting about the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish proving that when it comes to winning bike races in the last 100m there’s nobody better.
There was just so much good about today’s stage for anyone who’s a cycling nut, hard roads and the promise of tough crosswinds kept the peloton nervous and on-edge* which resulted is several crashes and saw former Belgian Champ Tom Boonen out of the back and bloodied, chasing hard to make the time cut.
Radioshack’s Janez Brajkovic and Euskatel’s Ivan Velasco were not so lucky, both sustaining broken collar bones and retiring from the Tour.
The day’s major break was chased down to a lead of 30seconds by the Garmin team containing Julian Dean before they quit the chase and allowed the leaders to dangle off the front, before junction was finally made with 45km remaining. Then with the sprinters’ teams all looking at each other Thomas Voeckler and Jeremy Roy decided to try for the stage. With the catch imminent, Voeckler jumped again for a solo victory, displaying the guts and attitude that makes him so popular with his French fans but to no avail.
A chaotic final kilometer ensued with no team able to control the peloton, Sky’s Ben Swift went early in an attempt to vindicate his selection over Greg Henderson and then with a tough uphill finish seemingly going the way of first day-winner Gilbert, Cavendish kicked and went from 10th to first in the last 50m to gain his first win of this year’s race. Phew.
Tomorrow’s stage takes us through places whose names will be familiar to anyone with an interest in WW2 history, or who has ever seen Band of Brothers…Avranches, with its Sherman Tank proudly sitting in Patton Square and Falaise where 50,000 German soldiers were surrounded and captured by the Allies in the “pocket” which takes its name from the town.
Look out for some great aerial shots of the Peloton with Mont St Michel in the background in the early stages (if Sky deign to give us the pictures) too.
We seem set for another sprint finish in the pilgrimage town of Lisieux, Aussie’s Robbie McEwan being a former winner here, who would bet against “Cav” with his tail up this time?
*Crosswinds force the riders to form in "echelons" as the shelter is behind and to one side of the rider in front of you. This often results in the peloton splitting into smaller bunches and can result in serious time losses if you're not in the front one.