It’s the first rest day for the Tour de France, and I thought I would give you a bit of an update on what has been happening. I won’t go in to too much detail, because if you wanted it, you’re already following along on someone else’s Tour blog (hopefully mine!).
Franco Cancellara took the step up to be Tour leader on the first day, winning the Time Trial around the streets of London. Amazingly, he only just lost it at the end of stage 7 after some fantastic riding that kept him in touch with the peloton throughout the intermediate stages leading up to the climbs.
Stage 1 saw one of the toughest victories you would have seen in cycling for the past decade or so, with Robbie McEwan of Australia coming back from a crash that kept him off the lead pack until 7 kilometers from the finish line. It was at this point he ditched his team, and made a harebrained sprint through a field of 150 riders on narrow roads, to finally come screaming out of the front of the field with 400 meters to go, and take the stage win.
It was pretty much standard over the next couple of days, with small man breakaways being caught within a few kilometers (or hundreds of meters) of the finish line and letting riders like Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd claim stage wins. We saw some wonderful team riding from Julian Dean that allowed Thor to take a stage win and some much needed Green Jersey points.
Stage 5 saw one of the first of the major crashes of the Tour, with Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov going down and losing a heap of time. Vinokourov went in to the tour as the overall favorite to win, and is now sitting at twenty-second overall, with a time difference of 5 minutes and 23 seconds.
Stage 7 saw some compelling riding from youngster Linus Gerdemann, who
pushed himself up the last climb of the day, breaking those who had
been riding with him and allowing Gerdemann to race down the backside
of the climb to take a courageous stage win. He subsequently took over
the Yellow Jersey, and the White Jersey signifying the best young rider
of the tour
Stage 8 was the best to date, and Michael Rasmussen, my favorite rider and the man tipped to win the King of the Mountain classification for the third year in a row take not only the Polka Dot Jersey but also the Yellow Jersey. Sadly though, it also saw the exit of three Australians, Stuart O’Grady to a nasty crash that left him with multiple injuries including a broken collarbone, five broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken shoulderblade and “some bones in his spine”. Thankfully, he is resting comfortably in hospital and has suffered no damage to his spine.
Rasmussen’s stage win was another of his infamous “Chicken Runs”, named for his thin wiry legs and his tendency to be able to ride an entire mountain stage, breaking anyone who even thinks of riding with him, and taking not only a stage win but the points for King of the Mountain. I think Frank Steele said it best on his Tour de France blog at tdfblog.com when he labeled the stage in his summary; Stage 8: Chicken Run 3: The Dane Reigns.
And that’s it for right now. We’ve lost several riders so far, either due to crashes such as O’Grady or T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz who suffered a bizarre crash that has left a spectator in a coma, withdrawals from riders who know that they have done their bit prior to the rigors of the mountains, and eliminations such as Robbie McEwan, favorite for the Green Jersey, who fell far enough behind on stage 8 to be eliminated.
But, even as an Aussie with only one hope left in the field, this Tour de France is shaping up to be a race to remember. Rasmussen is gonna make his name heard again as he traverses the Alps and the Pyrenees. So make sure you catch at least some of 2007’s Tour de France, otherwise you will be regretting it when it’s all over when the fat lady sings.
Posted by Josh Hill
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