In lieu of a post about Stage Nine (I'm still a little bummed about the results, so I'll sit on it a bit longer), I'll make up for my lack of posting yesterday.
Ten days of the tour and so far I've found it to be exciting, worrisome and irritating. There are things that tick me off, but I'm not going to go there. I'm sure there will continue to be annoying things and I'll will probably keep complaining about them. But this entry? I'm going to talk about the things that make me happy.
The Top Five:
1. Thomas Voeckler
The 25-year-old French National Champion has won my heart. He didn't expect the jersey, he's fallen for it (so beautifully, I might add) and he's still a little surprised each time he puts it on. As if he doesn't quite believe it's real. That first day, after the amazing break, you could just see how unbelievable it was. He's even quoted as saying that the jersey "just fell into his lap." And, even more impressive, is the fact that his team -- even though they don't have a contract for next year -- has backed him up the whole way. They've done their stint at the front and continue to do it. I'm proud of them.
2. Matthew Wilson
How could I not mention him? After all, he is my favorite rider. The first few days after the prologue were tough. He spent a lot of time helping Brad, even tough, in the end, Brad just couldn't go on. Nothing says teamwork like spending your days at the back of the race helping out your teammates. Then, after spending himself helping Brad, he manages to get up front in at least two of the past four stages. He's been pushing the speed and doing a great lead out for Baden. His positive and optimistic attitude is catching. One of these days, Baden's just going to beat them all.
3. Thor and Tom.
I have to say that they are two of the strongest sprinters out there. Both had caught my eye long before the tour started, but it's been nice to see them both win stages. Especially Tom. I know he badly wanted to win in Belgium and I was sad that he didn't that chance. But it's nice to see the team still working for him, leading him out until they have to start helping Richard.
As for Thor? What a go for the boy from Norway. I was proud when he got the yellow jersey, and then green. And now that he's won a stage? So impressive. I hope he keeps giving Stuey and Robbie a run for their money. A good day for the champion of Norway.
4. Fassa Bortolo
As much as I wanted Petacchi to win one stage, I'm almost glad he's gone. Though I'm not happy that he might not make the Olympics, but that's for later. It gives these young boys a chance to kick it into high gear. But, how lucky for his teammates that they've been able to pull out these wins. Most impressive performances from Fabian and Pippo. There was a great picture at cyclingnews of both boys together. Making FB proud. It would have been nice if Flecha and Kirchen had been able to hold their own for the wins, but it was not meant to be. Such is life.
5. USPS and Phonak
Again giving a new meaning to team (although in my eyes, no one is as much a team as the FDJ Aussies). Both teams have come through when it counted. Both during the team time trial. USPS during the crashes and the cobbles. And, of course, Phonak through the crashes and all of their bike problems. I wish Tyler and Lance and their teams the best of luck. I hope Lance makes it to six and that Tyler doesn't fall off again. Oh yeah, and Tyler is so winning a mountain stage this year.
And that's all, except for the runners up.
6. CSC - Jens, Jakob and the team time trial.
7. Sandy Casar - the boy never gives up. He's giving hope to FDJ. I hope he keeps that white jersey.
8. Rene, Sven, Sam, and all the other crash victims - My heart goes out to them. As for Rene? It turns out he has internal injuries as well. I hope he gets better soon.
9. Paolo (and hopefully Richard) - The KOM jersey looks good on him. I hope it goes seamlessly to Richard. Seven, baby!
10. Paul and Phil - For putting up with all that crap from Al. And for entertaining me endlessly. Oh yeah, and for overusing the word 'undulation.' They must have said it at least 10 times on today's stage.
Well, that's all. I'm sure I'll have an even longer list during the next rest day. And sometime tonight I'll post my reaction to stage nine.