As if the weather could get any worse ... Rain for most of the day and crashes everywhere.
Most people didn't find the stage exciting, even many of the OLN crew. But I did. I think that it's because I watch cycling for cycling (among other things). I just like watching them ride down the road. It's probably why I need to be able to watch the race from the end of each stage, instead of out on the road. I like to see the whole thing (not that French TV does that great a job -- I'd blame OLN, but it's not their video, just a feed). But I didn't mind so much today, because, among other things, I like Brioches La Boulangere and, of course, FDJeux.com a lot and since Sandy and Thomas were part of the break (see above picture), it was exciting to be able to watch them.
Ahh, the break. They worked hard. They already had a 15-minute advantage by the time OLN's coverage started, so it was fun to watch them get down to something that would have been reasonable to catch, and then escape again.
And, oh, the crashes. So many. I was shocked and worried. People just kept falling and falling. And, even at the end, just when you thought everything would work out, BAM and down they all went. So painful. Phil and Paul said that it was probably like riding across sheets of ice. Poor Robbie went down as well, but still managed to hang onto the points classification for just one day.
Among the sad events, Maryan Hary just couldn't make it before the time. He was following Brad McGee at the back of the peloton for part of the race. Which leads me to the other heart breaking event, poor Brad. He finally gave up. Back injury and, probably, semi-bad form just did him in and he abandoned. So sad, and so bad for the morale of the team. He said, on his site that I never imagined I would ever quit the tour. Finishing the tour is like breathing......you just do it. Yet here I am, on my way home after 5 stages.. Makes me sad. I'll miss Brad.
But, not all was lost. Sandy Casar was in that long breakaway and is third overall, which is quite nice. And, oh, the story of the day, though. The lovely Thomas Voeckler. His wildest dreams came true, along with a great day for France. The young (25-year old) Frenchman did wonders and managed to get a 10 minute gap over our race leader, Lance. I'm so proud of Thomas. French National Champion and now wearing the yellow jersey. I hope he keeps it until the mountains.