For those of us (by us I mean me) who like flat stages (in addition to everything else) and breakaways, today was another great day. I have to confess that the highlight was watching Matt, after getting stuck in the wrong half of a peloton split, rejoin and then get back up front to work for Baden. If only there had been an actual sprint. Not that 16th is bad for Baden, but still. I was hoping (though I'd picked Erik Zabel for the day, little did I know ...).
The lack of major crashes was good, except it hurt to watch Sven Montgomery. I don't really know what happened, except that it sounded like Sven and a Cofidis (can't they stay out of trouble?) rider crashed. We (the OLN audience) got to watch poor Sven be examined (his collarbone, of course) then get back on his bike, ride for less than a minute, and then wave his hand for the team car. He pulled off the road in tears, unable to continue. It was (to overuse my favorite word) heartbreaking. He's started the tour four times and never finished. Rene and Sven seem to have such bad luck in the tour. Although maybe it's just stage races for Sven, as I believe he also crashed out of the Giro this year.
Well. The rest of the race was fun to watch. I liked CSC cranking the peloton and splitting it with help from the wind. The second break contained (besides Matt, of course) the green jersey, Stuart O'Grady, and I was worried that Stuey wasn't going to make it. But Cofidis and Credit Agricole, with a little help from Saeco (I still can't believe Gibo didn't quit, but that's for another entry.) pulled the peloton back together. And therefore Stuey had enough time over Robbie to keep the green.
I didn't get to see a lot of the early breaks, which is frustrating because I think two FDJ (including Bernhard) attempted. But it was still fun to watch Dekker and Marichal go at it. Although, I wasn't really rooting for the breakaways, not even for Fabian Cancellara's, and I like him a lot. But, eventually, one of the breaks stuck. And there, almost out of nowhere, came Filippo "Pippo" Pozzato. I thought Iker Flores was going to take it (and was all bummed because my mom really likes Euskaltel - Euskadi), but there was no stopping Pippo.
Before I go on, I'd like to point out that Pippo is wearing a yellow bracelet. Mine should be coming in the mail soon, and you all (if you don't already have them) should buy some. When I get mine, I'll write up why I have one. But yes, Livestrong.
Anyway. It was a good finish, not at all dangerous, which made me really happy. I think if the final break had been riding a bit more conservatively, there would have been more risks taken by the peloton to catch them and might have resulted in some crashes. But the weather was good and the peloton, while not organized, it was controlled. Speaking of organized. A lot of the sprinters' teams did a good job, just not enough. CA and FDJ in particular. I noticed Fassa up there too, which made me miss Petacchi even more.
Happy note of the day? Even though he struggled a bit on the short (really short) mountains during the stage, Thomas kept his jersey. I hope he keeps it for a while longer.
PS. Would it be too much to ask for an FDJ stage win? Please?