Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Stage 4 - Tuesday, July 5: Tours - Blois TTT, 67.5 km

I suppose I should start by talking about the amazing job that the Discovery channel did, beating CSC and T-Mobile to the line. But I'm not sure I agree. I do think that both T-Mobile and Discovery (along with several other teams) rode extremely well, but I think CSC could have (and should have) won. Except for one small error. A rookie mistake, as it were.

So, instead of talking about how amazing the stage was, I'll talk about Dave Zabriskie.

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(photos from yahoo)

My heart goes out to him. It looks bad in that picture, but it was much, much worse to watch in real time. One second Dave was powering along and the next he was on the pavement. I have to admit to being slightly scared that he was going to be more seriously hurt. According to Reuters, Dave doesn't have any broken bones, but "[he] hit the ground in the final two kms, hurt his knee and needed stitches in a cut to his right arm." It's really not fair, but probably his fault.

It appears that he touched wheels with the teammate in front of him and crashed. At first we thought he'd run into the barrier, but after the replay it was clear that's not what happened. I thought he'd run over something (bottles and papers tend to end up on the course), but even Lance said it was probably just a mistake. Even so, it was a costly one and it just breaks my heart.

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Onto the rest of the race. There were some good times turned in, the third best by T-Mobile. Very impressive, actually. It was nice to finally see T-Mobile working as a team, though Tobias Steinhauser didn't quite make it to the finish with the team. It seemed that almost all the teams (aside from Disocvery, of course) lost at least one rider along the route. It was long and the turns at the end were vicious. I am surprised that Zabriskie was the only rider who fell.

It looks like everyone finished the stage, though. Which is really nice, especially since the full peloton has lost at least a few riders by now. This year, though? All 189 riders are still going, hopefully strong.

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The strongest team, it seems, is again Lance's team, just with a different name. While the green jersey and kom both stayed the same (Boonen and Dekker respectively), the youngest rider jersey changed hands, along with the yellow. Both, of course, to Discovery riders. Yaroslav Popovych, heralded as the next big thing (as well as a possible successor to Armstrong), finished with the best young rider time, 40 seconds ahead of Luis Leen Sanchez of Liberty Seguros.

Of course, now the yellow jersey is in the hands of Lance Armstrong. He looked comfortable putting the jersey on, and who can blame him? It suits him, though I'm not really sure I want him to win any more. Discovery beat CSC by two seconds. If Dave hadn't crashed, perhaps they would have been tied for first. Or, as Bjarne Riis said on cyclingnews, he thought they were probably racing for the win, not second. And I happen to agree with him. But, sadly, it was the crash that made all the difference.

I hope that Dave is all right, I don't want him to abandon his first tour (although that wouldn't be a first for cycling). But I'm proud of his team for riding as hard as they did, trying to salvage the win. It's too bad they couldn't. But, as I said on my cycling blog, there's always tomorrow. Or next year.

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I suppose there was more I could have written about today's stage, but mostly it disappointed me. Hopefully tomorrow won't be as unfortunate.

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