I've spent a lot of time not thinking about this stage. My first, and very persistent, reaction, was that of irritation. I am, if nothing else, annoyed that Robbie won the stage. Yes, I know he's an amazing bike handler. I know he's very skilled and quite strong. But I do not want him to win -- sure, as a bike rider he's proven that he can and deserves to win stages. But after his behavior on stage three, it seems he is consistently a man of poor sportsmanship.
(photos from getty)
He has proven, time and again, that he is able to win or place highly without being reduced to disruptive antics. And yet he persists on behaving as if he owns the road and should be able to do whatever he wants, damn the consequences, in order to win.
I acknowledge that he is not built like Tom Boonen and nor does he have the team support of Alessandro Petacchi. But he does have some support, unlike Erik Zabel and there is not inter-team rivalry, such as that between Baden Cooke and Bernhard Eisel. In other words, there is absolutely no excuse for Robbie's actions. Sure, it might be written off because he is an Australian and they have a reputation of sorts. But look at the peloton, perhaps the only Aussie (that I've know about) to be accused of such behavior (aside, of course, from Robbie) was Baden Cooke. And (correct me if I'm wrong) it was Robbie who accused him.
I'm not saying Robbie shouldn't have won the stage (no matter how much I wish he hadn't), just that maybe he should stop behaving like an inexperienced cyclist.
As for the rest of the stage? It was, aside from the occasional crash, uneventful. Unlike previous breaks, no one of any real consequence overall was present. Although that wasn't too surprising, considering that it was an early stage. Another factor was that the break was just that, nothing extraordinary. Two days ago the break contained Erik Dekker and it was easy to cheer him on, even though he didn't win. And on stage two, the 2004 TdF French darling, Thomas Voeckler, was in the break. Today there were four cyclists, including Juan Antonio Flecha who is often in breaks. And though I randomly choose to cheer for the Liquigas rider (Kjell Carlstrom), I never really felt as if they had much of a chance. And then the stage ended in a mildly exciting, if disappointing sprint.
I had this whole section written up about Lance choosing not to wear the yellow jersey until he was forced to, but I'm not going to type it up. It's not that I really feel like he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart, but I think that perhaps he was trying to make a statement. And, well, I like Dave Zabriskie, so I won't diminish what he's done by filling this post with my angst about Lance.
Lance was in yellow, stayed in yellow and managed to keep out of trouble. Tom Boonen is still in the green jersey, but Thor is creeping closer and Robbie, though he seems to be out of the running, is never far behind. Perhaps one of these days we'll have a sprint that doesn't involve Robbie or Tom. I'm glad the stage is over, may tomorrow's stage prove to be more exciting (though I'll be watching it on tape Friday afternoon).