Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stage 7 - Friday, July 8: Luneville - Karlsruhe, 228.5 km

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Today's stage was for the German's. Almost. Robbie McEwen and Fabian Wegmann attacked, but McEwen soon realized that he probably shouldn't stick around as Fabian was showing no signs of getting caught and sat up. At one point, Wegmann was eight minutes or so ahead of the peloton. But, as luck would have it, the Germans would got yet another year without winning a stage in their home country.

Today, perhaps to make up for the crashes yesterday, the peloton was on fire. Though they miss the train of Fassa (really, who do you work for when Petacchi is not in the tour?), Lotto and Quickstep try to sort things out. But with so many teams (it's not just limited to those two, there are more: Liquigas, FDJ, and CA among others) trying to get their sprinters in position for the win, the peloton waits for no one. And quite a few riders discovered that. While Wegmann was out gathering points of the KOM jersey (which he won for the day), the peloton was riding as fast as it could (or that's how it seemed).

And the, before we noticed, Wegmann's lead had been cut in half. And it just kept on dropping. He tried -- he did managed to make it into Germany first. But he just couldn't hold them back. I don't even know how much of a chance he had. But then things got a little messy. There were a few crashes, tight quarters and all, but nothing that stopped the peloton as with yesterday. Fabian was captured (he sat up and blew a kiss at the camera, always with a sense of humor) and then the sprint began. It was a hard race to the line, so hard that a few riders (Allan Davis, Isaac Galvez and Angelo Furlan) fell hard. But that didn't stop the race. It was tight to the line, but it was Robbie McEwen who won the stage. And though he's counted himself out of the points for the green jersey, he's slowly reeling them (Thor and Tom) back in.

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Points classification
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step 133 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 122
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 96
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 91
5 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 75
6 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Domina Vacanze 73
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJ 69
8 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 60
9 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJ 59
10 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 58

Again, Lance remains in yellow. Tom still has the green, but only just. Tomorrow should be a test, as it's the mountains and we never know what will happen. Probably a testing of the waters and to see how the peloton will handle the first of the 'real' climbs. I hope it's more exicting than a few of the stages. I also wonder how fast it will be, probably not as fast since there are mountains at the beginning and the end.

Well, the best part of today was, of course, the Gerolsteiner rider, Fabian Wegmann, winning the KOM jersey in his home country. Way to go, boy. And good luck on stage eight.

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