Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stage 4 - Wednesday, July 11: Villers-Cotterêts - Joigny, 193km

As everyone who knows me/follows my blogs knows, I am a huge Sylvain Chavanel fan. So today was a treat for me, although of course I didn't get my hopes up. He spent most of the day in the break, so it was pretty enjoyable for me. Again, a flat stage, so relatively speaking not much happened. It seemed pretty certain that Cancellara was going to keep the yellow jersey for another day, barring any sort of catastrophe.

Eventually the break, which had been going on for what seemed like forever, was caught. It wasn't without a fight and the remains of the break held on for as long as they could, but the teams of the sprinters powered their way and soon nothing was left but empty roads, fresh for sprinters. The question was, of course, who was going to take the stage win.

Earlier in the stage, Versus had a SMS poll to pick the winner of the stage. I didn't text in, mostly because I was using my phone to text my friends and call my mother to give her race updates. But had I (and I seriously contemplated it), I'd have picked Hushovd. At the time, it would just have been a guess, but little did I know. Instead, though, I hoped that Chavanel would be KOM or at least try to win the stage. Neither of those happened, obviously (and it came out later that he'd refused to take the KOM because his teammate was in the jersey).

What did happen, though, was pretty damn exciting. After the break was caught, there was just enough time for the sprinters. But it wasn't Boonen or Zabel or McEwen. Instead it was my pick, Thor Hushovd. With the powerful Julian Dean as his leadout man, the man from Norway powered his way to the line. It was an extremely powerful and exciting win and I'm quite pleased with it. What was interesting, though, was the fact that Robbie Hunter was right up there in second place. And had he attacked a little sooner, I think, he'd have beaten Thor to the line. What happened, though, was that the line got there before he did, allowing Hushovd to take the win.

Overall it was a fun stage with a few tiny climbs, but it was really a day for the sprinters (and a surprise for them as well -- many of them ended up quite low as they crossed the line). Tomorrow should be more exciting, with a few more mountains.

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