Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stage 6 - Friday, July 13: Semur-en-Auxois - Bourg-en-Bresse, 199.5km

Today was the third day a Cofidis rider was in a breakaway. But unlike stages four and five, there was only one rider in the break, Bradley Wiggins. He worked extremely hard and I would definitely have liked to see him win the stage. Sadly, that was not to be for a number of reasons. The main one, of course, is that a solo breakaway for almost the whole stage doesn't lend itself to winning a stage. It would have been wonderful had he managed to hold off the peloton, but the day before the mountains? It was next to impossible and in the end, that's just what it was.

But, hats off to Wiggins. He was fun to watch and gave Cofidis a lot of TV time, which was lovely of course. Not much else happened in the stage, there was a bit about Tom Simpson, who died forty years ago. I don't recall if they talked about him during the live stage coverage, but on the extended coverage (which I am watching as I write this), they discussed it a bit.

The peloton chased hard, harder than maybe people expected, but it made sense. This was the last flat stage for a while and the sprinters wanted their day. The question wasn't whether they'd catch Wiggins, but when. And when they did, the next question was which team would lead the sprint. I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed in the lead outs the teams have produced this year. Perhaps I'm spoiled, having watched Cipo and Ale-Jet, but there's nothing quite like their trains.

I know QS has tried, as do the other teams and there are few riders (ex: Julian Dean) who have excelled at leading out their sprinters. But on the whole, the lead outs have sucked. I think that it makes sprint to the finish a lot more dangerous, but at the same time it makes it a lot more exciting. It's how McEwen won and, really, how Cancellara won his second stage. Chaotic sprints really make flat stages something to look forward too -- even while it scares the hell out of me.

There were no crashes in the final sprint, it was a straight out sprint. And, much to a lot of people's surprise, it was Boonen who won. I wasn't rooting for him, but then again, I was kind of glad to see that he hadn't lost his legs (though I believe he stated otherwise at one point). I know that he had a decent lead out, but nothing really special. And there were a lot of sprinters who were fighting their way to the line. But it was Boonen who finally came out on top and, deservedly so, pulled on the green jersey (I was sad to see it come off of Zabel's shoulders, though).

Cancellara kept his yellow jersey and Chavanel kept his KOM jersey (much to my glee). Tomorrow will be interesting and I look forward to watching it.

No comments: