Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stage 12: Tonnerre - Vittel 211.5km

I finally got to see most of a stage! The first time since Sunday, which isn't really saying much because the last time was Sunday. Regardless, it turned out to be a fascinating stage, tactically speaking. What we didn't see live was that Evans and A. Schleck attempted to join a breakaway. I know, I know, they're doing it to try and gain time, but REALLY. I do not support such things because it's not fair to the boys in the break. Yes, I know that they had to true, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. But, moving on now.

The breakaway was eventually seven riders, including the stage winner, Niki Sörensen. The stage wasn't that eventful, except for a crash or two(?) with a dog. I don't know any details, though. When the stage started, the Versus commentators all agreed that it was likely going to be a stage for the sprinters -- in that they all picked sprinters to win. But, amusingly, that's not what happened. This break of seven kept on racing hard, pushing as much as they good to see how the peloton would react and ... it barely did. Eventually it seemed clear that if the peloton didn't step up, the break would survive, and that's exactly what happened.

Which meant that we turned out focus to who, out of those seven riders, was going to win. It turned out to be a joy to watch because Niki Sörensen, who was a bit late joining the break early in the stage, did everything right. He attacked the breakaway near the end of the stage and just took off. He played at tactics and held everyone off. All remaining six breakaway riders finished before the peloton, which eventually came in almost 6 minutes later. What surprised me, and ended up making me really happy, was that Columbia changed their tactics.

Cavendish took eight place, in front of Hushovd and a Lampre rider, which might have been a surprise (attacking without the chance to win the stage, really, Cav?), except for one thing. Early on in the stage, at the 32k mark, Cavendish attacked briefly to win a six sprint points. It was then that it seemed pretty obvious that Columbia and Cavendish had decided to keep the Green jersey by any means necessary (within reason, of course). This pleased me greatly, and so when we got to the finish, I was a bit anxious. Would Cav attack? Would Farrar or Hushovd try to steal the points? In the end, it was Thor who tried to out smart Cav, but as Columbia has proved, time and again, they are definitely the strongest.

Cav gathered another sixteen points head of Thor, giving him a bit more lead on the Green jersey. When the Versus reporter interviewed Cav after the race, he was asked if he was worried more about getting through the mountain stages or about winning on the Champs-Élysées. Cav's answer was hilarious. He basically said he'd have no problems with the mountains and was only worried about winning the final stage. It was so totally a Cavendish response that I completely loved it. Hopefully he's right, because I want to see Cav in green on the final day.

Nothing changed with any of the jerseys, except that there were a few more points added in both the green and kom competitions. It was a fun stage, especially the end. Tomorrow is the start of the Alps and I am so ready for those damn mountains. Hopefully the stage won't run too long, as I've got to leave for work at 11:30 am ET. It should be exciting!

1 comment:

cwhite said...

G.H.'s chickens came home to roost in Besancon today. He seemed so shocked to be let down.