Sunday, July 05, 2009

Stage 2: Monaco - Brignoles 187km

I didn't get to see as much of this stage as I would have liked because my parents were here and they wanted to watch the Wimbledon final on tv. I ended up going through several different streams with limited Eurosport audio (my audio of choice), so it was interesting. But I did get to see the final sprint, tennis-free (don't get me wrong, I love tennis, but I just love cycling more).

The second stage was, as far as I could tell, a good breakaway stage, followed up by a chaotic mass sprint. Of course, it's the Tour so chaotic sprints are par for the course. As one of the commentators said, it's not the Tour without a crash. The first one (that I saw) ended up not causing too many problems, but the ones in the build up to the sprint seemed to be a bit worse. Though the first rider to leave the race (Jurgen Van De Walle) wasn't involved in a group crash, but apparently something smaller. I hope he's okay.

Moving on. The breakaway battle hard, but were inevitably caught. Which is, predictably, how these things go. I have to admit that I wasn't paying as close attention as I would have liked. Granted, I watched a lot of the tour, but all the commentary I had was mostly tennis. The best part of the break was, of course, Finnish rider Jussi Veikkanen getting the KOM jersey. I always like it when relatively unknowns end up in top positions. Granted, the likelihood of him keeping it is probably slim, but for now, I think it's great. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he looks absolutely lovely in the red polka dots.

Then there was the sprint. Let me first say that there were several problems with the sprint. The first was that the organizers decided to use a route with far too much road furniture far too close to the sprint. So while the riders were speeding along, the peloton strung out, and the pace quite high, they had to navigate these ridiculous roundabouts and what have you. Which, fine, is totally par for the course, but I have to be honest, it seemed like most of the riders hadn't done their homework and were totally shocked about the stuff in the road. I mean, really guys. You're professionals, you should at least know that the sprint is going to be dangerous.

Lest you think I blame the crashes on the road furniture, I don't. I blame it on lack of awareness that lead to a bit of panic which itself led to the crashes. One touch of wheels and you're down. Because it was the final sprint, we didn't have a good angle on what caused the crash. But in the end, everyone (save the early abandon) crosses the line, more or less in one piece. The best part of the whole sprint was seeing a sprint train in action. I'll be honest, not since the days of Petacchi and Cipo has there been such a fantastic train. Columbia more than held their own and it was dramatic and awesome to see.

As so many others have said about this stage, who the hell is going to be able to stop Mark Cavendish from running away with the sprint jersey? I don't know that there's anyone who can. As much as I adore Cav, I'm a bigger Haussler fan, but I don't think he or Thor has a chance. Speaking of people who weren't sprinting well, where was Boonen? Not that I'm complaining too much, but seriously. It was also nice to see a Garmin rider get second today.

I don't know what's in store for tomorrow, and I haven't got any idea when I'll get to watch it. But it doesn't matter, because it's sure to be awesome. It's the Tour, after all.

Top 10 on Stage 2:
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC 4:30:02
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream

3 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel

4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team

5 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom

6 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram

7 William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom

8 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale

9 Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano

10 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Top 10 on GC:
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 4:49:34
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:18
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:00:19
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:22
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto 0:00:23
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:30
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 0:00:32
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC 0:00:33
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:00:37
10 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:40

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