Sadly, a French win on Bastille day was not to be. The first attacks, which I happened to be awake to see, didn't even involve French riders. Eventually two French riders, one from BBox and the other from AG2R, attacked. They caught up with the four non-French riders to make up a 6 man breakaway. It was my kind of stage, but sadly I did miss parts of it and had to watch the final 10k without sound because of work (and my recording stopped at noon and the race didn't finish until 12:30, annoying). It was just as well, because the results of the stage really annoyed me because I was rooting for one of the two French riders to win. Sadly, it was not to be. Instead, it was Radio Shack rider Sergio Paulinho who took the stage.
It was only Paulinho and Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne) who seemed able to fight to the end. The remaining four riders drifted back, unable to keep up. Two came in almost a minute and a half back, the other two took longer. The only real change, aside from Nicholas Roche moving from 17th to 13th, was the KOM jersey changed hands. Again. And it went back to Jerome Pineau and you guys have no idea how happy that makes me. I didn't even know how much I cared until he lost the jersey. What else happened on this stage? Apparently there was a decently bad crash with a few injuries, but nothing really serious after that. Aside from the KOM and Roche going up four places, nothing else changed. Schleck is still in yellow (and white), Hushovd is still in green (though there were a few points taken) and I'm hoping for a miracle, because Robbie McEwen is still racing. This makes me happy (probably for all the wrong reasons, but too bad).
So, what is it about these stages that I like? Mostly it's the scenery and the idea that the breakaway might stay away. And why do I like the latter? Mostly because I come a family who almost always roots for the underdogs (I'm a fan of teams from Cleveland, what do you expect?). I especially like it when there's someone I like in the break (and I'm not just talking about Sylvain). Sandy Casar, for example. Sadly, none of the riders I was cheering for (the French) won the stage and of course I found it annoying that a Radio Shack rider won the stage, but that's why you have to be able to take a step back. Especially if you're me, because you end up getting hung up on all the stuff you don't like and forgetting why you're a fan in the first place. It's hard to do, I know. And I tend to find it harder than others because I'm exceptionally good at holding grudges (and I don't forgive easily, it took me seven years to forgive Robbie McEwen for ... basically doing what sprinters do) and I tend to dislike way, way more than I like. It's ridiculous, I know, but it's the way I am.
And that's why I like these stages, because you can hold out hope. Breaks in the mountains are far more fun, like today's stage. Because the chances of the peloton going after them (especially if there's no threat to the yellow jersey) tend to be low and this gives little known riders (and breakaway specialists) a chance for glory. Sometimes it works out, like today, and sometimes it doesn't. But by the far the worst is when the break almost makes it and the peloton catches them at the least second. We'll probably have a few more of those, though I hope not. The other reason, which I mentioned but didn't talk about was the scenery. It's the one reason my dad doesn't always mind watching the Tour. France (and the other countries the race travels through) is beautiful and the TdF gives us some of the best views of France. Especially for those of us who can't get there (at least not yet), it's fun to see it from afar. Today's stage was quite good for that kind of thing.
Tomorrow's stage starts with a cat 3 mountain and then is mostly flat until the finish. I imagine we'll have a break, but it won't last because the sprinters will want to get some points. My hope is that Robbie McEwen shocks us all and wins the stage. Chances are high that won't happen, but a girl can dream, right?