Disclaimer: I saw this stage on mute while at work and the final sprint (with sound) on Versus, while flipping to the Weather Channel to keep track of a thunderstorm.
Of course, that means I got to see the most important part with sound, and that's mostly what I want to talk about. But first, let's talk about other things on the stage. It was a sprinter's stage, of course, no surprise there. And we had a break that didn't survive. They gave it a really great effort and I like to see that. I especially liked how the two remaining riders, Stephane Augé (Cofidis) and Jose-Alberto Benitez (Footon-Servetto), shook hands right before they were caught. That's a good kind of sportsmanship and I totally approve of that. I think that, perhaps, the peloton needs a bit more respect for each other. Of course, that takes the fun out of it and I guess if you're a sprinter, you can't quite muster up that much respect, since you have to beat ass all the time.
The stage was like most sprint stages. Breakaway, break caught, attacks and sprint to finish. The best part of the stage, for me, was Sylvain's ill fated attack. I don't even know if it was ill-timed or just doomed, but I didn't expect it to last and it didn't. But it sure was fun while it was happening. And then came the drama. Oh, the drama on the stage was out of this world in all the best ways. You see, I love drama in all it's forms. Even when it makes me angry and livid and upset and miserable. Because without drama, this sport wouldn't be half as much fun as it is now. And this year's tour has something like 10 times as much drama and it is so great that sometimes I don't know what to do with myself.
So, the basics: Cavendish won the sprint. I booed and turned off my coverage and did work (at work) so I missed the drama the first time around, but boy did I hear about it (and upset people!). See, the thing is that I'm a firm believer that sports aren't fair, at all, including cycling. And once I accepted that (and the fact that all cyclists dope), I could completely enjoy the sport again, it was very refreshing -- even though I still get angry. And in addition, I don't like Cav so anything that slows him down (even if it's just in theory) can only be a good thing. That being said, what the judges did was ridiculous. For those of you who want a recap, basically Mark Renshaw was an idiot. He headbutted Julian Dean three times (yes, three) and then decided it'd be fun to look back, see Tyler Farrar and then totally veer off his (Mark's) line and block Tyler from doing anything.
Taken separately, each infraction is just that. But the problem is that twofold: you can't take the two events separately because they were perpetrated by the same cyclist and Mark Renshaw is not the sprinter. Sure, he's good at sprinter, but it's clear that his goal was not, in fact, to win the race. I've seen a few discussions about the incident and most of them don't seem to address the fact that Renshaw wasn't trying to win the stage. It's clear from past practices that cycling authorities let a lot of crap go, we've seen that already in this tour. As someone on a community I run said, there's a lot of inconsistency. But I have to say, I don't really care. Why? Because I'm also a football (soccer) fan and this shit happens all the time. Take two of the teams I was supporting at the World Cup (the biggest sporting event in the history of sports), the United States had several bad calls and Australia and two players sent off for ridiculous reasons. It happens and it's not fair, that's life.
My thoughts are that the referees made a bad call. It happens, everyone needs to get over it at move on. Mark Renshaw and Columbia need to accept what happened and deal with the consequences. If they -- if Mark -- can't handle it, then maybe he needs to try not do headbutt and block other cyclists. Of course it was going to be an overreaction, but that's the way sports goes. The best way to deal with it is to just move on, or, you know, enjoy it. Which is what I'm doing. Perhaps that makes me a bad person and a crazy fan, but I've never claimed to be anything else.
Once you accept that sports aren't fair, your life as a fan gets a lot easier.
Tomorrow ends on Montée Laurent Jalabert, if a Frenchman wins that would be brilliant. My hope is Sylvain or JP, but I don't know. I just want more awesome. Oh, and speaking of awesome. I totally forgot that Pettachi got the green jersey back. Not bad for an old man. Love it.