Monday, July 04, 2011

July 4, Stage 3: Olonne-sur-Mer - Redon 198 km

It was a sprinter's day and to cut to the chase, a sprinter won. Not just any sprinter and definitely no the sprinter most people wanted to win. It was a true pleasure to see Tyler Farrar take this stage win for a number of reasons:

a) it was his first TDF stage win
b) it proved to his critics that he is good enough to win on the big stage
c) he won the stage for his best friend, Wouter Weylandt and we all remember what happened to Wouter
d) Garmin worked extraordinarily well as a team

And in reference to that last point, I was both delighted and surprised to see Thor Hushovd taking his turn in the lead out for Tyler. I would imagine there's been some animosity between Thor and Tyler, and why wouldn't there be? Obviously having two sprinters on your TDF team is never a good idea, but it seems, at least for this stage (and probably because Thor's in yellow), to be working. Top heavy teams are usually doomed to failure, so it's a nice change to see it working out. Now the question remains, will it last?

We also had the first real intermediate sprint contested today and it was ... Well, it was a mess. Not just because Cavendish and Thor were DQ'd for god knows what. But also because these are going to end in disaster before this tour's over. It was weird, I mean I knew there were sprint points coming up, but I didn't expect the fight for them to be, well, like a race finish. I know people love the excitement of stuff like that and don't get me wrong, I like it too. But come on. Sprint finishes are terrifying at best and dangerous at worst. And when you have something like a sprint finish in the middle of a stage? Recipe for disaster. There's no team organization, no lead outs, just a mass of riders battling with each other. It's no wonder that Thor and Cav were DQ'd, regardless of the real reason.

I like the idea of intermediate sprints, but I'm pretty sure they're not going to work. I hope that I'm proved wrong, but I'm not actually expecting to be. Bruised and batter sprinters do not a fun TDF make, not even when I dislike them. We'll see, though.

Thor's still in yellow, amusingly. And the top five haven't changed too much, which is fine with me. I'd kind of like to see Millar in yellow, honestly. Though I'm secretly annoyed as to the Schlecks being 7th and 8th. Easy rides, ugh. But, hey, it's only stage three so that means a lot can (and hopefully will) change. I'm glad, so far at least, that there was a TTT on the second stage and no prologue.

Stage four, which I won't get to see live, at least with sound for most of it, it a hilly stage, as they're called at the Tour. I hope to see someone like Sylvain do some attacking, but it might be too early for that. Probably some French riders on the French teams will head out soon after the race starts. I'm not sure it'll be a group finish, but you never know.

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