Monday, July 17, 2006

Crashes in the Tour!

Yesterday, a fairly quiet sprint day with a bit of drama--prologue winner/slash victim Hushovd takes back the yellow jersey from American Hincapie by taking an intermediate sprint despite his sore stitched arm (Discovery and Hincapie don't want to waste energy defending it now, they want to get it back in the mountains), Matthias Kessler (a Jan Ullrich teammate) agonizingly swept up by the pack just 50 meters from the line, then Aussie Robbie "Pocket Rocket" (he's quite small for a sprinter) McEwen and yellow jersey Thor Hushovd accidentally make contact just before the line, Hushovd pops out of his pedal and Robbie takes the stage.

Today--disaster!--a major Tour contender out! On a damn hot day (99 degrees, 122 degrees reflected off the asphalt) on a perfectly good road, Robbie McEwen's crucial lead out man and all-around good guy American "Fast Freddy" Rodriguez and Dutchman Erik Dekker (wants the stage win today because it finishes in Holland, also retiring this year so would like the souvenir!) touch wheels for no other reason than sheer fatigue, hit the road hard, bust their collarbones and are out of the Tour--bad news for the Pocket Rocket. Then--even worse!--another tangle in the peloton!--like 5 guys go down--just fatigue and heat again--and brilliant Spaniard and serious possible overall Tour winner Alejandro Valverde, who beat Lance on a prestigious mountain stage win last year, goes down sharp and fast, snaps his collarbone and is out. Rats! On a happy note, dejected Matthias Kessler, who was caught 50 m from the line yesterday, successfully takes it today by just a few meters as the big sprinters misjudge the threat while they're jockeying for position near the line. The yellow jersey changes hands to big sprinter/3 day choker Belgian hearthrob Tom Boonen, when sore Thor Hushovd shleps in a few key seconds behind Boonen's main sprint group. Whew!

Damn. At this rate it'll be like the top 3 Americans and a couple of half-assed domestiques left at the home stretch in Paris!

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