Monday, 4 July 2011

TDF Stage 3 American wins on Independence Day

Tyler Farrar winning a stage in the 2010 Giro d'Italia
Stage three took out out of the Vendée who have thrown up an exciting and interesting start of the Tour. There are already time gaps between the big names that will lead to an interesting times in the mountains.

There was a five man breakaway Mickaël Delage (FDJ), Iván Gutiérrez (MOV), Niki Terpstra (QST), Perez Moreno (EUS) and Borut Bozic (VDM). They went away at 2km into the stage and at the crossing from le Vendée to Brittany that was the order they crossed over. As there was only one point at the top of the bridge Côte du Pont de Saint Nazaire, the only bridge to be a categoried climb in this year's Tour does that make Delage the King of the Bridges for this year.

The intermediate sprint as I said earlier would be interesting. HTC did take an interest and Mark Cavendish served them well in taking 6th place (first of the peleton) and all 10 points that he could have taken.

But the group finally got caught at the 9 km to go spot. Although Delage and Gutiérrez had tried to go it alone leaving the other three. But HTC had formed a chain on the right hand side of the peleton. They seem to have read the route map as there was a sharp turn followed by a long sweep both going that way.

In the end Bernie Eisel, led Tony Martin, Matt Goss and Mark Cavendish with about 4 km to go. But there was a lack of the full HTC team train. Which lead to themrunning out of men in the last km But the Yellow Jersey on Thor Hushovd (GRM) and the White Jersey on Geraint Thomas (SKY) were both leading out their men. But on the last corner the Sky sprinter pushed Jose Rojas (MOV)almost hit the inside barrier swerved out into Cavendish's path, he took his foot out to steady himself. But as Tyler Farrar (GRM) headed to an Independence Day celebration on the line in front of Romain Feillu (VCD), Rojas, Sebastian Hinault (ALM) up came the recovered Manx Missile for fifth.

Crossing the line Farrar made a W with his fingers in honour of his team mate Wouter Weylandt who died following a descent on the 3rd Stage of this year's Giro d'Italia.

Geraint Thomas looked over his should noticed his man was not there and sat up while well ahead, but coasted in for 15th spot. One wonders what he could have done if he raced to the line.

There was no change in the GC. But the Green Jersey got interesting, the current standings are:

1. Jose Rojas Movistar 64 pts
2. Tyler Farrar Garmin-Cevélo 58
3. Thor Hushovd Garmin-Cevélo 54
4. Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma-Lotto 51
5. Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad 37
6. Romain Feillu Vacansoleil-DCM 36
7. Cadel Evans BMC 35

Farrar didn't sprint for the intermediate and picked up no points he may well have been in Green if he had contested.

Update I've since learnt that both Cavendish and Hushovd have both been disqualified for the following incident. My take looking at the footage is that Hushovd was attempted to squeeze Cavendish out off the road into a bend. The Manxman had to stand his ground. This is a sprint on the road for a lot of points 10 for the top placed of the peleton.

If the Tour Directors are going to allow big points to be awarded in one super sprint they are going to have to allow riders to defend themselves here. Unlike at the end of the stage they can't limp home and avoid being elimiated on time if they are bleeding badly. At this stage in the race a crash at these speeds could be the end of a riders race. If you want to bring excitement to the middle of a road stage and it has happened twice you have to acknowledge that these guys go flat out and can crash. If they can't sort out their space issues here themselves and give way and hit curbs et cetera you're going to have to deal with the consequences.

The Updated points standing is therefore this.

1.(1) Jose Rojas Movistar 65 pts +1pt
2. (2) Tyler Farrar Garmin-Cevélo 58 nc
3. (4) Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma-Lotto 52 +1
4. (3) Thor Hushovd Garmin-Cevélo 50 -4
5. (6) Romain Feillu Vacansoleil-DCM 38 +2
6. (7)Cadel Evans BMC 35 nc
7. (8)Denis Galimzyanov KAT 29 +1
8. (9) Borut Bozic (VDM) 28 nc
9. (5)Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad 27 -10

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