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Tour de France 2007: Jambon Report, Stage 6
By Locutus
Date: 7/13/2007
Tour de France 2007: Jambon Report, Stage 6
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Tom "T-Bone" Boonen (Quick Step). Well it's been a long time coming. His teammate won a few days back while leading him out, but this time it was Boonen himself, going toe to toe with the other big sprinters and taking the victory. Boonen had to elbow and accelerate his way through a mess to do it, and showed that he doesn't need an armchair ride to the line in order to win. He also took a couple of sprints for 2nd along the course, which placed him back in control of the Green Jersey. His lead over Zabel is now 11 points, and it looks like the German veteran will be his main antagonist for the jersey over the next week. Boonen better watch out: Zabel can get over mountains pretty good, and snake a lot of points on the hilly stages.
  • Oscar Freire (Rabobank). Freire made an excellent kick, but he could only manage 2nd place today. Again. Freire's team has done a lot of work to set him up in the sprints, and he's gotten real close. He is actually 3rd in the chase for the Green Jersey, and might actually emerge as a serious threat down the road. But first he'll have to win a stage, a feat which has eluded the on-form Spaniard so far this year.
  • Fabian "The Chancellor" Cancellara (CSC). Okay, so he only got 12th today. Big deal. The guy has had a death-grip on that Yellow Jersey for a week now, a mighty feat that will be talked about for generations. Seriously. Tomorrow the heavy Swiss will have to surrender the Yellow Jersey to one of those little buggers whose bones are made of carbon fiber. So before the climbers take over, I want to salute this great Chancellor one last time. And also, in case my theory about the Swiss move to take over the world is right, it's never too soon to start kissing up to one of our future masters.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital). The Italian has been in the mix with the big boys in the sprints the entire week. His team has put out a lot of energy into setting him up along with his teammate Napolitano. Still, the chips haven't fallen their way. As the race heads into the Alps, Bennati will have to hang on now and just try to survive until he can get a chance to sprint again. I can tell you that there are a lot of ladies I know (*cough* Crazy Jane *cough*) who would dearly love to see the matinee-idol Italian up on the podium as a winner.
  • Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto). Well McEwen's hopes for green are pretty much toast at this point. He has a stage victory, but his crash has taken the stuffing out of him a bit and he hasn't been able to repeat his early success. Strange as it may sound, McEwen will now get a chance to recover somewhat in the mountains (as much as anyone ever does anything other than suffer in the mountains). If the veteran can just use his smarts and roll through the mountain stages without missing the cut, his body might get itself sorted and give him a shot at victory again on the other side. From here on out, it will be about nothing but survival and stage wins for McEwen. Here's hoping his hurts aren't enough to take him out of the race.
  • Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Klöden (Astana). These guys were all about survival today. Both were taking it easy, surrounded by their teammates near the back of the pack. Vino had both knees and an elbow heavily wrapped, as was his right hip under his team kit. He wasn't looking happy, but despite all the stitches he got last night he still finished the stage with the group. Klöden also grimaced a bit but made it across the line. Tomorrow is the big test: the final climb up the Col de la Colombiere will show whether or not these two have recovered enough to hang with the other big GC favorites. At this point, however, just making it to the finish with all those stitches (Vino) and that fractured Coccyx (Klöden) and all those bruises (both) proves that they are real tough guys, warriors who won't quit just because of a little (or a lot) of pain.

Locutus, a.k.a. Patrick Sharp, is the author of the new book Savage Perils from the University of Oklahoma Press.
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