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Jambon Awards: Tour Stages 4-6
By Locutus
Date: 7/13/2002
Jambon Awards: Tour Stages 4-6
NOTE: I had to miss posting these awards for the last few days, so I'm going to catch up today with the awards for Stages 4-6. Later today, I will post a report and awards for Stage 7.

Stage 4: The Team Time-Trial

Ham-Gazers of the Day:
  • Euskaltel-Euskadi (20th @ 4' 22" ). They continue to do poorly before the climbs. They can't wait for the climbs. Please, someone, give these talented riders some climbs...
  • AG2r Prevoyance (21st @ 4' 24"). They were actually worse than Euskaltel. They must be saving their energy for big attacks later on or something. Glad they were included instead of Team Coast.
Golden Hams of the Day:
  • CSC-Tiscali (3rd @ 46"): They would have won it if it wasn't for a miscommunication. They have proved to themselves that they can ride with the best, and are motivated and angry now. Tyler Hamilton's shoulder was bothering him from the long effort in the time-trial position, something which could affect his later time-trials, but he has avoided crashes so far. This could mean big trouble for his rivals. (Note: This was the cause of Hamilton's visit to the race doctor in Stage 5, not a crash as was reported by the official Tour the end of Stage 7, he had yet to hit the pavement).
  • ONCE-Eroski (1st @ 1h 19' 49"): They are back at the top of the team time-trial, beating U.S. Postal with only 8 men. This will send their morale soaring. The downside is that they will now have to ride at the front for the next few days, and this may sap their legs for the critical last week of the race.
  • U.S. Postal (2nd @ 16"): They had the legs to win, but Lance said they were too conservative early in the stage. Still, they landed in the perfect tactical position, with Lance only a few seconds back and ONCE now obligated to work at the front for a while. Also, Armstrong is highly competitive, and so are his teammates. They will be furious about their 2nd place finish, and this will serve as a spur for them through the stages to come. People keep talking about how dangerous the ONCE Spaniards are in the mountains, but they keep forgetting that the best Spanish climber of them all--Roberto Heras--rides for Armstrong. Factor in that Armstrong is most dangerous when he's angry, and ONCE had better look out when the road tilts upwards.
Grazed Hams of the Day
  • Erik Dekker, Rabobank. Despite his injuries and crashes, he led the Rabos across the line. They didn't have a great ride, but they did well enough to keep Leipheimer close to the podium, and Dekker was integral to their charge.
  • Benoit Joachim, U.S. Postal. He's riding with an injured thigh, probably due to a run-in with a spectator in Stage 1. He had to sit at the back and miss turns a few times, but he hung on to the end and did everything he could to help his team. A great ride for the young man from Luxembourg.
Stage 5:

Ham-Gazers of the Day:
  • NONE. Today was marred by too many crashes and too many good rides to give out awards for ham-gazing. Everyone who finished upright did well today.
Golden Hams of the Day:
  • Jaan "Bless You" Kirsipuu, AG2r Prevoyance. He admitted that his sprint is not on par with McEwen, Freire, and Zabel this year. So he did what great riders do, and found another way to win. He chased down every attack near the end, and finished off the breakaway strong. An amazing and gutty performance by Kirsipuu to rescue his team from obscurity in this year's Tour, particularly after their dismal last place finish in yesterday's team time-trial.
  • Floyd Landis, U.S. Postal. His team was sending riders off the front for the first half of the race, and Landis succeeded for a while to force the ONCEs to chase. Postal is trying to wear down their rivals and make them pay for taking the Yellow Jersey yesterday. Look for more of the same in the days to come.
  • Ludo Dierckxsens, Lampre-Daikin. The Belgian strongman was off the front again today, showing his class by finishing 3rd. Hopefully he can pull of a win before Paris.
  • Robbie McEwen, Lotto-Adecco. He won the sprint for 6th, taking another notch off of Zabel in their war for the Green Jersey.
Grazed Hams of the Day
  • Rik Verbrugghe, Lotto-Adecco. Lots of riders went down hard today, but the big Belgian put in the most notable ride: he finished the stage despite breaking his collarbone. He had to retire after the stage, but with the toughness he showed today, he'll definitely be back.
Stage 6:

Ham-Gazers of the Day:
  • Stuart O'Grady, Credit Agricole (16th); Fred Rodriguez, Domo-Farm Frites (43rd). The two talented sprinters have struggled with crashes, illness, and bad form, and while both are still finishing in the group, they've yet to come good with a strong finish. I'm a big fan of both riders, so here's hoping they can hang in long enough to find their good legs and win a stage.
Golden Hams of the Day:
  • Erik Zabel, Team Telekom. He lost the Green Jersey when Lotto's Robbie McEwen won the first intermediate sprint, but he stormed back with a good leadout from his team and a solid finish to win the stage. He noted afterwards that Freire and McEwen seem faster than him this year, but his experience and toughness gave him the edge in an absolutely insane run-in to the finish. After the stage, he also demonstrated his toughness to reporters by knocking many of them on their cans.
  • "Wacky" Jacky Durand, His crazy attacks are annoying at times, but you have to respect the way he rides hard day after day. If nothing else, he allows his team's other riders, like Brad McGee, Baden Cooke, and Polka-Dot Jersey wearer Christophe Mengin, to sit on and save their energies for their own more productive attacks. With the struggles of Credit Agricole, has been the class of the French teams in the race so far.
Grazed Hams of the Day
  • David Millar, Cofidis. He went down hard twice today, and was in a fair amount of pain the entire stage. However, he managed to finish with the pack and keep himself within striking distance of the top 10. Here's hoping he can recover enough to put in a good performance in the Stage 9 time-trial.
  • Damien Nazon, Bonjour. He has had poor form throughout the race, and his crash today banged up his knee. It would have been easy for the disappointed French sprinter to pack it in today, but he toughed it out to finish the stage and continue the race.
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