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97th Tour de France – Stage 4 le Tour Report Card
By Tim Lee
Date: 7/8/2010
97th Tour de France – Stage 4 le Tour Report Card

97th Tour de France – Stage 4,  le Tour Report Card:
A sense of normality returned to the Tour for the first time since the Grand Depart.

Jersey Leaders After Stage 4

Maillot Jaune: Fabian Cancellara Saxo Bank
Maillot Vert: Thor Hushovd Cervello TestTeam
KOM:  Jérôme Pineau Quick Step
Maillot Blanc: Geraint Thomas Team SKY
Team: Saxo Bank
Stage 4 Report & Photos

At only 153.5km, today was the second shortest of this year’s Tour road stages (only the Parisian procession on the final day is shorter) but perhaps more importantly for a bunch of bruised and battered riders was the promise of no cobbles or precarious descents. Relief!

The last two occasions when Reims had hosted a Tour finish have ended in Bunch sprints and today was forecast to be the same but the way the Tour is going this year, nothing seems to be certain! After the bunch made a bit of a meal of catching the break at 3 km to go, the ensuing mad scramble climaxed with a hectic final sprint. Lets see who came out on top.

A- undoubtedly the play of the day, bring on the Moet!
B- Super effort but not enough to hog the limelight.
C- Bang on the fine line separating a good day from a bad one.
D- A change of fortunes required but all is not lost.
E- Stands for “end”, which is what someone’s Tour has reached.

Special awards
• OFE- Obligatory French Escape. Nuff said.
• Le Tour Farceur Imbécile. Otherwise known as the ’tool’ award, this goes to the person who says or does something worthy of lacings of wrath, but we will point and laugh…
• The Boss versus El Pistorelo

A- Alessandro “Horologist extraordinaire” Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) continues to wind back the clock and party like it’s 2003, taking his second stage victory of this year’s Tour and already equaling the 2007 tally of two stages for the Italian team that is usually found wanting in July.

Alessandro Petacchi back on top form celebrates his 165th career victory 
Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

Special mention must go to teammate Danilo Hondo, whose acceleration at one km to go temporarily derailed the usually well-drilled HTC-Columbia train. When order was restored, only Mark Renshaw was left in front of Cav, enabling the Gentleman Sprinter to open up a long sprint down the left side of the road that no one could match. Whatever speed 36-year-old Petacchi has lost seems to be adequately compensated for by experience, as he has worked out how to beat Cav and Co. twice this Tour, just as he did in last year’s Giro. Now, if only he could make to Paris…

B- Julian “JD” Dean (Garmin Transitions) never looked like beating Petacchi today but the eternal lead out man showed today that Garmin are perfectly capable of producing results even without their A-Team firing. Together with South African team mate Robbie Hunter, the argyle boys are still very much a threat and will push their more fancied rivals at every possible chance.

Alessandro Petacchi celebrates his win...  Garmin's  Julian Dean, and Robbie Hunter counted in the final challenging the Italian uber sprinter who is showing a return to the form that made him the heir apparent to Mario Cippolini.  Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

C- Thor Green Machine” Hushovd (Cervelo) finished ninth today, ahead of previous points competition winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and current points competition threats Gerald Ciolek (Milram) and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia). However, the big Norwegian finished behind Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Robbie McEwen Katusha), and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky). The Cervelo sprinter may start to hope Petacchi in particular does not make it to Paris with the form he has shown thus far and then there’s the new and improved Robbie McEwen, now sprinting with two fully healed legs…

Thor 'Thunder God' Hushovd in Green!  Photo © 2010 Fotoreporter Sirotti 

D- Mark “Chalkie” Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) finished 12th today, which itself was disappointing as we all know what he is capable of. When Petacchi launched his long-range diesel sprint, Cav looked to be biding his time but in fact he did not produce his usual devastating acceleration and got swamped.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of his sprint was that he stopped pedaling long before the finish when it was obvious he was out of contention. He has been quoted as saying that if other sprinters improve their sprints, he may have to “give 85% instead of 80%”. Based on today’s effort the little Manxman will need 150% tomorrow.

E- All 189 riders who started today actually finished, somewhat of an exception rather than a rule so far in this year’s Tour. Here’s hoping Amets Txurruka (Euskatel) is able to start stage 5, but it did not look good as the attacking Spaniard was holding his right arm ominously as he rolled over the finish line with a team mate.

Dmitri Champion (AG2R-La Mondiale)
started proceedings today before Monsieur Prudhomme had even popped back into his seat and was joined by four others, including compatriot Nicolas Vogondy (Bbox Bouygues Telecom). Not sure what was more painful for the leading group; being caught with 3 km to go, or having to watch Champion’s brown shorts for three hours!

Le Tour Farceur Imbécile
No one really deserves this today, but for the sake of having a suitable recipient, lets give it to the HTC-Columbia management, who continue to use Tony Martin as a deluxe steam train to chase down breaks towards the end of stages. OK, so they lost Hansen who would normally do this, but Martin is capable of much bigger things on GC, if only he were given the chance.

The Boss versus El Pistorelo
Status quo today, and most likely for the next two days. Stay tuned.


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97th Tour de France – Stage 1 le Tour Report Card
97th Tour de France – Stage 3 le Tour Report Card
97th Tour de France - Stage 4 Reactions & Photos

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