|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo). The big Italian who won six stages of the Giro has brought his "A" game to the Tour, as he outsprinted Erik Zabel (Telekom) and Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) to win Stage 1. Before the Tour, I predicted that the top three in the Green Jersey would be McEwen, O'Grady, and Zabel. Well throw that out the window now, as Petacchi is set to make a lot of noise on the road to Paris. He will likely focus on stage wins, but if he keeps riding like this he could find himself in Green before you know it. It will be interesting to see if he has the legs to make it through the mountains of the Tour after his huge effort in the Giro. Whatever happens, Petacchi has demonstrated once again that he is the best sprinter in the world this season.
- "Mad" Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com). The man in the Yellow Jersey today went after the sprinters and took 2nd in the first intermediate sprint, taking a 4" time bonus to increase his lead over everyone but McEwen (who won that sprint). He went down in the big pileup near the finish, but wasn't too badly hurt as he came across the line shaking his head with no visible wounds. He has defended his jersey for another day, and has enough of a lead to keep it perhaps as long as Stage Three.
- Andy Flickinger (AG2r Prevoyance). He was the man who stayed away the longest, as he broke away with two others at the 19km point and then rode solo after the final intermediate sprint. He was caught with about 10km left, but he livened up what was an otherwise monotonous race. He also got bonus seconds to move him up to 7th on GC at 10". He rode bravely, just like he did last year, and he earned the White Jersey for the best young rider as his well-deserved reward.
- Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo). Before the Tour, McEwen noted that he had made a mistake last year by not contesting the intermediate sprints: he just gave away a lot of points to his rivals that way, which meant that he had to beat Zabel on the final stage to take home the Green Jersey. Today McEwen showed how well he learned his lesson. "Rabid" Robbie will be upset that Petacchi beat him at the finish, but McEwen's win in the first intermediate sprint (before the break went away) gave him a slim 1 point lead over the Italian in the race for the Green Jersey at the end of the day.
- Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com). Like last year, the Frenchman attacked early today to gain points in the King of the Mountains competition. He took off with Flickinger and Walter Beneteau (Brioches La Boulangere) at the 19km point and he won two of the three small climbs they faced. He is now in Polka-Dots, giving FDJeux.com two of the three most coveted jerseys in the race.
Crazy Jane's Jambons Délicieux: Stage 1
- Jean Delatour. Nobody complained when the French teams AG2r Prevoyance and Brioches La Boulangere were invited to the Tour. They are good aggressive teams with quality riders, and showed it again today as they each put a man in the long breakaway. A lot of people complained, however, when Jean Delatour was invited to the Tour instead of Domina Vacanze-Elitron, and the race so far indicates that these complaints were justified. If it wasn't for Jean-Patrick Nazon, Jean Delatour would barely even be in the race. Yesterday, Nazon was their best rider as he came across the line in 34th at 18". Their second-best rider in the Prologue was Laurent Lefevre, who was 63rd at 23". Today they missed the break, did nothing to help chase, and then Nazon gave a turn in the sprint to come across in 14th. Overall, they have been completely anonymous in this Tour. It's still early, but they were a team that was supposed to liven up these early stages. They are going to have to do something very soon to get their critics (like me) off of their backs. If they don't, they're just going to keep piling up ham-gazer awards and making everyone even more dissatisfied with Jean-Marie LeBlanc's decision.
Today, the délicieux is all about one man: Alessandro Petacchi. Those blue eyes, just the right amount of stubble, and a kickin' sprint that relegated "Rabid" Robbie McEwen to second, and German National Champion Eric Zabel to third. He's a rare gentleman sprinter, too; not a lot of big talk, just good legs... in more ways than one! Petacchi's not in green yet, but he will be, oh yes, he will be.
Daily Peloton reader Lorna, however, can only say one thing, and it's Eric Zabel. Zabel had a flat a little too close to the finish for comfort, caught back on to contest the sprint without a leadout, and still finished third. To quote Lorna: "what a stud."
In the fashion department, that Bianchi strip is still looking good, but I feel I really must give today's props to whomever selected the extra-large green jersey for the diminutive Robbie McEwen on the podium - he looked like he was wearing a sprinters classification mini dress!
Finally, I don't know about all of you out there, but I hate to see all that crashing. Things that do not go great together: all those smooth arms and legs, guys wearing nothing but their lycra skivvies... asphalt and twisted metal. Tyler Hamilton would have been a sure winner of the délicieux distinction, and would surely have done us proud in Le Tour. I can only imagine how disappointed he must be tonight. Tyler, we love you! Everyone else, take note: Crazy Jane hereby decrees that there shall be no more crashing in the Tour de France!
Give us your picks! Did we miss your most délicieux rider in our line up? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org , and help us celebrate the beauty of cycling!