|Golden Hams of the Day|
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Jakob Piil (CSC). The Danish squad has really turned things around since their utter despair after Hamilton's crash in Stage 1. A week later, "Nails" Hamilton is riding like a podium contender again and Piil delivered a monster ride today to get the stage win. Along with his eight breakaway companions, Piil was off the front for 203km on a hot and humid day. Given the fact that the riders just slogged through the Alps, Piil's ride was that much more impressive. He attacked the breakaway hard with about 14km left to get a good gap, and finished off a two-up sprint by smoking Sacchi for the win. Sacchi is a better sprinter usually, but Piil had the most left in the tank by the end of the day. He led out along the left barriers, made Sacchi come around him on the right to start the sprint, and then grabbed Sacchi's wheel and blew by him to cross a half-bike ahead at the line. Piil has made a great recovery since being dropped by his team during the team time trial, and the Danish strongman has now given CSC and their fans around the world even more to be celebrate. To top it all off, Piil's ride gave CSC a 27" lead over iBanesto.com in the teams competition by the end of the day.
- Fabio Sacchi (Saeco). In spite of his silly headgear (see Crazy Jane's report below), Sacchi put in a great ride today that just came up a half-bike short of victory. Saeco has had a dismal Tour, with the big news being DiLuca's illness and Simoni's bad legs. Yesterday, DiLuca made it into a great breakaway and today, Sacchi went him one better by coming in 2nd across the line. Sacchi did a great job shaking the other breakaways and chasing up to the hammering Piil, but that effort clearly cost him as he had little left in the sprint. Still, the sportsmanship he showed by shaking Piil's hand just outside the final kilometer and the game way he rode all day bodes well for the Saeco boys. Their aggressive riding is getting them back into the swing of things, and may gain them their much sought-after stage victory by the end of the race.
- Baden "Captain" Cooke. The internal battle between rival factions of the Aussie Sprinting Mafia heated up again today. At the first intermediate sprint just 10.5km into the race, McEwen took 1st just ahead of Green Jersey-wearer Cooke. In the sprint for 10th at the end of the day, it was Cooke who put the wood to McEwen. Cooke started towards the middle of the road and drifted towards the right-hand barriers; McEwen came around Cooke on the right, brushing the barriers and Cooke's elbows in a vain attempt to take maximum points. While watching the sprint live, it looked like there might have been contact between the two sprinters in the final 100 meters. In the replay it was clearly a clean sprint that Cooke won by a half-wheel as he lunged at the line. After they came across the line, McEwen gave Cooke a headbutt to the shoulder, but it was hard to tell if it was malicious or simply an attempt to keep from running into his compatriot. Whichever is the case, this race for Green is really heating up. Cooke now leads McEwen by 9 pts and Zabel (who finished in 12th) by 28 pts, and it looks like this battle between the sprinters will remain close and very exciting to watch all the way to Paris.
Grazed Hams of the Day
- Lance Armstrong (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). He had a nice peaceful day in Yellow for the first time in a while. He'd been under constant attack throughout the Alps, but he and his teammates certainly had an ideal ride today. They chased the breaks hard until a group of men, each of whom was over 46' down on GC, got away after just a couple of dozen kilometers. Then they rode a false tempo and picked posies until the finish. Euskaltel Euskadi even came to the front for a while to chase back some time and preserve their lead in the Teams competition (they failed, by the way). What a nice **yawn** day in Yellow for Lance.
- Everybody else not in the break or fighting for the Green Jersey. After the high drama of the last three days, this stage had me passed out and drooling facedown on my keyboard until the final 20km. Men in the peloton had their arms around each other chatting, mugging for the cameras and giggling at the protesters… and generally enjoying the leisurely pace after some insanely fast riding over the last ten days. Those who have made it this far will now have a few days to recover before the mountains hit again next Saturday, and boy do they hit then. In the meantime, sleep tight boys, enjoy your spinning, and get ready for the major battles that are yet to come.
- Alberto Lopez de Munain (Euskaltel Euskadi). He went on a long break yesterday, and then today he had a nasty crash with a pedestrian at about 100km (the pedestrian was okay). He struggled in to finish 10' down on the peloton. Here's hoping the rest day gives him a chance to recuperate and return to his attacking ways down the road.
- Pavel Padrnos (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). The big flatland hammer had a nasty spill heading into the final 20km of the race. He was very dirty with a ripped shirt and some road rash on his left shoulder and leg. He still finished with the pack, but here's hoping that his injuries simply consist of the usual, superficial badges of honor and not something more serious.
- Roberto Heras (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). The climbing Postie had a spill on the descent of the Galibier two days ago, but in spite of damage to his left knee he has still ridden well in support of his team leader. The team has had to ice his knee to prevent swelling after the stages. He rode today with a bandage on the knee, but the mellow pace meant a lot less strain on the injury. Here's hoping that the "Flyweight Flyer" is back to 100% soon so that he can lead the mighty mountain smurfs of US Postal as they light up the climbs to come.
Crazy Jane's Jambon Délicieux - Stage 10
Today the Jambons Délicieux kicks off with a special look at current Tour de France White Jersey wearer. The white jersey seems to have a knack for picking the cute one, and recent years have given us such charming little creatures as Kelme's boyish Kermit Supreme, Oscarlito Sevilla, and last year's tall Italian dreamboat, Ivan Basso. The white jersey was even clever enough to have chosen the boy that would become Der Kaiser, as Jan Ullrich won it for three years, from 1996 through 1998.
Menchov in Paris, Photo by Anita Van Crey
Here in Crazy Janestown, we love the white jersey. Our current boy wonder is Russian climber Denis Menchov. As the Daily Peloton's own Anita Van Crey has so adeptly captured, the White Jersey has chosen well in the 2003 tour thus far (despite a dangerous flirtation with Menchov's teammate and countryman Vladimir Karpets, who, if you ask me, has a less than optimal hairdo on his face). Known for his shyness with the press, and easy to get along with affability, the blond Russian has shown huge promise on the bike. He won the Tour de L'Avenir in 2001, and stage 2 of the Dauphiné Libéré atop Mt. Ventoux in 2002... and all of that is just great, because what I really want to draw your attention to is that charming smile he's working. We at the Crazy Jane's copy desk hope he goes on to many thrilling victories and délicieux podium appearances, giving us many opportunites to enjoy it.
A few other little things bear mentioning today - one of them is the way Jakob Piil's face changed from the pumped-up, aggressive concentration of the sprint effort to an expression of pure easy delight in victory. Very nice. His post tour interview in Dane-flavored English was délicieux as well. CSC has got to be beside themselves with joy over all the absolutely priceless publicity their riders are getting. While we're on that topic, there's always Tyler Hamilton... still in it, still cute as a button, and no doubt ready for a nice recovery day tomorrow. Fast Freddy Rodriguez was right behind the always appealing Baden Cooke and the extremely disappointing Robbie McEwen for the field sprint today, I wish we were seeing more of Freddy, with that little prince carriere of his. Freddy's podium posture is second to none.
Fashion Police: I loved Fabio Sacchi's gesture of sporstmanship to Piil, his soon to be vanquisher - a handshake in the finishing stretch, that was délicieux indeed, and hat's off to him for his effort to salvage some glory in what has been an abysmal tour for the Saeco squad; but I must suggest that the stars of the Saeco team reconsider their custom painted helmets. Both Sacchi's Cheetah and Simoni's Spiderman custom paint jobs remind me, not very pleasantly, of a 1970's Camaro, or maybe a mullet-sporting hockey goalie.
Other than that, the usual suspects, ladies, the usual suspects.
Tomorrow Crazy Jane and The Panel team up with the Daily Peloton's Dutch Treat, Anita Van Crey, to bring you some of the beauty of Le Tour in pictures! Until then... au revoir!
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