Golden Hams of the Day
Ham-Gazers of the Day
- Jaan "Bless You" Kirsipuu (AG2r Prevoyance). He has had a rough year, but the veteran sprinter found something in his legs today to nip McEwen and Hushovd on the line. This was a great victory for the speedster, and an important win for his French squad. It was certainly an upset, as fancied riders like Petacchi and Boonen struggled in the final straights while Kirsipuu surprised everyone for the win.
- Fabian "Champion" Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo). He went out and fought in the intermediate sprints to preserve his Yellow Jersey. He took 2nd place at the second and third intermediate sprints, which was enough to preserve a 4" lead on GC by the end of the day. To top it off, he put himself on the front to help lead out his team's big sprinter Petacchi near the finish. While Petacchi didn't deliver today, Cancellara did: he continued to show his class as he truly earned another day in the coolest shirt in cycling.
- Marc Wauters (Rabobank) and Jakob Piil (CSC). These two classics hammers have both won Tour stages before, and their breakaway in the final 30km put a big scare into the sprinters' teams. They got reeled in with only 2km left, but theirs was a brilliant and powerful move that had a great chance of succeeding. I doubt we've seen the last of Wauters and Piil off the front in this Tour.
- Thor "Thunder God" Hushovd and Julian Dean (Credit Agricole). The big Norske Champion made a run at the Yellow Jersey today, earning time bonuses along the way to put him within 4" of Cancellara. He also finished 3rd on the stage, starting the sprint with a massive surge up the right side of the road. Dean gave him a perfect leadout, and it was Dean's surge that put the kibosh on the Fassa train. Once Dean surged, the Fassas faded and everyone was left scrambling for Hushovd's wheel. The Thunder God may have jumped a bit early, but his great riding today earned him the Green Jersey with a 3-point lead on Kirsipuu and an 8-point lead on McEwen. The way he's riding, he could be a serious long-term threat to wear that Green Jersey in Paris. Hei, Hei Norge!
- Paolo "Pettite" Bettini (Quick Step-Davitamon). His work in the early breakaway earned him the Polka-Dot Jersey as the King of the Mountains. He had enough legs to help leadout Boonen at the end; unfortunately, Boonen slipped his chain and was unable to contest the sprint. Still, Bettini's work made the day a success for the Quick Steppies, as they have a special love for those Polka-Dots.
Grazed Hams of the Day
- Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen (Lotto-Domo). The Little Emperor got 2nd on the line with a late surge, but he changed lanes radically moving from right to left to do it. In the process, he bushwhacked Petacchi and forced the Italian favorite to hit his brakes. Petacchi wasn't moving that fast anyways, and McEwen showed today that he has the legs to be a force in the sprints again this Tour. He just sat on the wrong wheels a bit too long today, and left himself too much to make up before the line.
- Lance "El Jefe" Armstrong (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). Okay, the man wearing the Green Jersey today was in the wind for a minute at the end, but for the most part he spent the day behind his teammates near the front of the peloton. He stayed out of trouble, saved his energy, and had a relatively anonymous day. For a GC man like Armstrong, that's a good day on a stage like this.
- Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank). Like Armstrong, these GC men kept themselves upright and out of trouble today. Mayo was caught out briefly when the field split, but his team quickly led him back into safety. These three stayed behind their mates, lost no time, didn't crash, and stayed anonymous while the sprinters did their thing. Again, this is a successful day, and these riders are now simply one day closer to the important team time trial.
- Mario "SuperFabio" Cipollini (Domina Vacanze). Another day of bad luck for Cipollini, the man who has crashed out of his last two grand tours. He crashed early, and then lost contact with the peloton over the final climbs of the day. His teammates paced him back up to the front, but he was only able to manage 38th. His time out of competition since the Giro is probably hurting him right now too, so here's hoping the big fashion monster finds his legs, avoids any further crashes, and mixes in the sprints very soon.
- Tyler "Rubber Man" Hamilton (Phonak). Tyler once again bounced on the deck today, but he bounced back up and made it to the finish with the field. He appeared to be fine, so here's hoping that appearances aren't deceiving in this case.
- "Mad" Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com). Whether due to a crash or lingering illness, McGee was really hurting today. He finished 6' 05" behind the peloton with the help of Matt Wilson, but he's still in the race. Bradley is just trying to hang in the race long enough to allow his body to recover, a sad predicament for someone who was kicking butt in the Giro not too long ago. Here's hoping that he gets better soon, and is back leading out Baden Cooke in the sprints at the front of the race.
- Bernard Eisel (FDJeux.com). He had a silly crash while in a breakaway by turning his head to talk to his team car and overlapping wheels with the guy in front of him. This caused him to lose his balance, and the slick white stripe in the road did the rest, sending him to the pavement hard. He got back up and managed to finish in the peloton, but he had to drop back to the doctor's car for assistance. Again, here's hoping that his injuries aren't serious and that he and his teammate McGee are able to be back to full strength soon.
- Nick Gates (Lotto-Domo). Gates crashed early in the stage, and then had to struggle to the finish alone. He finished 30' 38" behind the winner, but he finished! He takes the early "lead" in the Lanterne Rouge, and embodies what that distinction is all about: pushing on to the finish in spite of bad luck and bad weather, toughing it out until the end. Here's hoping Nick is able to rebound physically and make it to the line tomorrow.
Crazy Jane's Jambons Delicieux!
Wouldn't you know it? It was another beautiful day in Le Tour! And, people, Fabian Cancellara is making it easy for me with champion-style rides like he put in today.
I loved to see him fighting for the intermediate sprints because I can't tell you how much I wanted to see him break out all that charm and beauty on the podium again. Especially delicieux, is the way he rode in defense of his maillot jaune, taking on the sprinters on the road, but also went to the front to drill it into the finish for Petacchi. Petacchi didn't have the goods today, but Cancellara had it in spades, and also, he is really, really handsome. Have I mentioned yet that he is 6ft tall? Yeah. He gets another day in yellow, and he's also going to have to have another day as my top pick in the honey baked hams department. Just look at this smile!
Fabian Cancellara can't reign in that charm!
Photo by Christine Grein
Word is, the 23 year old Swiss rider is looking for a road stage victory because he'd like to prove that he's more than a time trial specialist, and I'd just like to note, for the record, that I am all for it! Go, Fabian!
Readers of my column from last year's tour will know how much big german hammer Jens Voigt is a huge favorite of mine. I just love the way he's tall and athletic with good skin and big muscles, but at the same time, he's kinda dorky, and has that big adam's apple... Or, it could be the way he rides like a big stud, I'm not sure! Today I have to give him the energizer bunny award for his long breakaway effort, and the way he just wouldn't say die, even when he'd been caught.
The other man I really need to mention today is Bradley McGee. I hated to see him suffer and lose time. McGee is one of the most appealing riders out there, and I'm sure he's disappointed in how the Tour's going for him so far. It's no good, seeing a good man down like that, especially when he's as charming as Mr McGee. Brad, get well soon!
Finally, I love the young ones! I'm instituting a new portion of Le Tour Delicieux: The White Jersey Watch. In recent years, it seems the White Jersey knows how to pick 'em, with that charming Denis Menchov taking the honors last year, Italian dreamboat Ivan Basso making it delicieux in 2002, and baby-faced Oscarlito Sevilla gracing the podium in 2001. The first white jersey winner in Tour de France history was Francesco Moser in 1975, and I can personally attest that Mr. Moser is still looking good, and super stylish even today! The white jersey even picked the man who would one day become Der Kaiser, and big hottie Jan Ullrich wore it for three years from 1996 through 1998.
Today, I'm lucky, because the race for the white jersey gives me the opportunity to say, once again, that young Fabian Cancellara is really super mega charming; but since he's busy looking resplendent in the Maillot Jaune, I feel I should also mention young Bernhard Eisel, who is keeping the White Jersy warm, and who appears to have a little touch of sauciness, if this picture is any indication:
Bernhard Eisel, looking a little naughty
Photo by Christine Grein
We'll be keeping a close eye on the developments in the white jersey department in the weeks to come...
One last thing: Tyler, I thought I said NO CRASHING!
Have we missed your man? Crazy Jane welcomes your contributions, which can be mailed to email@example.com, or posted in the comments section on Le Tour Deliciuex!