Golden Hams of the Day
Grazed Hams of the Day
- Tom "Daniel" Boonen (Quick Step-Davitamon). After several stages of frustration involving mechanical problems and crashes, the young Belgian superstar finally came good in the final sprint. With a solid leadout from his team, he came into the final uphill drag in perfect position. Boonen jumped out from the leadout and blew everyone away, raising his arms in victory as he crossed the line. This is the first of what will likely be many sprint victories in the Tour for Boonen, and he now has some momentum in the race for the Green Jersey.
- Stuart "Red Stallion" O'Grady (Cofidis). After his monster break and victory yesterday, O'Grady still had enough in the tank today to take 2nd in the sprint. This put the Aussie back where he hasn't been in a while: the Green Jersey. With the abandonment of supersprinters Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) and Cipollini (Domina Vacanze), two favorites for Green this year, O'Grady has emerged as one of the chief contenders for the sprinters' prize. A few years back, O'Grady and Zabel dueled over this jersey until the final day in Paris. It's good to see O'Grady back in Green and in the thick of another major battle on the roads of France.
- Juan Antonio "Flea" Flecha (Fassa Bortolo). The powerhouse Spaniard who won a flat stage last year put in another epic ride today. With the peloton closing fast, Flecha jumped away from his breakaway companions and actually gained time for a bit. Then, with only 2km left, he was swallowed up by the increasingly crazy chase. It was a noble effort by Flecha, and it's likely we haven't seen the last of him off the front in this race.
- Baden "Captain" Cooke (FDJeux.com). Yeah, he only got 5th in the sprint, but for last year's Green Jersey winner this was a huge step. Cooke has had a very bad year, but today showed some signs of form with his strong finish. With Sandy Casar's great ride yesterday and Cooke's ride today, things are really looking up for the FDJeuxs.
- Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo). Like yesterday, McEwen was victimized by a crash near the end of the stage. Yesterday McEwen was able to recover and take the sprint for 6th, but today he went down much harder and didn't have the opportunity to regain the front as the crash was in the final kilometer. This cost him the Green Jersey, as he was one of the last to come across the line, his shorts ripped to reveal a huge wound on his left hip. McEwen is a tough little man, so if the injury isn't serious, you can bet he'll be back at the line tomorrow. Here's hoping that Robbie is able to come back completely and mix it up in the sprints for the rest of this Tour.
- Lance "El Jefe" Armstrong (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). He hit the deck early today after just about a dozen kilometers. It wasn't serious, but it was the prelude to another big day of crashes. Armstrong was hung up briefly behind that huge crash in the final kilometer, but came through it unscathed. "El Jefe" must be living right, as he once again avoided injury and lost no time (per the rules, the time losses due to the crash were neutralized due to the fact that it happened in the final kilometer) despite being on the pavement. Along with Jan Ullrich of T-Mobile, Armstrong was least affected of the GC men by that final dustup. For both of them, it was another successful day of maintaining position on the road to the Pyranees.
- Tyler Hamilton (Phonak>. Dammit. Tyler got caught up in that crash at the end and ended up on his back, where he got some bruises and road rash. Dammit. Good news in that it doesn't appear to be anything serious. Bad news is that he crashed. Again. Dammit. His teammates Oscar Pereiro and Jose Enrique Gutierrez also hit the deck, with Pereiro injuring his hand and Gutierrez scraping up his leg and side. Here's hoping that the injuries are as minor as reported, and that they don't affect the performance of Tyler and his team.
- Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt (CSC). Both of these men are riding high in the GC, having their best Tour in years. They are both within one minute of Armstrong on GC, but they were caught up in that bad crash at the end today. Julich appeared the worse off, as he was one of the final men to limp across the line (just ahead of McEwen). Here's hoping that both of these great riders are okay, and can come back strong to build on the great rides they've had so far in this Tour.
- Gilberto "G-Man" Simoni (Saeco). Nothing seems to be going right for the little Italian climber. In the Giro, he only came in 3rd while his young teammate Cunego took the race by storm. In the Tour he had been doing well until that hiccup in the team time trial – where he crossed the line just behind his mates – cost him some serious time because of a silly rule. Today he looked to be right in the middle of that bad crash, as he crossed the line being pushed by his teammates, his helmet hanging on his handlebars and a dazed and pained look on his face. Here's hoping that the great champion's injuries aren't serious, and that he's able to charge up the mountains next week with his usual flair.
Crazy Jane's Le Tour Delicieux!
It seems like there's at least one, every year - a real heartbreaker of a breakaway - the one where some brave soul holds on with every ounce of strength in his body and nearly drills one all the way home, fighting to hold on until the last kilometers, only to be consumed in sight of the line by the man-eating beast called the peloton. Today, that brave soul was Fassa Bortolo's Juan Antonio Flecha, and I can't tell you how much I was hoping to see another arrow loosed from his bow.
It always kills me to see such a brilliant effort swept aside by the hard charging teams of the sprinters; and, come to think of it, it's usually Fassa doing the sweeping as they carry the unbelievable Alessandro "Rocketpants" Petacchi into the fray. Unfortnuately, Rocketpants abandoned Le Tour today, and before giving me even one opportunity to agree with the legions of my readers who think he is a dreamboat. Today, Flecha let us all know that despite the departure of their erstwhile leader, they are still very much in this race, and I really wanted Flecha to win because I always love the Spaniards, he's real easy on the old eyes, and his victory probably would have made his especially delicieux teammate, Fabian Cancellara, smile beautifully, and even though I would have missed seeing that for myself, I would have been able to imagine how charming it was (see? I squeezed my special favorite in there!).
Juan Antonio Flecha is my first posterboy today. I hope he makes it all the way next time:
Senor Flecha: very saucy in funny glasses
Photo by Christine Grein
Next up, today's big winner, young Tom Boonen. A few years ago, this reporter had the pleasure of a little chat with Mr. Boonen, quite long enough to notice that he is a remarkably self-possessed young man with a fantastic complexion. After Rocketpants Petacchi, he's the most prolific winner of races this season with 14 victories, and coincidentally, he has the golden skin, and sweet smile of a 14 year old boy - only, with slightly incongruent whiskers. Boonen always strikes me as precocious or somehow overgrown, and this picture of him made me laugh. I hope you all like it, too:
Photo by Christine Grein
One more posterboy today, girls, because today the Delicieux factor at Le Tour took a very serious blow when Mario Cipollini called it a day. Mario is a true Champion. There's really no doubt at all that he's totally hopped up on charm enhancers, and has been for years. Mario, let's not say good bye, let's just say il domani è un altro giorno.
Super Mario kisses le Tour goodbye
Photo by Christine Grein
The Green Jersey department has some good news for us! Robbie McEwen's out,Stuey O'Grady's in. Delicieux! Meanwhile, White Jersey Watch gives us another day with French champion Thomas Voeckler's boyish charm. The young Frenchman is obviously beaming with pride and living a dream. The Maillot Blanc will be kept warm tomorrow by Sandy Casar, and there's nothing wrong with his good looks, either, so it's all good, even if it's not... oh, nevermind.
Finally, a message from the panel here at Crazy Jane's copy desk, and I want all of you bike monkeys out there to listen up:
NO MORE CRASHING!
The very thought of all those smooth brown arms and legs hitting the pavement at speed and tangling with potentially poking or sharp bike parts does not please me one bit. It's only a matter of time before someone puts an eye out. Be careful out there!
And Tyler, you be especially careful.
Don't forget to send me your picks for the Delicieux distinction! We need all the help we can get over here, so e-mail me your choices at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your comments at Le Tour Delicieux!