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Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 6
 
By Locutus
Date: 7/7/2005
Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 6
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo). He jumped onto Vinokourov's wheel, and was sliding into the perfect position to try to come around the champion of Kazakhstan and the faltering Mengin in a big sprint to the line. Then Mengin went down, Vinokourov had to hit the brakes, and Bernucci was able to jump away. His teammate, former Yellow Jersey wearer Fabian Cancellara, went down in the crash, but immediately popped up and saw the gap Bernucci had. He got onto his radio microphone and screamed, "Vai! Vai! Vai Lorenzo!," and man did Lorenzo vai (by the way, I think that's Italian for, "Lorenzo! The lycra on your buttocks, it is on fire! Ride quickly and perhaps you shall extinguish it!") Bernucci had put himself in position to win, and when luck fell his way he drove it home to the finish to claim his first professional victory. This was an outstanding victory for Bernucci and his Petacchi-less Fassa team, a product of hard work, talent, and taking the risks necessary to win.
  • Alexandre "The Great" Vinokourov (T-Mobile). This great attacker was at it again, launching himself off the front at the top of that climb when the race was at its hardest. He's won a lot of races this way, and he looked like he was on his way to maybe taking another one today. Then the peloton closed, and the sprinters looked ready to pounce headed into that final right hander. Then the crash that simply slowed Vinokourov put the complete skids on the chasing sprinters, and Vino was able to jog through the corner and distance himself from the pack. While he didn't chase down the flying Bernucci, Vinokourov finished 7" ahead of the pack and took the 12" time bonus for 2nd place. This allowed him to take 19" out of Armstrong, Basso, and the rest of his big GC rivals. Again, this was not simply luck, but the product of a great rider taking risks and putting himself in position to profit when luck turned his way. Vinokourov now stands in 3rd on GC at a mere 1' 02" back of Armstrong, and looks more like the biggest threat to Lance with each passing day.
  • Christophe "the Accursed" Mengin (FDJeux.com). Riding through his home town on his home roads, Mengin was on a mission to come up with a good result today. He was the man who started that long four-man break, and on the final climb he was the man who soloed away and left his struggling breakaway companions in the dust. Mengin's ride was brave and gutsy, but things looked like they were not going to pan out with Vinokourov and Bernucci bridging up and the peloton close at hand. Then Mengin, trying to stay away, hit that rain-slicked crosswalk paint and slid right into the barriers in the final corner. This was a bitter way to end such a great day of riding, and hardly the reward that such an effort deserved. Here's hoping that Mengin's wounds are minor and that he's able to go on the attack again soon.
  • Thor "Thunder God" Hushovd (Credit Agricole). Unlike most of the sprinters, Hushovd made it through that final corner with the rubber still on the road. He managed to cross the line in 5th, which may not sound so great at first. But on a day when Boonen, McEwen, and O'Grady hit the deck and got nothing, Hushovd picked up 22 points to move within 7 points of Boonen in the race for the Green Jersey. That must go down as a successful day for the big Norskie as he tries to go one better and take the jersey outright tomorrow.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) and Ivan Basso (CSC). These two GC men lost the most today, as that sneaky Vinokourov was able to take 19" on a stage that should have been a wash. Neither Armstrong nor Basso was willing to take the risk chasing on such dangerous roads, and that's probably for the best: it was downright sketchy out there today. But you can bet that they will have Vino on a very special, very short leash from here on out.
  • Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom). Alas, poor Tommy! Last year's French superhero, the underdog who held the Yellow Jersey for well over a week through the fiercest climbs in the Pyranees, was unable to hang with the peloton today over a simple Cat 4 climb. When Tommy popped off the back on that final little climb, it became abundantly clear that he's not himself. Maybe he's sick, maybe he has bad legs, or maybe it was just a bad day. Whatever the case, here's hoping that Voeckler finds himself and gets back up to the business end of the racing soon.
Grazed Hams of the Day.
  • "T-Bone" Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic) and Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto). Both of these top sprinters were well-positioned heading into that final right-hander. However, the dogpile forced them to the pavement and they missed out on any Green Jersey points. This is a tough pill to swallow, as it was their teammates who did the vast majority of the work to bring back the breakaway. At the end of the day, these two rolled in to the finish side by side, chatting and joking about their misfortune. Tomorrow is another day, and the last day that will suit them for quite a while. You can be sure these two will be back elbowing their way through the front of the race again, as Boonen tries to defend his slim 7 point lead in the Green Jersey race and McEwen tries to show why he's the real emperor of France.
  • Dave Zabriskie (CSC). Well poor Dave isn't so frisky these days, as he is still nursing the wounds from that horrible stage 4 crash. On today's incredibly hard run-in, Zabriskie was unable to keep up with the pace as he rolled in with a group 7' 46" back in 178th place. For the tough man from Utah, the battle is now just to survive the next few stages while his bruises and gashes and scrapes heal up. If he can make it to the rest day, look for him to rebound in the mountains and start to show some more of that sardonic charm at the front of the race in the service of his leader Basso. And then watch out in that final time trial.
 
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