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Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 7
 
By Locutus
Date: 7/8/2005
Tour de France: Jambon Report Stage 7
 
Golden Hams of the Day
  • Robbie "Napoleon" McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto). He went on the attack early with Wegmann, but then thought better of it. While Boonen and Hushovd went after each other in the intermediate sprints, the wiley Little Emperor just hung back and saved himself for the finish. In the final few hundred meters, McEwen went up the right-hand barriers to avoid the swarm in the middle of the road. This proved to be the right strategy, and he was able to raise his arms with a relatively comfortable sprint victory. The score between McEwen and Boonen is now tied at two a piece. We'll have to wait until the far side of the Alps to see the next chapter in this little sprinting saga.
  • Magnus "Magnum" Backstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi). The friggin' huge Swede had his team working for him to set him up near the finish. When McEwen went, big Magnus grabbed his wheel and tried to come around him on the left. While Magnus came up short by a wheel, he still rode good enough to take 2nd and show that he can be a danger in the sprints to come. Next time, maybe the big Swede will try to draft off of someone a little taller so that he can get a better launch to the finish line: McEwen isn't exactly a lollipop kid, but he's not the tallest guy around either. Perhaps that would give him just enough to help him land that Tour stage he's been dreaming about.
  • Fabian "Turn Me Loose" Wegmann (Gerolsteiner). This attack-happy German was finally off the leash today, and he put in a great ride. He won the mountains prize in the Giro d'Italia last year, and now he looks bent on chasing that same prize in the Tour this year. He was able to rack up enough points to get into the Polka Dot Jersey by the end of the day, and he was the first rider to cross the border into his native Germany. And tomorrow, with more climbs on offer, you can bet we'll see Fabian on the loose again.
Ham-Gazers of the Day
  • "T-Bone" Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic). This was a mixed day for T-Bone. It started badly with a crash early on that left his back in a mess and scraped up his left nether-cheek. He then looked great in taking the sprint for second at the last two intermediate sprint lines. In the finale, his leadout faded early and left him in the wind in the middle of the road. Unprotected, beat up, and tired from his earlier sprint efforts, Boonen could only manage 7th on the stage. This was good enough for him to extend his lead in the Green Jersey race to 11 points over Hushovd and retain 37 points over McEwen. Now the Belgian hero will have to take it easy and try to preserve his legs through the mountains like he did last year when he won the sprint on the Champs Elysees.
  • Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis). These two followed Boonen in the final sprint, and neither could come around the big Belgian. Hushovd took a lot of points on the road, but at the finish he faded to ninth place. He is still in 2nd in the Green Jersey race, but his deficit of 11 points looks like it could be tough to overcome. O'Grady came in 11th behind a bunch of men he would normally beat; this dropped him to 4th in the points race a good 42 points behind Boonen. The good news is that O'Grady can actually climb when he needs to, and a stage like tomorrow just might be what he needs to get back into this Green Jersey race and maybe take a stage.
  • The Pure Climbers and GC Riders. These guys were just whizzing around (sometime in front of the camera, no less), waiting for the real mountains to hit. Tomorrow gets a bit bumpier, and then Sunday they hit some real climbs. Then you'll see the thin men like Mayo and Heras come to the front for a little pedal-dancing with Lance. I can't wait.
 
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