Team Radio Shack continued to try and salvage its 2010 Tour de France with a stage win by the former Portugese champion, Sergio Paulinho.Â Todayâ€™s 179km ride through the foothills of the Alps took the riders over the steepest climb of the race and down the descent that ended Joseba Belokiâ€™s 2003 Tourâ€”and career.
While todayâ€™s race finished well after the estimates and the riders appeared to be going quite softly, sometimes itâ€™s harder to go slow than fastâ€”especially when itâ€™s hot and thereâ€™s a headwind.Â I have a feeling todayâ€™s stage was harder than it looked.
1. For Paulinho, it was biggest win following his silver medal in the road race at the 2004 Athens Olympics.Â By far the strongestâ€”and most savvyâ€”rider in the breakaway, it was a hardly a surprise to see him take the win.
2. What was surprising however, was Vasil Kiriyenkaâ€™s willingness to lead-out the sprint.Â For a former points race world champion, he should have done a better job.
3. And the French on Bastille Day? Rien. I wonder if Remi Pauriol was ordered off the front as punishment for missing the move of the day.Â I bet Bernard Hinaultâ€™s been spending the last hour or two handing out face-punches in team hotels.
4. And speaking of going off the front, I have a feeling that Nicolas Roche made some new enemies at the end of todayâ€™s stage when he attacked to leap over a few of the riders ahead of him on GCâ€”all outside the top-10 I might add.Â While Anglo-American fans are applauding Roche for his cleverness, crafty-riding, etcâ€¦ I think itâ€™s an amateur move from a rider who obviously isnâ€™t too confident in his abilities when the bunch is actually racing.Â I hope his father gives him a good lecture tonight. If you want to gain time, Nicolas, do it in Mende.
5. As for the field, Mark Cavendish won the sprint, perhaps fine-tuning his leags before tomorrowâ€™s mainly downhill trek to Bourg-les-Valence.Â Alessandro Petacchi also took a few more points from Thor Hushovd today, so look for some fireworks tomorrow.
6. And does anyone else feel Tyler Farrarâ€™s trying to be a bit coy regarding his wrist?Â He seemed a bit shy in his post-race interview regarding his healingâ€”I wonder if his bluff might pay off.
Until tomorrowâ€”share your comments below.