Team Radio Shack continued to try and salvage its 2010 Tour de France with a stage win by the former Portugese champion, Sergio Paulinho. Today’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 Beloki’s 2003 Tour—and career.
While today’s race finished well after the estimates and the riders appeared to be going quite softly, sometimes it’s harder to go slow than fast—especially when it’s hot and there’s a headwind. I have a feeling today’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. By far the strongest—and most savvy—rider in the breakaway, it was a hardly a surprise to see him take the win.
2. What was surprising however, was Vasil Kiriyenka’s willingness to lead-out the sprint. 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. I bet Bernard Hinault’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 today’s stage when he attacked to leap over a few of the riders ahead of him on GC—all outside the top-10 I might add. While Anglo-American fans are applauding Roche for his cleverness, crafty-riding, etc… I think it’s an amateur move from a rider who obviously isn’t too confident in his abilities when the bunch is actually racing. 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 tomorrow’s mainly downhill trek to Bourg-les-Valence. 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 Farrar’s trying to be a bit coy regarding his wrist? He seemed a bit shy in his post-race interview regarding his healing—I wonder if his bluff might pay off.
Until tomorrow—share your comments below.