Initially, stage 2’s 23kilometer team time trial wasn’t an enormous opportunity for Tour hopefuls to gather good results – it wasn’t long enough for dedicated TTT teams to really gain considerable ground in the General Classification. However, after yesterday’s Stage 1 excitement, featuring several major crashes within the final 10 kilometers that split and then delayed Alberto Contador’s hindward group, the team time trial got a little bit more interesting.
1. Garmin-Cervelo emerged on top this morning – or this afternoon, depending on where in the world you are located. It’s a big result for them – in four years of trying and coming very close, Jonathan Vaughters’ squad had not yet won a stage of the Tour de France. As an added bonus, Garmin-Cervelo’s World Champion, Thor Hushovd, started the day in a polkadot skinsuit but traded it up for the Yellow Jersey when the results came in. For the Argyle Train it’s a major win early on in this Tour de France.
2. BMC came in :04 behind Garmin-Cervelo, another boon to Cadel Evans’ General Classification hopes. It’s too early to say that this is a huge impact on the race, but it’s got to be confidence building to finish second on the first two stages and ride through the early part of the Tour with over a minute on a few fearsome rivals.
3. (As a side note, I will quietly ad that I predicted both Thor Hushovd trading his WC stripes for a yellow jersey early on in this Tour, as well as an impressive TTT ride from BMC.)
4. Team Time Trials sound easier than they are, and this one did feature some exciting crashes and droppings. Numerous riders were dropped from their teams; teams are credited with the time of their fifth finisher, but everybody must finish within 30% of the winning time. This means that those dropped couldn’t take it too easy. Cofidis’s Tony Gallopin slipped his chain off the start gate and had to chase his team. HTC’s Bernard Eisel crashed early on, sliding out in a corner as his teammates swerved to dodge him. No word yet on whether his 22.5km Individual Time Trial made the time cut – if not and he’s ejected, what effect will that have on Mark Cavendish’s leadout train?
5. Again, the big loser on the day was Alberto Contador, whose Saxo Bank-Sungard squad finished :28 back from Garmin-Cervelo and :23 and :24 behind Leopard-Trek and BMC, squads bearing potential GC rivals. Will his poor luck and performance in these first two stages result in his own “fire in his belly”? Will we see some marvelous attacking later on?
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