Today’s Stage 3 ended on a touching note, with Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar extending his hands in a “W” victory salute, in honor of his friend Wouter Weylandt who passed away on Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia in May.
The victory was notable and emotional for several reasons: it was Tyler Farrar’s first Tour de France victory, and it was his Garmin-Cervelo squad’s first mass-start stage win. It came hot on the heels of their first Tour stage win in yesterday’s Team Time Trial: Vaughters’ squad is on a roll.
So what else happened today?
1. Mark Cavendish won the intermediate sprint with a textbook leadout from HTC. However, he and Thor Hushovd had bumped shoulders in the run-up to the sprint, and the race jury disqualified both from receiving those intermediate points.
2. We can’t help but wonder if the effort to win a single intermediate sprint (rather than several lower-stakes interim sprints in previous years) burnt a match for the HTC squad. By the end of the race, they were able to muster their powerful leadout train, but it fizzled prior to the hard left-hand corner that came in the final kilometer. Garmin-Cervelo mugged HTC’s train in a role reversal from the 2009 Champs Elysees finish (video).
3. There’s something undeniably lovely about seeing Thor, in the Yellow Jersey with World Champion stripes, leading out Tyler Farrar. He clearly honored his word to lead Farrar out, despite the possibility of winning the stage himself. He finished 6th, one place behind Cavendish. Does Thor think he can’t beat Cavendish for the Green jersey? If Thor goes for intermediate sprints and Farrar for stage wins, they’ll lose ground on Cavendish.
4. Despite this success, it’s obvious that Hushovd and Garmin-Cervelo aren’t a great fit. You can bet Hushovd would rather wear those stripes and that jersey across the finish line first, not arm-raising from several riders back. Any thoughts on where he’ll end up next year?
A Happy Fourth of July to the Americans among our readership. Are you a Garmin-Cervelo fan? Does an American win on an American holiday make you feel additionally patriotic today? Furthermore – any additional thoughts on the status of Tour sprinting, the Points Competition, or the Hushovd Conundrum? Here’s a replay of the final 10k. What happened to HTC? Did they make mistakes, form up too early, and run out of steam?
Tomorrow’s stage is a bumpy one with an uphill finish – as Inner Ring says, a gift to Phillipe Gilbert on his birthday. It should provide some fireworks, much like the finish to Stage 1. Enjoy.