2011 Tour de France – Stage 6 Wrap-up

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Fotoreporter Sirotti

After yesterday’s crash-marred Stage 5, the peloton is left with a long injury list, including GC contender non-starter Janny Brajkovic, and injuries afflicting stars including Tom Boonen, Alberto Contador, Robert Gesink, Sylvain Chavanel, et al. Were the crashes avoidable? What should be done? Fingers are pointed at each other, but ultimately race director Jean Francois Pescheux decided to blame the “movement in the peloton“. Today’s stage did not bring the deserved relief – poor weather with strong winds, showers through the stage and rain in the finishing town. Topping that off with the traffic furniture and narrow roads of the final k’s, there are likely to be more complaints from the peloton.

Today is when the truer extent of injuries are revealed. Gesink’s injury may be worse than it appeared yesterday, as he changed his bike 3 times in as many kilometers it seemed. On the other hand, Sylvain Chavanel’s dislocated shoulder didn’t stop him from attempting a counter-attack. Could this be a day for a breakaway to succeed as the injured nurse their wounds in the peloton? Vacansoleil certainly thought so, placing strong puncheurs Lieuwe Westra and Johnny Hoogerland – along with Adriano Malori of Lampre-ISD and a few other – into a breakaway. This adventure paid off, netting Hoogerland the Polka-dot jersey today.

Team Saxo-Bank showed off their real-time inventory management skills by having Daniel Navarro swap bikes with Alberto Contador when the latter’s bike had issues, only to give Navarro the spare bike of Contador to pedal up to the pack and switch again. Talk about dedication to getting the right bike to the right leader!

Realizing that sprint points are few and far between, teams with Green Jersey ambitions seem to have done their algebra and decided to go full-on for every possible scrap of points on offer. It is not clear if this will translate to them chasing down breakaways, but the desire is there. Team HTC drove the peloton to catch the remnants of the breakaway; they also showed the depth of their sprinting options by dropping both Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw, setting up Matty Goss for the climbing finale. This year’s parcours may mean that a strong puncheur like Philippe Gilbert may have a good shot at Green Glory, having netted a stage win and good positions in intermediate and final sprints. Indeed, OmegaPharma-Lotto drove in the finale, which looks like a semi-classics race than a traditional stage race.

The picture for Radio Shack has become clearer as Leipheimer lost a minute on the GC today thanks to what seems like a careless crash just outside the final 3k. The fireworks in the finale came as expected with the usual suspects animating it: Thomas Voeckler, Alexandre Vinokourov, and a spent Malori.

Vanendert of OPL seemed to have had a good shot at it, when he was joined by Voeckler, but with a motivated Garmin team chasing, it was Edvald Boasson-Hagen who won it, netting the much (over?)hyped Sky team their first Tour victory and marking the potential resurgence of the EBH who took the world by storm in 2009. The second place for Matt Goss ahead of Thor Hushovd confirmed the tactic of Stapleton’s squad, but it may have been at the cost of Cavendish’s Green Jersey ambitions. For sure the depth of the Garmin-Cervelo squad is notable: they have been at the front for nearly every stage so far, and Hushovd’s podium today keeps him in contention for Green. Who will challenge him for the classification?

What did you think of today’s stage?

About Julius

Educated by Dutch and Belgian priests halfway around the world from the cobbled classics that he loves, Julius' aspiration is to someday earn Belgian citizenship.
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5 Responses to 2011 Tour de France – Stage 6 Wrap-up

  1. Jean-Pierre says:

    why do you still hate team sky? after dauphine, in my mind they delivered on their potential.

    now you have geraint thomas, wiggins up in front on GC (for now)…and gerrans, boasson hagen, and swift all up their trying to take wins.

  2. Brian says:

    I'm not a fan of Wiggins and truly believe that Tony Martin will beat him in the GC, possibly this year and definitely next (and all future years). But that having been said, Sky is relatively respectable in terms of both talent and results. Maybe this is the 'big payroll' resentment like people have against the Yankees, Chelsea FC, etc.?

  3. Jeff says:

    Sky's performance has been kind of like what Cav said about Greipel last season – great job when it doesn't matter, but where are they in the big races? I'd say something similar about Garmin prior to P-R and this past week. That Dauphine victory was great for Sky, but nobody who watched that race thought Wiggins's performance was compelling. He raced to not lose and didn't. The W is what counts, of course.

    At risk of being contrarian, Thomas and Wiggins are up front on GC because they're on a team that's designed for TT success. Obviously one can't discount how a team arrives at the front and the TTT is an integral part of the tour, but let's see where they end up when things begin to really shake out. For myself, I'm a fan of Thomas and of Wiggins and I'd like to see them succeed, Swifty as well.

  4. Jean-Pierre says:

    i agree with you on all points…i just think they deserve some more credit. wiggins held his own at the dauphine, blew out a huge lead in the TT, and had a team that supported him and kept him in the leader's jersey til the end of the stage race. they always seemed to mesh well but finally got the results they wanted. a very tactical route to victory. sort of what bmc is hoping for here at the tdf. i support this style of racing. it seems like everyone knows their place and they seem to genuinely relish in what theyre doing. its up to wiggins to climb in the mountains now.

  5. cthulhu says:

    I think the riders are being cry babies about the course.

    Face it boys, cycling is dangerous to some extend and it's for god damn sake le Tour. There is nervousness and there will be crashes no matter how broad the road is and if it's straight or bended. "Bleeding carrots" anyone?
    If the don't like it, they should quit and get a desk job. Millar's tweet summed it up nicely, where he said, that it was tricky and dangerous but nowhere near the bat shit craziness of the Giro, where I'd actually understand such protest, but there I did not hear a single word of protest about the sprint finals.

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