Today brought another win by HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish. Fresh from a defeat at the hands of Andre Greipel, Cavendish executed everything perfectly, using his acceleration to open a gap that ensured no one was able to cling to his wheel. For a while, it looked like HTC might have been overextending itself to bring the breakaway in, with Bernie Eisel taking an especially large turn in the final 10 kilometers and Matt Goss suffering from the effects of an undisclosed illness. Obviously, things worked out in the end, giving Cavendish the stage and taking the green jersey from Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert. Here’s what else we noticed:
1. An early breakaway composed of Mickael Delage (FdJ) , Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis), Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel), and Lars Boom (Rabobank) hung on to the very end, only to fall victim to a perfectly timed peloton. Boom tried to put his time trial skills to work in the final kilometers before finally giving in to the inevitable. Nice effort by the break, however.
2. Have you noticed that FdJ is dominating the intermediate sprint competition (aka, the no-jersey competition)? They’ve won 7/10 intermediate sprints, exceptions being Stages 4, 5, and 8 – though Jeremy Roy racked a second on Stage 4. What’s all this mean? FDJ is in a lot of breaks–and making a lot of money (1500 euros per sprint).
3. Vacansoleil’s Romain Feillu clipped Mark Cavendish’s shoe with 500m to go in the sprint. Cavendish had to reach down and fix it before going on to win the stage.
4. Speaking of Romain Feillu, its worth noting that the guy has been a factor in a number of the bunch sprints this tour, notching 5 top 10 finishes in spite of having nothing that resembles a leadout train. His ability to jump from wheel to wheel is impressive, to say the least. He’s indicated that the tendinitis he’s experiencing will likely cause him to drop out tomorrow. We’ll be sorry to see him go–while the peloton likely will not.
5. John Gadret (Ag2r) didn’t start today’s stage, citing fatigue from his Giro performance. I wonder how the other top Giro contenders are feeling heading into tomorrow’s stage? Is Nico Roche relieved?
Tomorrow’s stage is the first of the high mountain stages with three major cols on offer. Before they hit the hills though, there’s an intermediate sprint that will be contested by all of the points contenders. We’re sure to see Cavendish, Gilbert and the like duke it out before falling to the way, way, way back, and coming in just inside the time limit. No matter what, tomorrow should be an exciting stage both for the early sprint, and for the chance to finally see how the GC contenders stack up against each other.
If you’re watching live, you should really join Whit and Joe Lindsey in Bicycling.com‘s Live Blog. Tomorrow’s coverage starts at 8est, and should be located here. Check our Twitter feed (@paveblog) to confirm the link.
Did you notice anything interesting in today’s stage we failed to note? Share your comments below!