Monday, July 5, 2010

Tour de France: opening stage carnage

Well, within an hour of my previous post, stage 1 of the Tour ended in serial carnage. First Cavendish crashed with Freire and a few other riders, then a mass-pileup took out most of the remaining field, then a forward-moving domino effect eliminated Tyler Ferrar from green jersey competition. For him to make up the ground he lost on Thor Hoshovd would require Thor to suffer some mishap. The #1 rule of the green jersey is you must be in the points every day. This is because the difference between a winning sprint and a medicre sprint is a lot less than the difference between a mediocre sprint and no sprint at all. So Tyler was a big loser on stage 1.

But then came stage 2, which was going to be an interlude between chaos. Instead, there were multiple riders down on the wet descents, including poor Christian Vandevelde who was taken out of GC contention, and may be out of the Tour completely (he went to the hospital after the stage, according to his tweet). The field neutralized to allow the afflicted to get back on, but Christian appears to have been too badly hurt to do so.

Tomorrow: stage 3. I'm guessing a rider protest will turn this into another parade. Two days of carnage is enough. But we'll see.

Tomorrow is also the day Greg LeMond predicted that Armstrong would withdraw, claiming he'd not be with the Tour by the time it entered France. The implication is he'd be afraid of legal action against him following Floyd Landis' claims. But I disagree. Armstrong is responsible for enormous interest in the race, and interest means value to sponsors, and value to sponsors means money enormous quantities of money. Worrying about what happened the better part of a decade ago isn't worth all of that to the Tour or to the UCI. Armstrong gets a pass on this one.

Tomorrow will be interesting, however, no matter what.

added: VeloNews has a good article on what they're calling The Stockeau Massacre. Oil on the wet roads from a crashed television motorbike. Not a good start to the 2010 Tour.

No comments: