I was desperate to watch the latest stages of the TdF. My usual sources had dried up, and I don’t have a TV. Luckily, something panned out and I have been watching the full Versus broadcast of the Tour. I’d prefer watching them on ITV, but beggars can’t be choosers. Anyway, Phil Liggett is on Versus now, so it’s almost like ITV. The graphics on Versus really suck though. They are very ugly to watch and uninformative. I also don’t appreciate all of the sponsors in prominence. But, at least I get to watch the Tour.
The prologue was in full swing and Fabian Cancellara won easily enough. Spartacus didn’t deceive and had the yellow jersey. What was surprising was that Wiggo was nowhere to be seen. He placed really bad. The same goes for Andy Schleck, who was almost a minute behind Fabian Cancellara. Lance Armstrong was 4th and Contador 7th.
In the first stage, there were quite a few spills towards the end of the stage. There was a break out and it lasted quite a while, but the peloton finally caught up with them with a few klicks to go. It was sad really, because they had expended a lot of energy for nothing. The stage had started out from Rotterdam and ended in Bruxelles. All of the riders, including the sprinters, were extremely jerky towards the end of the stage. Everyone was jockeying for position. There was a hairpin turn that Cavendish and Freire completely missed, with a bunch of other sprinters. They crashed out and had to limp over the finish line. This wasn’t all. There was another crash about 800 m before the finish line. This one involved Cancellara and completely blocked the racers from finishing.
This left Farrar in contention for the final sprint, but an AG2R La Mondiale racer bumped into him and crashed. His bike was caught on Farrar’s rear derailleur, which broke off. This left Alessandro Petacchi to finish the stage first and take on the green jersey. Cancellara retained the yellow jersey. This was a completely flat stage, so no climbs and no polka dot jersey.
The second stage started in Bruxelles and ended in Spa. It was a rainy stage, filled with category 3 and 4 climbs. Chavanel and another racer broke off from the peloton. A total of 8 riders were in this breakout group. They spent most of the stage well away from the peloton. Their lead was up to 7 minutes, but hovered around 3 minutes for most of the 201km.
During one of the descents, in the rain, a rider crashed in middle of the peloton. This caused a lot of others to crash as well. It took out Andy Schleck, who looked dazed before he hopped onto the bike of one of his colleagues and tried to race back to the peloton. This split the peloton into a few different groups. The main peloton would catch up with the escaped racers, but Chavanel made his mark and raced ahead when he felt that the peloton was too close and his fellow breakout riders couldn’t bear the burden anymore.
He raced ahead all alone, oblivious to the crashes and the drama that was going on behind him. He finished almost 4 minutes ahead of the peloton. Cancellara asked the race officials to give everyone the same time and the peloton raced to the end of the stage without a sprint. The last group, which included Andy Schleck, was 10 minutes behind Chavanel, who took the yellow jersey from Cancellara.
This has been a very exciting first few days in the Tour de France. I can’t wait to see the full coverage of the 3rd stage, which includes a few miles of cobblestones. Whatever the teams and racers might say, it makes for a very exciting race.