My delight at Andy Schleck's superb stage victory over roads my brother and I rode together some twenty four years
ago was surpassed only by seeing a battered Armstrong lose over eleven minutes and slump out of contention for the overall. Dare we look forward to the sight of Schleck in yellow before too long? Dare we dream of him being in the maillot jaune in Paris? Gosh it's exciting!
I don’t know if Sylvain Chavanel really is a superstar in France but he certainly deserves to be so after today’s performance in the picturesque Jura mountains. A second stage win and the maillot jaune back on his shoulders is surely a worthy payback for his efforts in the heat of the day.
So Powerman Petacchi notches up his second stage, and the mighty Thor pulls ever further ahead of Cav in the battle for the green. Of course I say ‘battle’, but is it now any more than a vague exchange of halfhearted shoves in the playground? I don’t see Cav coming back from such a deficit, especially as he looked so relatively lacklustre at the end of today’s stage. That’s not to say I don’t think he’s a great champion (I do), and I would love to proved wrong in saying his chances of green are gone for this Tour, but I just don’t see it happening for him. But still… what will tomorrow bring? (And Wendy Rene’s tune was my second choice for the song of the stage, incidentally. Maybe we’ll get a chance to spin it later in the Tour).
Talk about a day of mixed fortunes for the Schleck brothers; Andy sticking resolutely to Spartacus’ wheel and gaining time on his main GC rivals with a fabulous performance on the very same cobbles that dealt Frank a knock-out blow. Let’s hope that losing such a valuable team-mate doesn’t cost him too dearly in the mountains later in the race. The two Saxo Bank riders in the lead group were clearly delighted with their efforts when they crossed the line.
I expect Sky were quite delighted with the day’s efforts too. A superb second on the stage for Geraint Thomas lifting him to second on GC, and Wiggins sneaking some seconds on Contador in the closing kilometre. Fine stuff.
And what of the race for the green jersey that was Mark Cavendish’s main target prior to the race? Does today’s superb stage victory for Hushovd already put it beyond Cav’s grasp? I certainly wouldn’t be betting against Thor losing his grip on the maillot vert before Paris.