Monday, July 09, 2007

Le Tour de France 2007 - Stage 1 - Rockin' Robbie

The Aussies keep bouncing back. First O'Grady falls in the prologue, now it's McEwen's turn. At least Robbie had the team support to get him back to the front, and the extra endorphins from the wrist and knee injury to supercharge him... yet it was still amazing to see him rocket past the other sprinters and take the win. With that one under his belt he notches up 12 stage wins, equalling the mighty Zabel.

McEwen's noted for pushing on with injuries, even broken bones, so I suspect he'll lay low for a few days, keep out of trouble and look for another win when the nervousness of the peloton has settled down a bit. Which leaves some room for Boonen and Hushovd to make amends. Or he may wake up stiff and sore, perhaps get an x-ray and just call it quits. I hope not, but it's hard to ride around France with a badly swollen wrist...

Tomorrow must be Boonen's day in Belgium, but Hushovd will be looking to change that. Breaks may happen but will get closed down by the sprinters' teams, unless an almighty crash splinters the field. It's happened before, and we can only hope it doesn't happen tomorrow (or today, really, given time differences).

So we now have... Fabian Cancellara holding onto yellow with Kloden 13 secs behind. By breaking away and chasing intermediate points David Millar has moved up to 3rd overall. Which moves George Hincapie down to 4th. Then Wiggins, Gusev, Karpets and the first of the sprinters,Thor Hushovd. Hushovd needs a win to get him within shot of the yellow jersey, so expect some fire tomorrow.

Next is Vinokourov, still well-placed to fight it out overall with Kloden over weeks 2 and 3, with Thomas Dekker an interesting wild card at 31secs off the lead. He could give it a go in the Alps. Of the other contenders we have Cadel Evans at 36secs, and Michael Rogers and Oscar Pereiro at 37secs. Levi Leipheimer, Denis Menchov and Alejandro Valverde remain comfortably under the minute but will be looking to gain time in week 2.

If everything remained as it is, no-one crashed or got sick, no-one rode out of their skin and amazed us (like Millar or Hincapie, or Dekker), and if no-one took a flyer and got away then we'd have Kloden winning the tour overall, followed by Vino 2nd, Evans 3rd and Rogers 4th. Pereiro would be 5th, then Leipheimer and Valverde. It actually sounds believable... but will Pereiro team up with Valverde and one-two the rest in the mountains? Will Vino settle for 2nd or will Kloden hand the lead to his captain? Will T-Mobile finally get it together and use their strength to boost Rogers up the order, and does Evans have what it takes to match the mountain goats and take a big lead out of the Pyrenees? Ahh, so much to watch during this beautiful race...