Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Le Tour de France 2007 - Stage 3 - an old style attack

Fabian Cancellera, we salute you! In a real blast from a now distant past yellow jersey Cancellara attacked the sprinters inside a kilometre to go, caught the break and held everyone off to the line. It was opportunistic, smart, brave... and very, very risky. It was a racer's move. These are the qualities that have been missing since Indurain began his systematic 5-tour assault on Le Tour, and missing in action during those 7 long, dark and clinically dull Armstrong years. If only this guy could climb!!

How did he do it? The day was long and slow, and he rested up front as the sprinters' teams pulled the break back. As they closed on their quarry they hit some pave and chose to slow rather than risk another pile-up. In that moment of hesitation the 2006 Paris-Roubaix champion realised his opportunity. A slowing pack, a break to chase, fresh legs and a chance to take a flyer, win the stage and grab some time bonuses. An opportunity, sure, but should the yellow jersey really dare to attack the peleton, especially when the sprinters are hungry for the win? Not for decades have we seen a champion like this, someone who dares to risk his yellow jersey with a brazen attack against the entire field. This was not an Indurain, carving away minutes in a TT and defending it grimly in the mountains; or a similarly dry and expressionless Big Tex taking on the mountain goats at the end of a hard stage. No, this was a Merckx or an Hinault, daring to take on all comers! As I said, if only he could grow wings and fly up the climbs as well!

In other news, Zabel managed to get 2nd with a trademark throw, and McEwen managed to get shut out by a wayward Robbie Hunter. It was a miserable day for the sprinters but a great day for cycling.