Saturday, July 07, 2012

Sagan wins, many lose. TdF 2012 smash-fest continues

If you've never been in the middle of a 200-strong peleton you can only imagine the eerie feeling. To describe it briefly, it's wonderful and scary in equal measure. It sucks you forward relentlessly, and on the flat you barely need to pedal. Rolling hills are no bother either, it's only when the road pitches sharply up that you need to do some serious work. But if you drift to the edges or the rear, or when the road turns sharply, beware. Changes of pace or direction are unsettling enough, but a narrowing road is worse. Suddenly what was a carefree bunch rolling along (unless you are doing the engine room work at the front, of course) becames a nervous monster. Everyone has to find a spot in a decreasing space. You can imagine what it's like if a rider touches the wheel ahead. Any sudden movement, unexpected braking or swerves around gravel or potholes can set off mayhem... even on a straight road.

Most of the time you just manage. Sometimes it all happens too fast. Tired riders, nervousness and a big peleton can equal big changes in the GC.

At least it frees a few riders up to attack and be let free. As long as Hesjedal doesn't get 10 or so minutes ahead he may be allowed to escape and win a stage. Maybe. I doubt they'll let Schleck or Gesink come back, but they'll sure try. Maybe even tomorrow. Could we even see Cancellara sacrifice his yellow jersey for a Kloden attack? And let Schleck roam free in a break? Or will they hold off such tactics until week 3?  

Video: BMC Remains Intact After Metz Mayhem |
Ryder Hesjedal lost over 13 minutes, with Alejandro Valverde, Frank Schleck, Bauke Mollema and Robert Gesink all crossing the line with less skin than they started with and more time in their general classification tally than before.