It’s difficult to predict stages where successful breakaways keep away from the peloton. But it was far from dull, as the top ten included two waves of sprint finishes after MouncoutiÃƒÂ©’s solo victory : the remains of the breakaway including Casar and Pellizotti (the latter in Joost’s team) sprinted for places 2-8, and then a second group came in which included O’Grady and Hushovd who have everything to play for and sprinted to gain green jersey points for ninth and tenth place. The peloton came in over ten minutes behind, but no riders in general classification contention were in the earlier arrivals. Even there McEwen, still in the peloton, sprinted ahead to make the most of a few extra points which are awarded up to 20th place. He took 14th.
The presence of two favoured sprinters in the top ten ensured everyone bar Keir Mitchell (no surprises there) had something to take home, and Joost Dantuma wins his first stage outright after sharing the first Fella’s stage with Francis Lee :
264(+20,-54) Simon White (France)
261(+26,-57) Joost Dantuma (UK)
221(+14,-97) Francis Lee (France)
207(+11,-111) Paul Evans (France)
52 (+0,-266) Keir Mitchell (UK)
Aside from the points result, the terrible news for Paul Evans is that Boonen’s fall yesterday got the better of him and he didn’t start today because of a swollen knee. Paul’s number one rider is out, and it’s difficult to see how he can catch up with the White-Dantuma breakaway (though both have Boonen in their lineups, he’s placed much lower). Franco has energy and if he can keep truckin’ he might catch up – especially as he’s the only manager in the Fella’s tour to have a full squad still riding. Paul will have to keep behind his wheel as best he can. He shouldn’t despair tomorrow, a flat stage leading into the PyrenÃƒÂ©es will be good for the sprinters who have a green jersey battle well under way. He’ll be hoping for McEwen, O’Grady, Cooke and McGee to perform…
All the best for your respective weddings this weekend Bob and Keir, I suggest that if you smoke a Mitchell handlebar pipe (TM) you’ll have a great time. Keir’s so happy he’s given up riding, but maybe he’ll get back in the saddle soon. Sorry not to be able to be with you.