Saturday, July 2, 2011

TdF: Stage One

Passage du Gois, crashes, and an uphill sprint finish.

The first stage of the tour was not the traditional prologue time trial, but a road stage from Passage du Gois to Mont des Alouettes. 191km, and this is my report....

A few nervous crashes today, with Movistar and Lotto getting the worst of it. Not a tour ender, but this could have hurt Philippe Gilbert's chances at some stage victories, including the opener. With an uphill finish, the stage favoured guys like Thor, PhilGil, Tommy Voeckler, and guys who like to give a flyer once in a while like Count Vino and even Alberto Contador!

A three-man break took off right off the Gois, and spent the day in front until caught at the 20km mark, at which point PhilGil's Pharma-Lotto team really took control of the race with some help from Tom Voeckler's Europcar. Of course the overall contenders had team protection near the front as well.

By the time the peloton hit 11-10km out, a mess of teams were on the front with confusion and a torrid pace animating the race. When at 9km, an Astana rider hit a fan on the side of hte road, taking down at least 40-50 riders and stopping half the peloton, including AC. Left in the pack included some big names - Voeckelr, Cancellara, PhilGil, Evans, Thor, JJ Rojas, and Retirement Shack's Chis Horner. A second pile-up a bit further back really left the race to the tough guys who survived and stayed up front. In the last few kilometres, PhilGil had controlled the front when an attack from Katusha, then from Spartacus Cancellara was matched by the Belgian champ. Philippe Gilbert hammered ahead of Cancellara for the win with Cadel Evans taking advantage of the chaos to come in second.

Stage One & Overall:

1. Philippe Gilbert
2. Cadel Evans
3. Thor Hushovd
4. JJ Rojas
6. Geraint Thomas
7. Andreas Kloden
8. Rein Taaramae
9. Chis Horner
10. Tony Martin

The notables:

12. F Schleck
14. Thomas Voeckler
15. Damiano Cunego!!
16. David Millar
17. Count Vino
18. Cancellara
19. Nick Roche
23. Tom Boonen
32. Sam Sanchez
35. AC
39. Andy Schleck
45. Levi Leipheimer
53. Ivan Basso
63. Brad Wiggins
69. Tom Danielson
71. Ryder Hesjedal

Crazy, crazy first stage, but PhilGil the odds on favourite for hte day was able to control himself through the chaos and win the stage! Tomorrow, the Team Time Trial!