Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stage 1

Today was the first official day of racing in this year’s Tour de France - Stage 1. Yesterday was the prologue which basically gives them a back to hang the yellow jersey on.

Today’s ride was a 184.5 km ride in the park from Strasbourg to Strasbourg. I’m not sure why Strasbourg got to host two stages of the tour this year. Apparently they have a better PR department than many of the other French cities. Additionally I probably shouldn’t refer to a 184.5 km ride as a ride in the park. I could probably ride 184.5 km if I had to. Of course it would take me several days and I'd need motel reservations along the way. But if I had to ride at the same pace as the tour riders race, I would be lucky to get from the grand depart to the starting line before my heart would explode.

Today’s race had one small category climb that Bob Roll the OLN commentator described as a freeway overpass.

The main excitement of the day happened at the 175.5 km sprint and at the finish line. At the last sprint of the day, George Hincapie sprinted out of the peloton and grabbed the 2 second time bonus for third place in the sprint. This was a brilliant move on George’s part, since he was in a dead heat with Thor Hushovd for the yellow jersey. Eventually those two seconds put George Hincapie in the yellow jersey at the end of the day.

The other bit of excitement came at the finish line. Thor Hushovd the current yellow jersey holder was in the final sprint to the line when he was struck by a large green cardboard hand that one of the tour advertisers had passed out to spectators to wave. This harmless souvenir sliced Hushovd’s right elbow open and ruptured a vein in his arm. Hushovd finished the race with blood rapidly covering his entire right arm. He was eventually taken to the hospital where is arm was stitched up. Hushovd says that he is not sure if he will be able to grip the handlebars as needed in order to sprint for a day or so but he intends to continue racing and see how he fairs in the next few days. You gotta love those tough Norwegians.

So how are our Americans cyclists doing after today’s stage?

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Gap
1 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:00:00.000
3 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:00:06.000
9 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:00:11.000
20 064 HORNER, Christopher USA DVL 00:00:17.000
31 011 JULICH, Bobby USA CSC 00:00:20.000
36 016 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 00:00:23.000
38 041 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA GST 00:00:23.000
114 066 RODRIGUEZ, Fred USA DVL 00:00:40.000

George Hincapie in Yellow and two other riders in the top 10 - wonderful.

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