Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tour de France 2006 Stage 3

Tough stage today, 216.5 km from Esch-sur-Alzette to Valkenburg. The temperatures were high and so were the crashes.

Hot days in on the road tend to lead to careless riders and careless riders lead to accidents. There were several little dustups along the road where no one got hurt. Nearing the third climb of the day American Fred Rodriguez and Eric Dekker from the Netherlands crashed into a spectator. Reports are that Rodriguez broke his wrist and Dekker several teeth. Fred Rodriguez has never been a threat to win the tour. His job is to lead out Australian Sprinter Robbie McEwen. I think this will be interesting to see how McEwen does in the sprints over the next few days without his favorite leadout man.

Eric Dekker is a big loss to me. Over the last several years Dekker has been part of many group and solo break aways. While he is getting older you still never knew what he was going to do next. Dekker is one of a few riders in the tour who could say that they won stage races against both Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indurain.

Later in the stage with about 20 km to go there was a small peloton pileup that took Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde out of the race with a broken collarbone. Valverde was one of the young riders that many people thought had a shot at winning the tour this year.

American Chris Horner was injured when he was “shooting the gutter” and ran into a section where the gutter wasn’t paved. He and Stuart O’Grady crashed. Chris suffered a dislocated finger and O’Grady a small crack in his fourth vertebra. Both are racing today.

In the end this stage was won by German Matthias Kessler. Yesterday Kessler escaped from the peloton with about 7 km left to race. He tried hard to stay away but was caught by the sprinters with less than 50 meters left to race. Today he tired the same tactic and it worked. He managed to get across the line about 50 km ahead of the rest of the pack.

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

Pos. No. Name Nat. Team Gap
3 003 HINCAPIE, George USA DSC 00:00:05.000
7 071 LANDIS, Floyd USA PHO 00:00:16.000
15 018 ZABRISKIE, David USA CSC 00:00:23.000
19 011 JULICH, Bobby USA CSC 00:00:25.000
23 016 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA CSC 00:00:28.000
25 041 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA GST 00:00:28.000
143 064 HORNER, Christopher USA DVL 00:08:22.000
066 RODRIGUEZ, Fred USA DVL abandoned

All serious contenders plus a few extras all within 30 seconds of yellow is good!

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