Well I got that wrong, didn’t I? With a sharp climb shortly before the finish and what looks like a perfect sprinters’ stage tonight, I expected the balance of power and motivation to be with the breakaway…still, predictable is the enemy of great sport.
Whether by accident or design, Omega Pharma-Lotto’s tactics in the closing stages were perfect. Phillipe Gilbert, in a bid to extend his Green Jersey advantage, attacked hard on the final 4km climb along with Yellow Jersey Thomas Voeckler, catching the breakaway and blowing the peloton apart. Unfortunately for Gilbert, HTC’s Tony Martin got across the gap and he was just too much of a GC danger for Leopard-Trek to ignore and the escapees were chased down. The rest of the HTC squad were blown, Cavendish was left isolated and this time Greipel and Cavendish reversed roles with the Omega man getting his timing right and scoring a first win over his former team mate. The rivalry between the riders has regularly been reported as “bitter” but both were sporting in their post ride comments…it’s good to see professionals acting like professionals and leaving the aggression out on the paddock.
Tomorrow is the last opportunity for the sprinters before Paris, so expect to see Garmin and HTC driving the bunch for Farrar and Cavendish plus Omega looking to give Greipel a double and Team Sky with nothing to play for GC-wise riding for Ben Swift.
Cervelo have an interesting blog post from their team chiropractor, Matt Rabin on the rest day:
As I write this the boys have headed out for their ‘rest day' ride to keep the body ticking over and in some cases preventing the body from seizing up too much so they are ready to go tomorrow. The last thing we want is the body to ‘forget' it's at the biggest bike race on the calendar and to shut down.
I'll leave you with his tee-up for the next section of the race:
As we head further south, the weather should get warmer,(it's rained almost every day so far) the winds hopefully less and the roads gradient increases, the first weeks action can be consigned to the mixed-emotions memory.