Today’s course looked like a roller coaster on paper and given the steepness of the final climb the GC favorites were sure to make today’s stage decisive.
A small breakaway of five riders got away early and took the intermediate sprint. However, there were still plenty of points to be had when the peloton arrived and Tyler Farrar dominated the sprint with Rojas a bike length behind him. Rojas will stay in the green jersey for now but Tyler Farrar looks to be a man on a mission.
That being said, HTC’s Mark Cavendish looks like he wishes he was back home in Manx. He looks completely disinterested in riding the Tour this year. Maybe it’s all the defections that HTC has suffered in recent years and maybe Cav is just having a bad year but he does not look like himself. Last year when he was off to a slow start I defended him but this year is another story although I hope he proves me wrong.
It wasn’t long before the peloton picked up the pace and reeled the break in. HTC did yeoman’s work to bringing the break back, led by big George Hincapie, who dished out a brutal pace at the base of the Mur de Bretagne.
Only the Tour’s strong men were left to fight it up the brutally steep two-kilometer climb. Evans did the lion’s share of the work as the ten man group made the final ascent. Cadel was stuck on the front with only a few hundred meters to go. Having no other option the Aussie jumped out of his saddle and led out the sprint. In the end the only rider who able to contest the sprint was Alberto Contador. Both riders threw their bikes across the line and Evans was able to hold of Contador by a quarter of a wheel.
Contador thought he had won the stage and triumphantly raised a fist in the air but the finish cameras showed that the Aussie held the Spaniard off.
The worst luck of the day went to Radio Shack’s Chris Horner who flatted on the climb before the Mur. After spending twenty kilometers chasing back on at the exact moment Hincapie dropped the hammer. Horner was able to limit his losses and is only 18-seconds behind Evans on the General Classification.
Hushovd stays in yellow for another day as the big man was able to sit on the back of the GC favorites group. He showed tremendous strength to get up the climb with men who weight 30 to 40 pounds less than him (15 to 20 Kilos).
Thus far it has been a very exciting Tour lets hope the sprinters give us a good show tomorrow.