Italian Alessandro Petacchi again showed his top form for this year’s Tour de France, winning Stage 4 in a mass sprint at the finish, beating out Stage 3 winner Thor Hushovd and pre-race favored sprinter Mark the Mouth Cavendish for top honors in the roundabout-strewn run through Reims.
Stage 5 tomorrow will be pretty much a repeat of today’s race, with an anticipated sprint finish.
[As an aside, we continue to be distraught at Tyler Farrar’s wrist injury, believing firmly that Tyler would have won either yesterday or today or both, given his prime conditioning and perfect team dynamic on Garmin-Transitions. It looks like Cavendish has been spending too much time promoting his new book, Boy Racer. Those chicken dinners can really catch up with you.]
Overall, Stage 4 was a fairly routine, flat and crashless race — marking a departure for this year’s Tour. And the weather, although on the hot side, was at least clear and dry.
After the oil-slickened pavement of Stage 2 and yesterday’s cobblestoned nightmare, a flat profile and leisurely pace must have been a welcome change of venue for the peloton.
We’re still in awe that Wenatchee’s Tyler Farrar is hanging in there with a broken wrist. It has to be a dispiriting turn of events, but if anyone has the character to handle it, it’s Tyler.
Alan at EcoVelo muses on fandom burnout and is running a poll on whether you’re watching [so far pretty equally split between yes, no and shrug]. We noticed similar sentiments from David Schloss at BikeHugger. The feeling seems to be that with all the doping allegations, Lance’s star is crossed, the peloton is tainted and cycling’s reputation provides little incentive to cheer for anyone. But David seems to have gotten back on board and our view is that as the Tour progresses, particularly if it’s in a wide-open fashion, the initially alienated fans will come back in droves. It would help if Americans had a homeboy to root for (besides Lance), which role Tyler Farrar would have served admirably and, we hope, still may.
Anyone who’s ridden even a few hundred yards with a warped wheel handicapped by brake rub knows how annoying and demoralizing it can be. Turns out Alberto Contador rode with brake rub for 30 kilometers yesterday. That must’ve been one bad boy, since usually you can eliminate the problem by adjusting or quick-releasing the brake.
Good point from Barry Ryan on CyclingNews.com re Andy Schleck: “The loss of his brother Frank will doubtless be a blow to his morale, but perhaps he will now be freer to ride his own race. Last year, it could be argued that the younger Schleck focused a little too much on trying to get his brother onto the podium alongside him.”