Go Dad Go!

A self-important blog about riding bikes, raising kids and the all-too-rare nexus of these two pursuits.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Update: Stages 4&5 -- from July 6

Phil Liggett has taken to calling Robbie McEwen "the Pimpernel." Unfortunately, I have no idea what a pimpernel is, though -- I have a vague recollection of a scarlet one from history, literature or both -- so I'm going to call the Aussie sprinter "the Declan" instead. Like my young son, McEwen has an uncanny ability to disappear when you take your eyes off of him. And like Declan, when he reappears, he's in the ideal position to inflict maximum damage.

Of course, McEwen inflicts his damage not by spilling a flowerpot that was just a moment ago resting on a ledge that you were sure he couldn't get to, but by jostling, sneaking and otherwise finding his way through the thicket of sprinters at the end of a stage, often finishing out front of the guys who seemed best positioned to win. That's how he did it in Stage 2, when even in the slo-mo replay I couldn't pick him out from behind his much larger adversaries -- until he suddenly emerged out front and took the stage.

Yesterday, however, Robbie did it the old fashioned way: He wound it up about 150 metres out, launching a commanding sprint and very quickly putting a good 10 metres between him and Boonen, Hushovd and his other rivals. Something about that uphill finished suited the "Pocket Rocket" well -- strength-to-weight ratio, don't you know -- so that he was able simply to outclass the others, and not, for once, to outfox them.

But perhaps the effort tired him out a bit, for he missed his cue this morning and finished out of the money (at least for our purposes). Three-time world champion Oscar Friere appeared looking more like his former self than a shadow thereof, spurned the tangle of bikes and bodies on the right side of the finishing straight, and with a very Spanish "I think not" rode his own line to the win. Friere, by the way, is my favorite kind of winner, not because he's Spanish, or because this signals a bit of a comeback, but because no one has him on his or her team, and I thus don't have to spend any time entering points for him.

So over the last two days we've seen Boonen earn 7 points for his many, many teams by holding onto the Yellow Jersey and taking second place in stage 4. Hushovd remains our leading point-earner with 15, but McEwen and Boonen are moving up fast, and we Thor-holders are starting to fade. Tomorrow will likely be Terrible Tom's final chance to win a stage while wearing the Maillot Jaune, as the sprinters go wheel-to-wheel for the last time before the time trial. And as Brandon said, that's when things get really interesting!

Really wishing Valverde (and Danny) had kept his collarbone intact,
Mike

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