Another flat stage, another bunch sprint. Tom Boonen might have enjoyed the day in yellow, but he sure isn’t sprinting like a guy who thought he was going to win the green jersey this year.
Boonen’s team controlled the peleton most of the day and reeled back the break-away with 2km to go. But they didn’t get organized to do a proper lead-out. Two days ago, Thor Hushovd pulled his foot off the pedal in the sprint – today his lead-out man Dean did the same and crashed with 400 metres to go. But by that time, McEwan’s “new” lead-out man Stegmans had delivered McEwan to the front, and Robbie did the rest, winning by a convincing margin.
Hushovd got 4th, Boonen 5th. McEwen is back in green for tomorrow, Boonen retains yellow.
Tomorrow is another relatively flat course with a few 4th category hills. Expect another bunch sprint, and not much change in GC. Boonen better get it together and show some of the talent that he showed this spring or he’s going to go home empty handed.
Yesterday, the TV showed a former sprint champion Stuart O’Grady peddling very slowly off the top of the Cauberg long after the rest had finished. Today they’re saying that he cracked a vertebrae and is still in intense pain – but he rode today and finished in the peleton. The difference between a race horse and a bike racer is a horse race has a vet to say “no, racing this horse would be too cruel” and the horse doesn’t talk back.