Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tour 2009: It's Ground Hog Day!


Stage 11 of the Tour de France was a lot like Stage 10. Sure, the route was a bit different, as was the scenery along the way, but at the end of the day, the results were the same, as Mark Cavendish sprinted past everyone else to win his fourth stage of this year's Tour, and reclaim the Green Jersey from Thor Hushovd, who was able to maneuver into position coming down the stretch, but couldn't quite get past the "fastest man in the world."

Today's route rolled through the hills between Vatan and Saint-Fargeau, a distance of 192km (119 miles) that offered little for the climbers to do. The Peloton played it safe most of the day, although there were a few crashes along the route, and a late breakaway had to be reeled back in by Team Columbia-HTC once again. And just like yesterday, George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw delivered Cavendish to the finish line, where he powered his way up hill to claim the stage. Previously, many had said that he hadn't ever won on an uphill finish, but he silenced those critics today, pulling away from the field.

Otherwise, nothing else is changed. Nocentini is in Yellow, six seconds in front of Contador, and eight in front of Lance. Egoi Martinez holds on to the Polka Dot Jersey and Tony Martin is in White. As I've said several times before, nothing will like change in that department until next Tuesday, when the Alps make their first appearance, and they can't come quick enough at this point. These by-the-numbers stages are not very exciting to watch, unless you're into the sprinters and following the Green Jersey points.

Tomorrow, it's on to Vittel by way of Tonnerre. The stage is 211.5km (131 miles) in length and offers a bit more in the way of climbs, although there is still nothing more than a Category 3 to deal with. The only real excitement will be whether or not anyone can challenge Cavendish, either out on the route or at the finish line.