Today didn't let us down at the Tour. As expected, the winds off the North Sea swept through the peloton and things blew apart. Similar to a FB post my brother, Hugh MacEachran made, the conditions today pretty much sum up my European racing experience. Riding in echelons, no echelon or in the gutter. There were big splits in the group today and the big favorites lost important time. The riders are fond of saying you can't win the Tour in the first week but you can certainly lose it. Quintana and Nibali didn't make it into the first split and it is going to make their 3 weeks incredibly difficult.
Tejay Vangarderen, Froome and Contador made the first split and they and their teams put down the hammer to make sure the previously mentioned riders never got back into the race. In particular, this benefits Tejay because it eliminates two riders who could potentially displace him from the Tours final podium.
The final sprint was a reflection of what we're likely to see for the sprint stages in this years race. Cavendish, Kristoff and Greipel contested the final sprint with Greipel prevailing on the line. If you add in Degenkolb these are the 4 primary sprinters to watch at the Tour.
Most interestingly of all, Fabian Cancellara managed to come around Cavendish in the sprint to take 3rd. After time bonuses this put him in to the maillot jaune. This was a calculated move without a doubt. Men like Cancellara don't do anything by chance and you can be sure he and the team management were seated in front of the results this morning putting together a scenario. This also shows the caliber of rider Fabian is when you consider he went to the line with the sprint specialists and still managed to get around Cavendish. Fabian fancies himself more of a classics and TT man but, in a pinch he can sprint too.
Tomorrow brings a 157km ride from Antwerp to Huy, Belgium. If the name Huy sounds familiar it should, this is the famed, and dreaded, climb from one of the early mid week spring classics. Its particularly nasty and it will make for an interesting finish. The race will take in primarily flat roads until the last 50 or so kilometers. The the profile gets pretty bumpy after this and I think we can expect to see small breakaways and the GC men making their way to the front. Joaquim Rodrigues with Katusha is my pick to win the stage. He's historically performed well on the Mur du Huy and he'll be salivating at the opportunity to shine on one of his favorite hills.
Thanks for reading.
This year the Tour de France is 3,360mi long. In honor of the race my entire library on my website is on sale for the month of July for $33.60. Go to http://www.geminitrainingsystems.com/books-and-videos to check it out. You can also follow me on Twitter = GTS_Coach_Ace