Saturday, March 15, 2008

Paris-Nice Stages 4 and 5: To The Moon And Beyond

Well, apparently I can wait for Ventoux. Grrr. I caught glimpses live on Thursday, so it wasn't a total loss, but I've been battling with for two days to see the complete broadcast. I finally got it all to work tonight, so am playing catching up.

Okay, Mont Ventoux: The blue skies were indeed here to stay, it was so reassuring to see the guys' bare arms and legs again, and brilliant sunshine all around. Jens Voigt. Sigh. You couldn't create a better character if you tried. There he was with his trademark grimace, pulling away from the break and going it alone on a valiant effort that looked for a bit like it just might succeed. The VeloNews live coverage today mentioned the complications there were with his newborn baby, and how as a result he hadn't been riding much leading up to this. I trust she's doing better, as he is racing again, and send best wishes to the whole brood. CSC have had such a rough time of it in this race, typical Jens to come back fighting. And on the day we learned no more CSC after this year. That's going to be at least as weird as no Postal was back in the day. More, even, because CSC is such a team's team.

Jens couldn't quite make it, but even in defeat he showed his greatness. He was cracking, no doubt about it, but when the pursuing break caught him, he didn't just let them pass him by. He saw teammate Frank Schleck in the small group, and so he hopped right on front of the foursome and did his level best to set tempo for Frank! Jens couldn't last long, but that he even tried shows the measure of the man.

Always a sad sight, the yellow jersey going backwards with just one loyal teammate alongside. And so it was with Sylvain Chavanel. Lots of guys popped on the slopes of Ventoux, but he had great hopes of not being one of them this day.

Yaroslav Popovych found out that it doesn't always quite work out to have your Tour GC man working for you in the smaller races. Cadel Evans was trying to pull Popo to the yellow jersey, but set the tempo too high, and all it did was give Robert Gesink incentive to launch an attack. Only Evans could follow, so it was just the two of them to the end. I'm not sure I like Cadel zipping around for the win, he could've at least gone side-by-side to Gesink in the final stretch. But that's racing, and Gesink did get yellow for his efforts.

On to Stage 5, which saw a big ole' breakaway for much of the day. Caught a glimpse of Christian Vande Velde, towards the back of the pack, brighter days ahead Christian! And get well soon to David Millar, I'm glad he's taking care of himself. Gutsy attack by Carlos Barredo towards the end, well done for the stage win and a move up on GC. From the sun to the sea, on to Tirreno-Adriatico…

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