Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Lazing on a sunny afternoon, in the summertime....Meanwhile Paulinho takes the stage ahead of French rivals on Bastille Day

Paulinho sprinted to a photo-finish victory today on the Tour de France ahead of his rival breakaway group members. In a close run finish, the Radio Shack rider snatched the stage win ahead of Kiryienka, the last man to survive a breakaway that had managed to escape almost at the off. The first Portuguese to win an individual Tour stage in 21 years and only the fourth rider from his country to do so, he outsprinted the Belurus rider to give Radio Shack their first win of the Tour. His Team Leader Armstrong who has recently come under fire for alleged inconsitences in his testimonial from 2005, managed to stay away from the local agriculture on a stage route that was identical to the one from the 2003 Tour where Joseba Beloki crashed fracturing his hip forcing the Texan rider to take a detour through a field. He later Tweeted "Bad memories of final descent into GAP where Joseba Beloki crashed in '03. He was a great rival and that crash effectively ended his career."

Meanwhile, the peloton took a gentle tempo, allowing the breakaway to clock up a massive time while they enjoyed the sunny afternoon, as they headed out of the Alps following two days of gruelling riding split between a rest day in Morzine-Avoriaz. Saving themselves for the final sprint, Hushovd, Petacchi and Cavendish did well to stay the right side of a split in the peloton on the run into Gap, with Cavendish taking 14 of the available sprint points edging closer to Hushovd in the race for the Maillot Vert.

BMC leader, Australian Cadel Evans suffered greatly yesterday, breaking down on the finish line as he lost the Maillot Jaune to Andy Schleck (SAX) having suffered a broken elbow. It is unclear at the moment whether or not he will continue on to Paris. The other major casualty of yesterday's ride was Garmin-Transitions rider, David Millar, who finished just inside the cut off, following what he later called one of the worst days of his career. It is no surprise, then, that the peloton opted to take it easy, leaving the breakaway to decided if a Frenchman would once again take the stage victory on their most celebrated national holiday.

Tomorrow the sprinters will get their chance to battle it out once again for maximum points in the Green Jersey competition. Hushovd is all to aware that his lead over main rival Cavendish is now closing the gap on the Norweigan's lead. With Cavendish sure to want to make the stage his third victory in this years Tour, and his 13th Tour victory overall, surpassing mentor Erik Zabel, Hushovd knows he must try to take as many intermediate points as possible if he is to maintain his lead.

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