Monday, 4 July 2011

Tyler Triumphant on Independence Day

Just as the French love a Frenchman to take a stage on Bastille Day, so too do the American's love when an American rider achieves a victory on a national holiday. Tonight Tyler Farrar is celebrating his first ever Tour de France stage win on the American Independence Day. It seems equally fitting then, that he should achieve this feat in an area of France that was also once part of Great Britain's territory.

Earlier in the day, the favourite to win the stage had been Manx Missile Mark Cavendish. Taking the intermediate sprint after a brief tussle with the Norwegian Thunder God, Thor Hushovd, he was expected to claim the stage following an almost certain bunch sprint finish in Redon. The set up of the last 2km would provide a text book finish if everything went to plan for his HTC-Highroad team. However as ever in cycling, nothing is certain and after confusion caused by Romain Feillu and Jose Joaquin Rojas saw him denied a text book sprint finish and win, he learned that he and his rival had been disqualified from the earlier sprint for their tussle which the UCI called dangerous and irregular sprinting.

Almost immediately the social networks were alive with commentators, fans and the riders themselves questioning the seemingly bizarre judgement. Hushovd offered to take full responsibility for the altercation to allow Cavendish to have his DQ overturned, an offer that Cavendish stated made him a "true gentlemen" on his twitter feed, but admitted that a change of heart from the powers that be was unlikely.

Yesterday UCI officials caused consternation amongst the cycling fraternity for the implementation of a little known and for the most part ignored ruling on the level of saddles to handlebars. With all 22 teams falling foul of this rule and 2 teams being fined for extreme breaches, but very little warning of the extra inspection and the use of a faulty gauge, questions are once again being asked about the UCIs agenda when implementing such little known rules with no advance notice and bizarre DQs that see riders lose out twice in one stage.

Tomorrow the peloton heads towards a finish on the summit of the Mûr-de-Bretagne which comes at the end of a very tough 2km incline. With a hilly run in we may be in for an exciting day as the top placed teams look to put more time into Alberto Contador and his Astana Team. With Millar and Evans breathing down the neck of Hushovd we will almost certainly see the yellow jersey coming off his shoulders by the end of the day.

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