CANCELLARA STILL IN YELLOW. No one would have predicted that Fabian Cancellara would still be wearing the Yellow Jersey at the end of this first mountain stage. But there he was, at the head of the peloton heading into Autun. And there he was, missing a downhill turn, going off into the grass (he quickly corrected and finished with the lead bunch). And there he was, donning the maillot jaune for the sixth day in a row.
VINO FALLS BEHIND. No one would have predicted that race favorite Alexandre Vinokourov would lose over minute against his main rivals on this 182.5-kilometer stage that provided no less than eight categorized climbs. But there he was, sprawling beside the road, badly scraped and bleeding. And there he was, charging hard the last 30 kilometers of the course, trying to catch the main peloton. The Kazakh fell 1'24" behind his main rivals this day. That's a significant gap he will likely work hard to erase in the Alps beginning on Sunday.
POPPO AT THE LINE. No one would have predicted another bunch sprint finish in this mountain stage. But there they were, charging toward the line at over 50 miles per hour after 113 miles and eight climbs. The day's glory went to a 25-year old Italian who made a public prediction yesterday that he would win today's stage. Filippo Pozzato out-manuevered and out-kicked his fellow sprinters to win the stage by a wheel. It was his first stage win in the Tour de France.
TOO FAST, TOO FURIOUS. There were lots of wrecks and injuries during today's stage; more than usual. Several contenders were involved in crashes. Andreas Kloden, last year's third-place finisher, crashed and may have fractured his arm. The pace was also very fast, which does not bode well for tired legs heading into the mountain stages. Those cyclists who can recover well will be ready for Sunday's monster stage 8; those who have spent themselves on the flats will fall far behind. Anyone thinking this year's Tour de France would be lackluster because some of the "big names" aren't present were sorely wrong.