WITHOUT McEWEN. Well, my question is: why wasn't Robbie McEwen one of the top five sprinters at the finish line in this wide open bunch sprint finish at the end of Stage 6? It was not a surprise that Tom Boonen was there. It was not a surprise that Eric Zabel was there, or Oscar Freire. But where's the Aussie who usually thrives in such a chaotic, 50-mph charge to the line? The answer may be in injuries suffered during Stage 1. We'll see.
BOONEN IN GREEN...AGAIN. Boonen's back in the Green Jersey with today's win. It's shaping up to be a contest between he, Zabel and Hushovd at this point. McEwen's points are adding up; Boonen and Zabel's points are multiplying. I'm pulling for Robbie, but wouldn't mind seeing Boonen take the Green in Paris. Regarding the sprinter in the Tour de France over the past few years, my quip has been: "Anybody but Pettachi." Of course, Pettachi is sidelined from this Tour because of some discrepancies in the amount of prescription medication in his blood.
BIDING THEIR TIME. Where, o where, are the mountains? The cyclists who are contending for the overall win (General Classification, Yellow Jersey) must be going stir crazy riding along in the peloton. They tuck in and try to stay out of harm's way. They let a few escapees grab momentary glory. They dismiss the sprinter who will surely fall far behind in the mountains. They bide their time. They conserve their resources. They antcipate their opportunities...which begin tomorrow and Sunday. Sunday will decimate many. My, how this race is about to change.
PREDICTIONS FOR STAGE 7. Let me go out on a limb and make a few predictions for how things will look at the end of tomorrow's Stage 7, which includes a Category 1 climb toward the end of a long trek:
- Fabian Cancellara will yield the Yellow Jersey. It's been a nice ride, Fabian; you wore it well.
- American George Hincapie will don the Yellow Jersey. Andreas Kloden (currently 2nd GC) is injured and the rest of the top ten are not climbers. All Hincapie (currently 6th GC at 43 seconds behind Cancellara) has to do is hang with the main group at the finish to emerge with the maillot jaune...at least for the day. If not Hincapie, then possible his Russian teammate Vladimir Gusev, current wearer of the White Jersey.
- Frenchman Christophe Moreau, American Levi Leipheimer, Australian Cadel Evans, Russian Denis Menchov and Spaniards Oscar Periero and Alejandro Valverde will move into the Top Ten in the General Classification. This will begin the real selection of who will be on the podium in Paris.
- Alexandre Vinokourov will move closer to his rivals, making up time lost in Stage 5. I look for him to make his real moves next week.