Alesandro Pettachi, a blast from the past, has reemerged as a sprinter to reckon with
But the Phoenix has risen. Pettachi's Stage 1 victory might have been suspect with most of the other sprinters sprawled on the ground in the biggest crash in Tour history. But on this day he beat some great sprinters at the line of a classic sprint finish. He beat Mark Cavendish, who was supposed to have dominated the sprint-finishes this year. Granted, USA's Tyler Farrar is still nursing crash wounds and wasn't in the mix, but Pettachi has asserted himself in this opportunity quite well. One thing's for sure, the battle for the Green Jersey will continue throughout the Tour.
All of the contenders for the General Classification tucked in and rode safely in the peloton in Stage 4. No shake ups, just status quo.
Two more relatively long and moderate terrain stages remain before the Tour hits the Alps. Stage 5 on Thursday should be another one for the sprinters. Let's see if Mark Cavendish challenges Pettachi. Or, it could be Robbie McEwen. Stage 6 is not flat and it is the longest stage of the Tour. Some have predicted Contador will make a move in Stage 6 (but I don't think so). Stage 7 moves into the Alps. Stage 8 is the first mountain-top finish before a much-needed rest day for the battered and bruised.
It's a long way to Paris. After the Alps are the Pyrenees--more treacherous than the Alps. And after the Pyrenees is the Individual Time Trial on the next-to-last stage. The Tour champion will emerge in the Pyrenees and confirm his lead in the ITT, I think. But who? Cadel Evans? Lance Armstrong? Denis Menchov? Alberto Contador? Bradley Wiggins?