Hah! Did I call it or what?! Yesterday I speculated that Joaquim Rodriguez with Katusha would win today at the Tour de France and he didn't let me down! Rodriguez possesses the right characteristics to excel on the nasty Mur du Huy and he appeared at the right moment to take the stage!
Todays race was nervous and fast, evidenced by the two high speed crashes that occured with around 60km to go. The first being caused by a touch of wheels and the 2nd happening within 10km of the first. The race was neutralized by the Tour organizers until most of the crash victims could get back on at the bottom of the first notable climb.
There was a lot of controversy regarding this move. Master Fitness Trainer and USACycing coach Lt. T.G Taylor told me today "Neutralization is a rare occurrence in pro cycling. I think in this case the officials did the right thing for the safetly of the riders. I think, in the end, the results would have been the same."
I tend to agree. Each crash took out a large number of riders and it was only right to let those riders get back into the race in the spirit of sportsmanship. It was also argued the medical and team vehicles were hung up behind the first crash and so were delayed in getting to the 2nd crash riders.
What I find most unfortunate is that yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara was involved in the mayhem today and he abandoned after todays stage. A trip to hospital afterwards revealed he had two fractured vertebrae and would not continue. Fabian already has one injury this year and this is a massive bummer.
Tomorrow, stage 4 brings the longest stage of this Tour at 221km. In addition to the distance, there will also be cobbled stretched to contend with. The teams will be furiously jockeying to get their GC men into place in advance and we can expect to see some insane speeds on the lead in. Look for the Dutch and Belgian teams and Sky racing to materialize near the front. These guys have a unique talent for riding on the cobbles. My prediction is for a lesser known rider to win the stage.
The GC men are going to have a nervous day tomorrow and they have to have everything go right.
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