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Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the third.
Stage 1 of the 2011 Tour de France ended in heartbreak for defending
champion Alberto Contador, as a pair of crashes in the final kilometers left the Saxo Bank leader 1:20 behind his major GC rivals. While Andy Schleck and Brad Wiggins finished the stage just 6 seconds behind winner Philippe Gilbert, Contador fell victim to a little-known provision of the “3km Rule” which specifies that “any rider awaiting disposition of a doping appeal shall be awarded a time equal to that of Katusha’s Yury Trofimov.”
Reports that Contador was “despondent” over the time-gap spread like wildfire after the rider was photographed weeping in the arms of Saxo
Bank manager Bjarne Riis. The three-time champion’s spirits improved significantly by nightfall, however, following Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s declaration that Contador had actually won the stage.
It was against this backdrop that the riders gathered in Les Essarts for Sunday’s 23km team time trial. Under pressure to protect its beleaguered leader, Saxo Bank got off to a shaky start – ultimately finishing the stage in eighth place and dropping Contador to 75th place in the GC. In the end it was world champion Thor Hushovd who stripped the yellow jersey from Gilbert’s shoulders on the strength of Garmin-Cervelo’s stage winning effort – which also saw David Millar assume second place (at a time equal to Hushovd’s). BMC’s Cadel Evans assumed the GC podium’s third step, only one second behind the leaders.
Monday’s stage 3 promises to be a sprinters’ delight as the riders cover 198 mostly flat kilometers between Olonne-Sur-Mer and Redo. Expect HTC-Highroad’s strongest sprinter to roll his eyes and sigh loudly as he leads-out teammate Mark Cavendish in search of his first Tour stage win of 2011.
Dan’s Pick for Stage 3: Matty Goss