Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thor de France

Stage 2 of the Tour de France proved to be much more than just a sprinter's stage. Far from being all flat, a steady string of categorized climbs made staying up front all the more challenging, and a late crash at the 2 km mark really split the peloton. The big sprinters were still up front for the finish, though, and Robbie McEwen took the win just ahead of a dejected Tom Boonen.

The real story is Thor Hushovd's return to Yellow, as his intermediate sprint efforts and a strong third place at the stage finish proved enough to send him back on top of the general classification.

Photo courtesy of Sirotti

Thor's strong riding was not without incident, however. Just one day after taking a deep cut to his right arm from a fan's sign during the finish of Stage 1, Hushovd managed to pull a foot out of his left pedal during the finale of Stage 2, nearly crashing into Robbie McEwen at 40 miles an hour. He managed to keep the bike upright and cruised across the line in third place despite pedaling with only one leg. Not too shabby.

The next few stages will remain relatively flat, so Mighty Thor may be able to keep his maillot jaune a while longer---but look for Tom Boonen. He's likely aching for a stage win after being frustrated the past two days.