It was good fun today in southern France, where fans got a rare treat when a rather elite break escaped close to the finish on a relatively flat course, eclipsing the bunch sprinters' ambitions. Fabian Wegmann, whose sprinter's pedigree is very-good-not-great, traded in a top ten finish with the gang for a win and the leader's jersey with a well-timed four-man counterattack at the foot of the Cote de Rapoux, 14km from the line. Wegmann bested Thomas Voeckler at the line, just ahead of break partners Egoi Martinez and Francisco Mancebo, and 13 seconds ahead of the peloton.
I had Wegmann as a possible winner in my hurried preview, though I keep forgetting he's not a classic sprinter, but anyway I only picked him behind Hushovd and after forgetting about Danilo Napolitano. Still, he was an obvious contender, and having him jump the field on the last short climb is slightly startling. This is one of those races that I would've yawned if I'd only read about it, but was actually tons of fun to see live. The lesson is: always watch cycling.
Tomorrow is another non-climbers' stage, by Free Dolphin Crit standards... it's only got four cat-4 lumps in the road, any single one of which would kill me, but the peloton has a chance of staying together. Problem is, there isn't much of a sprinters' game to this race, so the few teams who want to hold things together don't have much authority. Look for more breaks and an unexpected winner. Or Napolitano, if somehow Lampre can deliver him to the fore.