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Musette du Jour: Stage 4

The Tour ramps up slowly but steadily in the first week, and with the hostilities set to begin in a big way this Saturday, it's a relief to many to have days like today, set aside purely for the sprinters. Tomorrow's ride to Caen is more of the same -- not exactly flat, and four classified climbs thrown in, but the last one is 60km from the finish, and the sprinters' teams know they can't afford to miss out on days like these.

  • News flash:Thor relegated today for "irregular sprinting" -- Boonen now on 91 points; Thor drops down; more to follow on this harsh matter!

The Green Jersey competition has been terrific, with McEwen going clear today at 100 points, followed closely by Boonen, Hushovd, Bennati and Freire all bunched together in the 80s. And but for an untimely flat, we could toss Zabel in there too. Boonen has been enigmatic, Hushovd rock-solid, McEwen spectacular (but he's at the most risk of trouble when the road turns up), and Bennati and Freire quiet and steady. Don't count Zabel out either, with his history of surviving the climbs.

Anyway to today's action:

  • Zabel's misfortune is described on the Milram team page. He flatted at the worst possible time. Sitting at 59 points, he missed his customary 20-25 points that would have him squarely in the mix.
  • Meanwhile, Davitamon wastes no time gloating over McEwen's win (link = main page; it's a flash site w/o secondary links). I think they've got a picture of him from every angle except underneath.
  • As for those spectators, Eurosport has the details, including how drunks not only develostrated* poor Sandy Casar but tried to steal his wheels as well.

    * possible word
  • Where were we? Ah yes, drugs...Velochimp has the story translated either by the Chimp or another source from Gazzetta dello Sport, undoubtedly on page 13 with the rest of the non-soccer stories.

Bonus! there's still more:

  • Valverde's camp is already talking about his fitness for the Vuelta -- told to Eurosport (no link supplied).
  • Broken back and all, Stuart O'Grady made it to the start today... and the finish too!
The pain is bearable for him, and he decided to continue. We'll see how it goes inside the bunch today. We don't expect him to sprint in Saint Quentin though, that would not be fair.
  • Didn't know about Horner yesterday... like O'Grady, he started and finished today...
Chris Horner reached the finish, and was immediately taken to Dr Claes in close by Mol. Till now, no fracture has been discovered. So there is still a good chance to se Chris at the start this morning.
  • Andreas Kloden is a class act: he starts his diary (an actually entertaining daily matter) with the words "forza Italia"... nice writeup of the WC tensions between the Germans and Italians on the squad. No doubt Milram is equally riven by the action.