This will be brief, since the biggest losers are the guys whose names will show up in the crash open post a few inches below.
- Gert Steegmans... winner! Question: why is this guy riding shotgun rather than driving another car? He's not quite an elite sprinter, but he's close enough to warrant a shot.
- Tom Boonen... on my ride in I had the "loser" post written in my head, but by the time I got to work I'd changed my mind. Sure, he lost to a teammate, and I didn't see anything on video that made me think he wasn't trying. Will look again later to see if he looked back and saw the big gap they'd opened up. But Boonen is an interesting case. Unlike his main competition, guys like Hushovd and McEwen who can afford to build their biggest peak for the Tour, Boonen is under absolute instructions to have a huge spring campaign. His biggest peak starts in March and extends (hopefully) to somewhere close to the Scheldeprijs finish line in mid-April. For the second year running, his secondary Tour peak doesn't seem to contain the same closing speed he sports in April -- news flash: the guy is human -- but if his stage prospects look grim right now, his maillot vert chances do not. Third yesterday, second today... Boonen has enough experience now to know that consistency wins, and so far, he's shown that consistency.
- The Quick Step train... winners! What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was a complete mess, and today was a strange finale with the crash and all, but they nailed the leadout, just 24 hours after looking utterly clueless. Let's see if they can do it again off home soil, and with the Milram and Lampre trains getting in their way.
- Robbie McEwen... loser. Not of his own doing, and he's still a mere point out of the green. But if Freddy Rodriguez is too hurt to go on, Robbie will be trying for green all by his lonesome. Assuming the points race stays close, this means intermediate sprints will count. Contrast Boonen's massive support with McEwen's naked exposure, and you can see how he won't have it easy. Also, after today McEwen said both his knees are bothering him from his tumble yesterday, so his outlook is far from clear. It'd truly suck if he went out injured.
- Thor Hushovd and Daniele Bennati... losers! Thor got planted in the crash, and is hopefully OK, but his second yesterday had him in prime position. Now he's 26 points back. Bummer! Bennati, meanwhile, missed the sprint yesterday, and came in second-to-last today, killing off his Green Jersey aspirations. Perhaps he'll show up on the injured list before the day is over.
- Then there's this. "I am not going to risk my life to win a sprint," said 'Pippo' Pozzato. Dude, if that's how you feel, stay out of the sprints. Sure, this is pretty much my attitude at some local crit, but then cycling isn't my day job. And I didn't block out Robbie McEwen at the Tour today.
- Update [2007-7-9 16:25:4 by chris]: Nick Nuyens... winner! By being the last Belgian in the peloton as the race passed through Diksmuiden, Nuyens wins the day's big prize, 250kg (some 550 pounds) of butter. Of course, as a cyclist, he can't eat any of it until he retires.