A crazy crash-marred first day. Who would've thunk it? As per usual, nerves and a peloton full of over-exited racers like calves on the first day of spring made for an eventful stage. Now the dust has settled let's have a look at who came out on top and who ended up at the bottom of the pile-up.
On the attack
The Dutch / Belgian fans. All day long today it was as if the peloton was riding through a great big human tunnel of screaming, partying and admiring cycling -fans. It was a truly tremendous sight on TV and one can only imagine what it must have been like for the riders to experience it from the inside. I can't remember crowds like these since the Tour's visits to Germany (or possibly London) and judging by the rider-comments, this day even topped that. Today, with the weather and the fans, was everything the organizers could hope for when they plan these Grand Departs. Magical.
Thor Hushovd. If the green jersey previews taught us anything it is that this competition is all about consistency. With that in mind, Thor just had a great day. While his rivals were busy making unexpected left turns and stuffing their derailleurs full of foreign objects, leaving them out of the points, Thor was chugging along steadily to a respectable third place and a solid start to the Maillot Vert campaign. Like so many times in modern sport, the important thing isn't always to win, it's about not losing.
Off the back
The HTC sprint train Some days are better just forgotten. Today looked very much like one of those for HTC-Columbia. A second place for Mark Renshaw will be small comfort to the team that just saw Mark Cavendish crash out while desperately trying to regain the mojo that gave him six stagewins a year ago. To add to their woes Adam Hansen, the powerhouse of their leadout, went down and (presumably) broke his collarbone leaving an already weakened train a man short. One day into the Tour they have already conceded an advantage to Cervélo and Thor Hushovd in the fight for the green jersey and now they may be forced to use guys like Monfort and Martin even more than they had planned, thereby weakening them in the third week? Some days are better just forgotten.
Schmuck owners of puppy-dogs. Seriously. A bike race passes by in the matter of minutes. If you don't have enough care for your dog's safety and the safety of others to keep a dog on a leash for those few minutes maybe you should just stay at home or perhaps not have a dog at all?
"Do not worry Monsieur Mark, I shall keep these forum people in their place for you. Just remember: á la droite, á la droite."