Didn't I tell you there was going to be disaster when the race hit the cobbles? Crashes, bikes everywhere, big timegaps, injuries, pissed off riders..... what..the cobbles are tomorrow? What the heck was today then? Well it was a strange day that was better for some than for others.
On the attack
Sylvain Chavanel. Once heralded (and paid) as the next great French Tour-champion only to disappoint miserably. Since then he has re-created himself as a classics-beast on Quick Step, winning the respect of fans with a string of powerful displays on Belgian spring-roads. Well, today he once again finds himself in the spotlight on the cyclingworld's biggest stage with a well deserved win in Spa. Regardless of what went on behind him he earned his win today, attacking after 10 km and then riding his breakaway-companions off his wheel on the Ardennes climbs. Being a very competent climber we could very well see Chavanel hang on to the Yellow Jersey for a very long time. The guy rides with a tremendous amount of heart and it will be a treat watching him fight for the jersey.
Saxo Bank. It seems odd to call a team that just lost the Yellow Jersey and had both their captains hit the deck winners but there you go. In the end some quick thinking and a dominating performance by Fabian Cancellara combined with a healthy dose of good luck (and teaspoon of Jens!-magic) kept their Tour-hopes alive. As long as neither of the Schlecks sustained any serious injuries Bjarne Riis should count himself as one of the luckiest bastards in Spa tonight.
Off the back
Belgian fans in Spa The discussion on the right and wrong of the peloton's riding after the big crash on the Col de Stockeu will no doubt go on for a loooong time but no one can argue that the big losers today were those hordes of fans who had assembled for an exciting stage finish in Spa. Those guys got royally screwed. While we may feel a lot of sympathy for the pain and hardships of the riders surely they should also spare a thought for those who take the time to travel and turn out to see the race. There were lots of appreciative tweets about the fan turn-out yesterday but when push came to shove the riders didn't do much to repay those roadside fans today did they?
Garmin. We don't know the full extent of Garmin's Black Monday yet but having both their GC-captain and their sprinter in tears and shipped off to hospital should be enough to earn them the "Most Unlucky" title. For their sake let's hope the images made it look worse than it really was but at the very least the hopes for a Top 10 placing for Christian Vande Velde were lost on that oil-slick descent in the Ardennes. Should things be as bad as we think, Garmin is going to have to dig deep in their bag of tricks to come up with a Plan C that can salvage their Tour de France. We all know David Millar riding for the GC isn't it and they can't really cruise around waiting for a Zabriskie or Millar win in that Stage 19 timetrial can they?
"When I race I race all the way to the finish-line. I may be a bird but I'm not chicken"