Another uphill finish, another win for Sagan (Liquigas), the kid has so much talent. The rain held off yesterday, but the combination of hills, wind and crashes split the peloton into a number of smaller groups, with perhaps 40 riders in the final “selection”. With those chasing the General Classification (Yellow Jersey) having to stay in at the front to avoid losing any time to their rivals, they and their “helpers” were squeezed up at the front of the race with those chasing the stage victory. Added to that everyone still suffering from 1st week nerviness, and crashes are part and parcel of the first week. There was even one in the last 3km, as a Vacansoleil rider brought down a handful of riders, including Sky’s Chris Froome (2nd in the Tour of Spain (3rd biggest race on the calendar) last year). However, Controversy #1, rather than wait for those affected to get back on their bikes, team Movistar drove the pace on, splitting the race but losing friends and influence in the process. Controversy #2 (at least in the twittersphere) was Sagan’s victory celebration, reminiscent of Forrest Gump’s “run Forest run”, a joke with his friends “they told me to win, so I won… ‘Win Sagan Win'”. Didn’t go down too well with a bunch of armchair fans, but then what do they know (ahem).
Karma struck however, when Jose Joachim Rojas (Movistar, 2nd in last years Points Competition (Green Jersey)) was caught in a crash and forced to retire. Bit of a blow for Movistar‘s “consistency” challenge, they’ll now be focusing on the mountains. The other abandonment of the day was Sky‘s Kanstantsin Siutsou, who fractured his left tibia in a crash and was forced to have surgery last night – these guys aren’t playing about. Despite this Sky still managed to place Edvald Boasson-Hagen in 2nd place, extending the teams lead in the “consistency” competition.
Today’s stage is not too lumpy, so another sprint is on the cards, and if they hold it together there shouldn’t be any change in the team classification. However, with long sections of coastline cross winds could split it up again, and the peloton is still twitchy… Orica-Greenedge‘s Matt Goss and Lotto-Belisol‘s André Greipel will be Cavendish’s main rivals for the win, but if things don’t go to plan, don’t rule out Rabobank‘s Mark Renshaw or Lampre‘s Alessandro Pettacchi. Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) is now looking unlikely to lose the Yellow Jersey before the first mountains in stage 7.
Stage 4 details are here. If you’re watching the highlights on TV (ITV4 7pm-8pm), probably only worth tuning in for the last 20 minutes, unless you like filler(?!)
Oh, and this is a bit of a giggle if you have the interest/time (Cav is a “Lycra-clad hobo”)