Riders remaining: 186
Distance: 193 km
- Côte de Veuilly-la-Poterie 1.0 km; 5.2%; 4 category
- Côte de Doucy 1.9; 4.9%; 4 category
- Côte de Galbaux 2.4 km; 3.8%; 4 category
- Côte de Bel-Air 1.3km; 5.4%; 4 category
Day four and all is well on the roads of France, at least for most of the riders. Today’s finish was fast and exciting, but no one hit the deck (praise the Lord!). After a number of crashes over the first few days of the Tour, three competitors have been forced to abandon: Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spain) of Team Agritubel, Tomas Vaitkus (Lithuania) of Team Discovery Channel, and Xabier Zandio (Spain) of Team Caisse d’Epargne. Several other notable riders are also nursing injuries, among them Robbie McEwen (Australia) of Team Predictor-Lotto, Fred Rodriguez (USA) of Team CSC, and Francisco Ventoso (Spain) of Team Saunier Duval.
Each day, as I watch the race on live television (if I get that chance), I also keep tabs on the race newsflashes as they come into the official Tour de France website. Over the past several days, some interesting information has been posted:
- The opening day of the race was the 37th birthday of sprinter Erik Zabel.
- The Tour de France began with a prologue for the first time in 1967.
- Vladimir Gusev turned 25 years old three days before the start of racing.
- Thirty-two riders are eligible for the white “youth” jersey.
- Team Saunier-Duval participates in an initiative to donate one tree for every kilometer that a member of their squad spends in an escape during the 2007 Tour de France.
Oh, and I can’t forget the story behind the race abandonment of Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez from Team Agritubel:
The Spaniard who made his Tour debut last year…suffered a shocking fate in the opening road stage; while returning to the peloton after collecting drinks for his team-mates, a car in front of him slammed on its brakes and the 23-year-old had no where to go…he smashed the rear window of the Caisse d’Epargne team car and only just avoided being struck by the car that was following. “It’s a terrible thing to lose a good rider like him on the first day, but when I see the shock I realize that it could have been a lot worse. The car that was behind him missed hitting him by just 20 cm.And people think cycling is dull. Hmm.
Team Discovery Channel status
The guys stayed out of the fray today, probably in an attempt to remain safe and let the sprinters vie for top honors. George Hincapie dropped to fifth place overall due to the spectacular finish by Thor Hushovd (Netherlands) of Team Credit Agricole, which propelled him into second. Vladimir Gusev still owns the white jersey and, to my surprise, lies in 8th place overall. He has actually spent the last several days within the top ten of the General Classification, an impressive feat for a “beginner.” Excellent results, gentlemen; keep it up.