This year’s Tour Down Under is certainly upside down. What was hyped as a big name sprinter’s cage match has turned into a surprising battle between sprinters we don’t usually hear from — like stage three’s winner Michael Matthews (Rabobank)
How to explain Mark Cavendish coming in 130th in stage two and three? Remarkable consistency but shocking all the same. Sure, the new story is he’s still got a few pounds to lose, isn’t ready to kill Andre Greipel and just wants to help push the HTC-Highroad train. But 130th, from the Manxman?
How to comprehend Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) nowhere near the front, finishing in a blazing 129th yesterday and then rocketing his way to 90th today? Yes, he’s been caught in a few crashes but seriously, just making the top 100 wasn’t the plan, was it? This is proof of the Twisted Spoke prediction: less argyle means less speed. Diamonds are a sprinter’s best friend.
Italian speedster Francesco Chicchi, billed as a challenger to Farrar and Cavendish, jumped hard and earned himself 123rd. Hooray for the Sheriff. Go back to the store and buy some extra fast twitch fibers.
Something has gone horribly wrong when Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) and Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) sprint for 6th and 7th place while the big guns ride at the back. Even Lance Armstrong must be wondering what the fluke is happening.
Only Andre Greipel seems to have showed up in form and ready to challenge. He was beaten by Matt Goss on stage one and second again in stage three, losing to mystery guest Michael Matthews. At least Greipel is taking this thing Tour Down Under seriously and making his Omega-Druga-Lotto boys ride hard.
Who knows what will happen in stage four? Our pick is Bruno Pires of Leopard-Trek. Why? Because things are crazy Down Under.