With all due respect, who?
Wouter Weylandt stunned everyone expecting a Typer Farrar and Andre Greipel showdown. The Quick Step rider muscled his way into the HTC-Columbia train, stole Greipel’s leadout, then put on a dominating burst of power.
Weylandt hit the hole like a shifty NFL running back bursting through the line and into daylight. Text book bold, caution-to-the-wind, aggressive move and it payed multo dividends. His train hijacked, Greipel appeared so shocked that he let off the gas, drifting in at 6th place. Gorilla out-foxed.
“It was a little bit dangerous [in the finale],” said Weylandt of the final left-hand corner before the finish line. “I was thinking Greipel would go for it there so I immediately went through the middle of the corner.”
There’s tremendous pressure on Greipel to dispprove teammate Mark Cavendish’s statement that the German can’t win big races. In his post-stage comments, it appeared that Greipel was cracking under that pressure as he lashed out at Weylandt. “You didn’t do anything at all, you rotten dumbass,” he said and threatened the Belgian. Somewhere in California, Mark Cavendish is rolling on the floor laughing.
Lost in all the action, a valiant effort by Graeme Brown of Rabobank that fell just short. Brown flew up the right side, banging shoulders and gaining a dozen positions but Weylandt had too much speed. Robert Foster of Team Invisible, I mean Milram, came in third.
Tyler Farrar was nowhere to be seen. Neither the Gazzetta dello Sport or the Sporza video feed could locate him. He was in the mix, having made the front group, but got caught out in the chaos. That’s the deal with sprinters, it’s a fast win or a fast exit.
And there was plenty of chaos — and crashes and wind — to go around. Nobody could keep track of the action and say for sure who was where and why and how far ahead or behind. Sexy Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi chased most of the day and missed the drag race.
Hard luck man, Garmin’s Christian Vande Velde — no, please don’t say it — crashed and we’re guessing his collarbone is now deconstructed. The man just can’t catch a break, no wait, he just did. Argyle genius Jonathan Vaughters is shaking his head and calling bike sponsor Felt to ask about installing an airbag on Vande Velde’s handlebars.
World Champion and maglia rosa wearer Cadel Evans was also dropped and worked like a mad dog to tag back on. The Italian TV commentators went nuts complimenting Evans on his efforts — we heard the word “grinta” several times and a few multo braves.
This is the new aggressive Evans — he’s like Valverde without the secret sauce. He did the job to close the gap down but not enough to stay pink. That honor goes to Alexander Vinokourov, who managed to avoid the road furniture and keep pedaling fast. The Vino Rosa, if you will.
(more to come after latte)