Jul 4, 2005

tdf - stage 3

BoonenToday was again a flat run. Everyone who was a contender was trying to keep themselves upright and get through the stage. That is essentially what happened. The only interesting thing that happened is a few riders went off the front at the beginning of the stage. This typically happens. These guys want to win hill and sprint points and possibly the stage. To win the stage this way though is to do it on your own. Three riders went off today at the 27 km mark. They helped each other by taking turns drafting and rode a lead up to 5 minutes at one point. At some point though these riders who are helping you, turn on you. They want to win the stage so the drafting comes to an end at an unknown spot. Today that didn't happen. The peloton reeled them in 4 km before the end. What a lonely pursuit that type of riding must be. This means a ton of guys in the peloton bunch sprint to the end. It can be a mess but very exciting to watch. Boonen took the stage today. He won yesterday. Quite impressive.

Tomorrow we'll see a team time trial. Each sponsored team goes out on the run separately and tries to get the best time. The stage is 42 miles long so it isn't that long. Each team will go at a fast clip. The final time awarded to each team however is not straightforward. The first team through will get that time added to each individual's total time. However the second team through will only add the winners team's score + 20 seconds to each individual's time. Third will add 30 seconds and so on. Why you ask? To limit Lance's ability to win the Tour again.

Strange as that may seem it's actually good for the sport. Lance has dominated the tour for so long, the organizers needed to do something to give other teams and riders a chance. Even if Team Discovery wins by 4 minutes the main rider in the second team will only lose 20 seconds to Lance.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the team gets a score. At least 5 riders have to cross the finish line before the time stops. This means you can only drop riders in your team up to that 5th rider. If he bogs down your team will suffer. The weakest link rules here.

Look for Lance and Team Discovery to win this. They are typically machines when it comes to time trials. Extremely efficient. Packed tightly to maximize the drafting, they rarely waver from a perfect line. Other teams are a bit of a crap shoot. Some do this type of stage well and some don't. Expect Phonak and T-Mobile to place well.

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