The Pyrenees are behind us and until Sunday it’s flat and fast. Plenty of sprints to be contested and if yesterday’s stage is anything to go by then we could be in for some tough team tactics.
In the final of the sprint in to St Malo yesterday we saw two teams that had managed to hone the fine art of a sprint train and one team who managed to fail miserably in the same art. Lotto-Belisol looked to have the stage sewn up when they took the final KM’s by the scruff of the neck and absolutely tore the pace up. The only other team looking like they had enough firepower to take the Belgium squad on was Argos Shimano, while Quickstep looked as though their engines never fired.
Argos looked to still be lagging. With Lotto lead-out man Greg Henderson at the front in the last kilometre, he looked as though he had the finish set up perfectly for team captain, Greipel. Unfortunately, Greipel made a mistake, slowing down only slightly in a corner which resulted in him losing a ton of speed. This let Kittel of Argos finally make up the few metres he was needing to shoot past and take the win, but only by a wheel length.
The talking point of the race was Cavendish and Tom Veelers getting in a scuffle and Veelers hitting the tarmac at what would have easily been 65kmph. Cavendish took third behind Kittel and Greipel. Was the crash Cav’s fault? As a spectator it was honestly impossible to say yes or no with any confidence. The guys in the bunch are the ones to look to on a situation like this and the opinion is split. Some see Cav’s manoeuvres as dangerous and unnecessary in the final metres as he was never going to get around the two German riders. Others say it was just one of those things that happen when traveling at 70kmh in a race final!
Will Cav find the spring again to take a few stage wins or have the teams of Argos and Lotto finally got the upper hand over the pocket rocket? We will not find out today as it’s a Time Trial. Tomorrow though will be a completely different question.