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Tour de France 2011 Stage 8 Who’s left to challenge

Bravo to Cavendish for a repeat of a stage win where he won his first in the 2008 Tour; and what a great day for him, making his 17th stage win of his Tour career.

Stage 7 decimated the field of favorites with more crashes, the loss of Tom Boonen and Bradley Wiggins, and injuries stealing time from other potential GC contenders. Radio Shack has the worst track record for crashes, thus far, it appears.

Boonen has not had the greatest of luck at the Tour, this is his 4th time out. It’s tough enough to have not been included on the team in the past for drug problems, but injuries have plagued him, as well, in other Tours. The scene of him sitting on the side of the road after a crash that caused his knee injury is still so clear in my mind. So, we learned that, this time, he suffered a concussion. Better to have made the difficult decision to step off the bike than to try to push on. Back to Monaco he’ll go after seeing his doctors, not so bad a destination for recovery.

Bradley Wiggins (AP)

Bradley Wiggins (AP)


Bradley Wiggins was looking great and we were hoping to see him rise to the top. He’s one we’d like to see return next year and show his full potential. Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery.

Chris Horner is in a scary situation, staying overnight in hospital to make sure he has not suffered as serious a head injury as it looked in overhead shot of him lying motionless in the ditch. He had made the comment before the beginning of the stage that his mom sent him a text saying to be safe. As a mom, I can only imagine what she was feeling, seeing the broadcast.

UPDATE: Chris has a broken nose and an injury to his right leg that will keep him from continuing the race, another major loss for Team Radio Shack.

Contador rose back up in the rankings, even though he’s still 1’42” behind Hoshovd. But, in spite of what anyone thinks about his doping charges, he’s phenomenal in the mountains and he’ll need to make sure he plays his strategy right to position himself well enough to close the time gap.

Cross-winds are to cyclists like wind shear to aircraft. Sprinter Tyler Farrar lost a lost of time after the crash that took out Wiggins, and he’s now 16 mins behind the GC leader. That’s a chunk of change to make up in order to try for a place on the podium. Chris Horner is almost 13 minutes behind; while Philippe Gilbert is much better positioned, as are the Schlecks.

Who’s left to challenge the G-C for the GC we shall see. Predictions, even by Thor Hoshovd, is that he’ll be relinquishing the yellow jersey to a new bearer after the steep climb into ski country. I’m looking at the standings and seeing Cadel Evans, the Schlecks, Andreas Kloden, Philippe Gilbert and even Vinokourov. This is not a finish for sprinters, so it’s more likely those with legs for the mountains will prevail. Who will rise, who will fall…literally, the way this Tour is going!

Tour de France 2011 Stage 6 Normandy invasion

What a mess Stage 5 became with the wind, the weather, the crashes (Paul Sherwin stopped counting after 10 of them). Unfortunately, Slovenian rider Janez Brajkovic of Team Radioshack ended up in hospital, with a head injury from one of those bad crashes. Here’s wishing him a speedy recovery and return to the Tour in 2012. Let’s also hope that Tom Boonen is not as injured as he looked; crash seems to be his middle name. In the end, the Cav-man captured the stage win in a wild sprint to the finish, just as we’ve all been waiting for him to do. Gotta love that!

Hopefully, Stage 6 won’t be as hard on the boys as they roll into Normandy, but it will be challenging to sprinter and climber alike. El Contador has been trying to make a little progress of his own, in spite of 2 crashes yesterday; perhaps he’ll have a better day. As of yesterday, he’s in 39th place, 1’42” behind the Mighty Thor who keeps the maillot jaune another day.

So, with the route not necessarily favoring the top riders, or sprinters, or climbers, what will happen in Lisieux? Will Gilbert win another stage that just might look like it’s made for him? Anything can happen, they’re only a week in.