Christophe Moraeu can be added to the list of contenders that are not in a place to contend. Team Astana struck like a cobra in the crosswinds of the transitional stage to help put Moreau out of contention in the Tour de France. Maybe Astana was exacting a bit of revenge or just happened to take advantage of an opportunity to gain back time for Vino. Whichever, any GC contender has to be on alert at all times. Resting can only be done when you get back to the hotel.
These transitional stages from the Alps to Pyrennes are dangerous. Overal GC contenders cannot rest at all times because you never know what will happen. Most everyone chilled out yesterday as a large break consisting of the indefatigable Jens Voight came in for the win. The win by 36 year old Cedric Vassuer capped off a stage where everyone more or less was in recovery mode following the Alps. Today was a different story.
The first hour of racing covered 50km as break after break went and was reeled back in. The bunch was nervous with breaks trying for glory and crosswinds. Crosswinds are a bitch. You get wind no matter where you are, and can only draft the person in front of you by riding on one side or another. In a pro peloton crosswinds can quickly split up the group and form echelons all over the place. Basically tiny groups of guys riding in diagonal line formation split by just a few seconds.
Moreau was involved in a crash and found himself flounder off the back of the peloton getting medical assistance. His badly ripped up shorts reminiscent of Vinos crash a week ago. Just as Vino was caught out as the bunch roared to the finish line, Moreau suffered a similar fate.
Moreau’s reaction was even tempered with a touch of bitterness.
“What Vino did was not unfair,” conceded Moreau. “Settling scores is part of the sport. When I attacked [in the Alps] he was not well. Today I was the one who was not that well. But the Tour is far from finished. It could have been even worse. I was well-supported by my team, because at one moment I was near a breaking point.
“In the Tour, you have to get over these sort of days, even if it isn’t easy. Perhaps something good may come out of the bad. Perhaps now I will have more chances of an opening, more room to move. It’s a black day that I will have to forget.”
In the final run to the finish Vino launched a mini attack to show he is feeling like his old self again. Then a crash knocked out some of the big sprinteres still left in the group leaving a smaller group to contend for the stage win. Robbie Hunter capitalized on all of this and won ahead of a surprising Cancellara and an improving Fischer.