If you crash 600M from the line, robbing yourself of a Tour stage win you A) cry into your Perrier at the team dinner or B) go to the hotel room and cry all over your brie?
An animated and soggy day turned the almost joy of one poor, hapless French rider on a French team into a bundle of joy for a 25 year old Italian on an Italian team. Without the sprint power of the Ale Jet, Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo has been decidedly outgunned so far this Tour. Little quickster Bernucci turned all of that around today in a sketched-out sprint on wet roads.
The race was punctuated by attacks for much of the day and Mengin got involved early on. With just a little less than 15km remaining, Mengin launched himself out of the fading break and looked to be headed for the podium. With less than 2km remaining Alexander (I can attack all day every day) Vinokourov catapulted out of the front of the field in pursuit of Mengin and the winless-as-a-pro Bernucci tagged along for fun.
Coming into the final turn, with less than 1km remaining, Mengin apparently slipped on the wet paint stripe crossing the road and slid into the barriers. Bernucci slipped past unscathed as Vino put a foot down to remain upright and settled for second and the time bonuses. Poor Mengin, as insult to injury, then got plowed into by the chasing field while he lay on the ground (probably contemplating the Champagne that almost was). Now he gets to look like he was in a bar fight and not a bike race, thanks to the nice black eye he got.
Not much happened to the GC, though Vino moved up to 3rd and Voigt moved down to 4th. Otherwise, things at the top are relatively unchanged.
Tomorrow the race will move into Germany and it is likely to be more of the same bad weather as today. Look for the German teams and riders to put on a show. I still think Voigt is going to throttle it and send people into the gutters... but he's been holding back so far.
Should be another wet and whacky ride tomorrow.