Apparently losing a few gallons of blood has no impact on the Norwegian warrior Hushovd. Thor sprinted to third... while coming out of his pedal in the closing seconds of the sprint to the finish... and with the additional time bonuses he collected during the day, he was able to retake the yellow jersey from Hincapie. I have a feeling that George and the Disco Ballers were "happy" to lose the yellow. Now they don't have to defend it, but George got to have a day in yellow. He's just 10 seconds off of the podium, so there is nothing to panic about. Thor, the Norse behemoth, is back in yellow and only 3 points away from his real goal- the green jersey that is now being worn by Robbie McEwen.
Robbie rode another one of his brilliant sprints, finding the best line to the finish in the melee that is the dash for the line at the Tour. The little rocket made it almost look easy, popping up at the line just in time to claim his 9th career Tour stage win. Robbie the Rocket beat an underwhelming Boonen, bringing up more questions about his current form. It is becoming clear that this Boonen is not the same Boonen from last year's Tour. But hey, he's World Champ and has 17 race wins to his name this year... I think he sleeps ok at night.
The TV time belonged to two Spanish riders who attacked within the first kilometer and earned a gap of over 11 minutes at one point, but their day's work came up short with about 13km to go when remaining solo rider David de la Fuente of saunier-Duval was joined by Fabian Wegmann of Gerolsteiner. In the closing kilometers, Mattias Kessler of the Ullrich-less T-Mobile squad made a daring attack and almost took the biggest win of his career but was overtaken with close to 200m to the finish... close, but no cappucino!
All in all, a typical day in the office. Hushovd is in yellow again, McEwen is resplendent in green and Boonen's speed is MIA for now.
Tomorrow looks like a Spring Classic course with numerous rollers throughout the day. The finish should, if done right, come down to a small elite group of strong riders. Look for guys like Bettini or Valverde or even Boogerd (... just wanted to say "Boogerd") to make it a painful finish. However, if the right group doesn't materialize, expect the sprinter's teams to take control again. With a hard course, this should favor Boonen... if he's got the legs that got him earlier wins this year.
(Editor's note; yes, I realize that I picked Paolo Bettini as a possible winner of the stage... even though he is not even in this Tour... I just like him a lot, ok!)
Regardless, it should be another interesting day.