Pippo Pozzato pulls off a nice win. I'd call it a "surprise" win, but he's a former winner of Milan San Remo and I predicted that a classics rider would likely win today (so why I didn't pick him... not too sure). The surprise, if there is one, is that he got the win sprinting through a pretty select group that included new green jersey Erik Zabel. Zabel is now 36 years old and is wearing the green jersey. He's only one year younger than me, so maybe I should really and truly come out of retirement now. Zabel is also a 6 time winner of the green jersey during his career. It'd be hard for him to get #7, but I am unwilling to rule it out. He's certainly a sentimental favorite... despite his recent doping confession ("I only tried it for part of one season"... lame).
Pozzato is a very classy young rider, only 25 years old. He's already got wins under his belt that other riders would wait an entire career to have... and his best years are easily ahead of him. This young man could prove to be one of the best Italian classics riders to show up since Franco Ballerini or Michele Bartoli... and that's saying something.
The day, though exciting enough for the winner, was probably more exciting for the drama prior to the finish when Astana riders were caught up in crashes. Andreas Kloden kissed the asphalt with his ass cheeks a little more than 100km into the race, but (butt?) was able to chase back into the field and finish with the main group. Sadly, it looks like he may have fractured his tail bone and is now in question for tomorrow's stage. With about 25km to go, Vinoukorov hit the deck when he had problems with his chain. He went over the bars and landed hard- ripping open his shorts (and exposing his ass cheek) and really banged up his knee as well. Vino in a moment of need, called for his team to come to his aid to help him catch the field. The break up the road was being chased hard by the field, so Vino and the Astana team had to essentially time trial to minimize their leader's losses. In the end, Vino lost a minute and a half and is going to have a hard day tomorrow with his sore knee and other muscles problems that follow a hard crash. Could his Tour hopes be dead? They could be, but it is certain that he will not go down without a fight... you can bank on that.
Neither BK or myself had a particularly good day with our predictions... so the score remains the same and now I have to try and pick a winner. Since tomorrow's stage is nearly flat, with just two cat 4 climbs and then a 45km nearly flat run to the finish line, a sprint is all but assured. With that in mind, I'm gonna go out on a limb and pick Hushovd and Napolitano for tomorrow. One of the two should be in the top four tomorrow... please. (I can't let Jessi win...)
Fun stuff (marginally Tour related); go read this little gem by Bob Roll, over at the Kryptonite blog. Pure poetry... Bobke style.