The Week That Was...
Ian Melvin comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
So we?re a week into the Tour de France and what have we learned so far? Well, it?s probably safe to say that after four stage victories Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) is the fastest man on two wheels at present. His victories this week have been displays of sheer dominance; no one has been able to even challenge the flying Italian. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Five times winner of the Green Points jersey, Eric Zabel, said of his rival, ?Petacchi is the sprinter. He is the best sprinter in the world at the moment.? I just hope that his abandonment yesterday on the way to the finish at Morzine isn?t the start of a trend for Petacchi; a rider of his talent should fight to make their way over the cols back to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Taking over the green jersey from Petacchi is Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com). Winner of one stage already in this year?s TdF, Cooke now has the full support of former yellow jersey wearer Brad McGee - for the rest of this year at least. ?We?re putting it together for the next few years to go for the complete GC,? said McGee.
Of the other Aussies, Stuart O?Grady (Credit Agricole) stared in the longest break of the race so far, over two hundred kilometers in Friday?s stage. His DS, Roger Legeay later said, ?He is really part of the team family, having been with us since the age of 19. He?s a man built for the Tour.?
Fellow Aussie Sprinter, Robbie McEwen, seems more interested in wallowing in his own self-pity following his inability to score a stage victory thus far. ?If you can?t finish better than fifth or sixth all the time, you don?t deserve the Green (jersey). You have to be honest with yourself.?
One rider to continue watching with interest, and fourth on yesterday?s stage to Morzine is the rapidly improving Michael Rogers. Don?t be surprised to see him up there in at least one other stage in the mountains.
Rider of the race so far must surely go to Tyler Hamilton. Suffering two hair-line cracks in his collarbone in the stage one crash into the finish at Meaux, the gutsy rider has continued in the race firstly with the intention of helping his team mates do a ride in Wednesday?s team time trial and now with the intention of getting a result for himself. ?I?ve done the Tour six times. I want to finish this one but finish it well. If I?m not able to attack in the mountains then it?s over.?
Race favorite Lance Armstrong has so far had a quiet