Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the second.
The 2011 Tour de France got underway Saturday with Omega Pharma-Lotto powerhouse Philippe Gilbert taking control of the maillot jaune following a crash-marred, uphill sprint on the Mont des Alouettes.
The race started with a bang on the (sadly shark-free) Passage du Gois when German sprinter Andre Greipel became the first man to hit the tarmac. Earning 100 bonus points for crashing during the neutralized
start, Greipel is now considered a favorite for the Boniva Crashers’ Jersey. The smart money, however, remains on perennial favorite Christian Vande Velde. Voted “Most Brittle” by his senior class, Vande Velde is expected to exit the race within days — leaving the GC leadership of Garmin-Cervelo to “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.”
The stage also marked the first since a rules change prioritizing intermediate sprints in the green jersey points competition. Under these rules the peloton’s premiere sprinters will battle each day for fourth place behind a break comprised of three domestiques chosen at random from a beret. Today’s “chapeau champion,” Jeremy Roy of FDJ, picked up the first 20 points — but it was Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar who took the real prize, besting Greipel and an over-confident Mark Cavendish in the actual sprint in Avrille.
A pair of crashes split the field in the final kilometers causing GC favorites Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Bradley Wiggins to lose touch with the leaders on the approach to the Mont des Alouettes.
Sunday’s stage 2 will mark the Tour’s 23 km team time trial, which could determine control of the yellow jersey over the next several days. The stage will start with two fewer teams, however, as gun-shy BMC and Omega Pharma-Lotto both released statements Saturday claiming
never to have met their riders.
Dan’s Pick for stage 2’s TTT: Katusha (no one can work for the collective good like the Russians)