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 fourth.
Sunday’s team time trial victory marked a key milestone for Garmin-Cervelo, catapulting Norwegian Thor Hushovd into the yellow jersey and affirming director Jonathan Vaughters’ once-controversial decision to conduct his team’s 2011 wind tunnel testing at the Boulder Institute for Applied Sideburn Studies. Hushovd, who has taken to adorning his jersey with rainbow stripes in tribute to American screen legend Judy Garland, finished the stage on equal footing with teammate David Millar. The pair edged out BMC’s Cadel Evans by only a second.
While Garmin’s win bodes well for the team’s Tour prospects, Vaughters’ luck may be short-lived as several team members are believed to be shopping new deals for 2012. Among the potential defectors is Hushovd himself, with online reports linking the star to the rumored, all-Scandinavian IKEA-Dancing Queen squad being assembled by eccentric billionaire and reclusive ABBA front-man Benny Andersson.
Monday’s stage 3 began amidst reports that Saxo Bank’s Bradley McGee and RadioShack’s Johan Bruyneeel had each been fined 200 Swiss francs for “improper conduct toward officials” at the start of Sunday’s TTT. Making good on a warning issued last month, the UCI dispatched commissaires to assess whether each rider’s seat was parallel to the ground — causing an angry Bruyneel to offer one official a ride on what will henceforth be known as “the ol’ vertical saddle.”
On the road, it was another Garmin victory as Hushovd led American Tyler Farrar to an Independence Day sprint win. Dropping mysteriously out of view during the final kilometer was HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish, who would later explain that he — like Tom Boonen — is trying to decide whether he ever really liked sprinting in the first place.
Tuesday’s 172km stage 4 has drawn parallels to Flèche Wallonne. Finishing at the summit of a Category 3 climb (sections of which approach 15 percent), the day seems tailor-made for Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert —who won the Ardennes Classic in April.
Dan’s Pick for stage 4: Look for Cavendish to compare the Belgian champion to “a giant, crusty baguette” by Tuesday night.