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 sixth.
French gendarmes reacted swiftly to reports of a man brandishing a finger pistol near Tuesday’s stage 4 finish on the Mûr-de-Bretagne. A 28-year-old Spanish man was taken into custody at the scene – but was later released – after authorities established that he possessed a permit for the weapon and had simply drawn it in error. No shots were fired.
Tempers continued to flare, meanwhile, as officials with the International Cycling Union (UCI) conducted a new round of spot checks at the start – infuriating team directors who question the Union’s surprise enforcement of little-known rules. Hit particularly hard were Vacansoleil-DCM (which saw six of its nine riders ejected from the race for failing to wear the arms of their sunglasses over their helmet straps) and Rabobank’s Maarten Tjallingii, who was fined 200 Swiss francs for insistence upon typing his name using a sticky keyboard.
Wednesday’s crash-strewn stage 5 saw GC contenders tossing their bikes in frustration, an apparently-drunken intermediate sprint (from which Movistar green jersey holder Jose Joaquin Rojas and Quick Step’s Tom Boonen were later relegated for swerving wildly into the path of Mark Cavendish) and the departure of Radio Shack’s Jani Brajkovic, who suffered both a concussion and a fractured collarbone in a dramatic mid-stage crash.
Those left standing came galloping onto the peninsula of Cap Frehel where HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish silenced critics with a dominating 16th TDF stage win. Speaking through an English language translator, the Manxman thanked his teammates and loudly invited a passing race official to “relegate this.”
Garmin-Cervelo’s Thor Hushovd again raced well enough to retain GC leader status, while Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert inherited Rojas’ green sprinter’s jersey.
Thursday’s stage 6 marks the 2011 Tour’s single longest stage at 226.5km – roughly the distance between Seattle and Omaha. Look for a sprint finish to be contested by a group of thoroughly selfish young men with no regard for how you’ll feel watching them cover a distance you’ll never hope to ride in a single day – let alone for the sixth straight. Jerks.
Dan’s Pick for stage 6: Electrolytes. Oh … and him again.