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 seventh.
A 12-year-old German spectator suffered a broken nose after failing to catch the once-in-a-lifetime souvenir tossed to her by Saxo Bank-Sungard leader Alberto Contador during Wednesday’s stage 5. The rider — eager to improve his image amongst increasingly hostile roadside fans — decided to up the ante on the traditional water bottle toss, hurling a $10,000 S-Works Tarmac at the girl as he awaited his team car following the first of two unexpected crashes. The frustrated Spaniard refused questions at the finish, muttering only that “she catches like a little girl.”
Contador’s errant toss turned out to be just the beginning of his team’s bad luck as race officials also opened a formal investigation of Danish rider Nicki Sørensen.
Sørensen — who banned the letter “O” from his last name in 2009 — caught the attention of commissaires after covertly attaching his right pedal to a photographer’s motorbike as the peloton approached Cap Frehel. Cycling’s governing body has kept a vigilant watch for such “mechanical doping” since the 2010 Tour of Flanders — in which (then-Saxo Bank rider) Fabian Cancellara was briefly suspected of being a cyborg.
Thursday’s stage 6 was the second of three consecutive sprint stages. HTC-Highroad’s Mark Cavendish, fresh off his convincing 16th Tour stage win, took the intermediate sprint amidst whispers he would be working for teammate (and 2011 Milan-San Remo champion) Matt Goss for the remainder of the lengthy 226.5km stage. In the end it was Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen who narrowly edged out both Goss and GC leader Thor Hushovd at the finish in Lisieux. Given his podium finish, Hushovd will retain the yellow leader’s jersey — which he has held since Sunday’s TTT in Les Essarts.
Stage 7 is the 2011 Tour’s flattest stage. The 218km route, which contains not a single categorized climb, was introduced at the request of a small contingent of riders with greater than 2 percent body fat, known within the peloton as “les garcons du fromage.”
Dan’s Pick for stage 7: Look for the winless Alessandro Petacchi (a.k.a. “Ale Jet”) to battle hard amidst reports that his Lampre-ISD teammates have taken to calling him “Steak and Ale” behind his back.