Eurosport called it “arguably the most farcical day in cycling history.” With 50k to go, and a break of three riders six minutes up the road, the entire Benelux Tour peleton and caravan drove off-course. The snafu, the result of an absent course marshall, was rectified a few minutes later by local boy and GC leader Rik Verbrugghe, who led the troops over an additional climb and back to the race course. By then, though, Christian VandeVelde, Jason McCartney, and Bart Dockx had andvantage of nearly 15 minutes. Not suprisingly, the break was less than psyched when officials told them to wait so the peleton could catch back up, and only after a policeman physically restrained Dockx (and McCartney stopped to take a dump – most likely in the form of a brick) did the breakaway finally halt. The gap was set to precisely four mintues (for some reason) and the race continued. Needless to say, the break was reeled in, and following attacks by Bobby Julich, Davide Rebellin and other notables, Alessandro Ballan of Lampre took the win.
Running much more according to plan was the Tour of Denmark, which concluded today in a massive group gallop led home by Andre Greipel of Team Wiesenhoff. Danes clogged the streets of Freidricksburg to watch the CSC, the only Danish ProTour team, take first (Ivan Basso) and second (Kurt-Asle Arveson) in the general classification. They were less pleased about the highest-placed Dane in the race being only 9th, but being Danes, they were fairly relaxed about it.
In trade news, this year’s TdF 4th-place finisher Paco Mancebo has split Illes Balears for Ag2r. The comibination of Christophe Moreau’s uncanny ability to be the best-placed Frenchman in the Tou, combined with the fact that Mancebo looks like he’s going into labor every time he turns the cranks while riding uphill, should give Ag2r the clout to land a ProTour license this off-season, though they will be hindered by a complete an total lack of results from this year. German press reports indicate that Karsten Kroon will be heading to Gerolsteiner this offseason, while (now former) teammate Joost Postuma, a protagonist in the early spring races, will stay with Rabobank through 2007.