Tour de France '07 – Hunter Starts RSA Account, Moreau Lost in the Mistral

Jul 19 2007

Man, how I love the mainstream press: flat day = boring day, right guys? I suppose it’s ok that they apply the same logic (car starts = car is fine) to auto maintenance, but I really draw the line at fact checking. This BBC story states incorrectly that Patrick Sinkewitz tested positive during the ’07 Tour (he was tested during training camp a month earlier), and that Floyd Landis has been disqualified from the ’06 Tour (the case is pending). I understand journalism is poorly-paid, high intensity work, performed under tight deadlines, but, you know, getting the facts straight is kinda part of the job.

Anyway, today’s stage was anything but dull, with Astana shredding the field in a crosswind, and leaving the darling of France languishing in the rear echelons, along with a host of big name sprinters. Seems Moreau had crashed and was receiving repairs at his team car when Vino’s squad cranked up the pace. Team CSC’s Jens Voigt, who often serves as a spokesman for the peloton, registered his displeasure after the race; then again, he’s been in a bit of a mood, lately.

While no one forecast this GC development (though Cyclingpost did mention the weather might come into play in its daily preview), a race-altering crash in the closing meters is nothing new for the Tour. Today’s tumble was more of a negation, though, as it caught up – but didn’t bring down – maillot vert Tom Boonen, much to the glee of the other points competition contenders, who were stuck back in the cheap seats with Moreau. These dropped riders did, however, have to dodge the ambulance that tended to the victims of Boonen’s crash; had there been a collision, it would have been ironic in all sorts of ways.

So at the end of the day, Robbie Hunter becomes the first South African ever to win a TdF stage, due in part to a friendly tip at the critical moment. Hunter is also only the second ever African stage winner, and first in over 50 years. To be fair, though, Molines’ achievement might be a little more praiseworthy, as it came during the era of National/Regional Teams, meaning there were no top-level European teammates to represent his interests back in the field. Even with the disruption that must have come following the Italian Team’s withdrawal a day earlier, Molina and Abdel-Kader Zapf’s breakaway should be considered one of the gutsier moves in the history of the Tour de France.

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