Running In Circles
Thursday, July 9th
I guess I should have stuck with conventional wisdom in predicting this stage, because Oscar Freire was right there. He got pipped at the line by strong man Thor Hushovd, though. I had considered picking Hushovd, since a long, slightly uphill sprint really suits him, but I thought the earlier hills would take it out of his legs. I also really thought a break would go clear.
A break almost did stick. David Millar attacked from a long way out, and he had 40 seconds in hand with 5k to go. I thought it would be enough, but when he hit the turn with 2k to go, he looked completely spent. The pack caught him soon after and the sprint was on.
The stage was unfortunately riddled with crashes. Michael Rogers went down especially hard. Given the way he gimped around, I was surprised to hear that not only did he finish the stage, he's starting tomorrow, too.
Tyler Farrar went down in the same crash, and is said to have hurt his side. He fell over a guard rail, so it could easily be broken ribs. I haven't heard an update on his condition yet. He's one of my favorites—and not just for his name—so I hope he's all right.
Tom Boonen crashed hard near the finish when his wheel slipped out the road striping. One report I saw said he's "still having trouble with white lines." Zing! (You know about the whole cocaine thing, right?)
All told, 21 riders sought medical attention due to crash-sustained injuries. Ouch.
Tomorrow — Stage 7: Barcelona to Arcalis – 224km
Tomorrow's stage is long, steep, has a mountain top finish, and is vital in shaking down the GC. I can't think of anyone more motivated and capable of winning this stage than Alberto Contador. Hence, he is my predicted winner.