It’s not that I don’t think Mark Cavendish is the fastest sprinter in the world. Milan-Sanremo speaks for itself. But he had an easy time of it at last year’s Tour, thanks to one of the most misguided cases in the history of arbitration and, well, that problem that Tom Boonen has.
Petacchi is getting a bit long in the tooth, and lacks the magnificent sprint train that drove him to a staggering nine victories in the ’04 Giro, but he came into this year’s event fit. Petacchi took the Giro di Toscana just last week; a stark contrast to Cav’s April build-up of hanging out at the beach with his fiancee, before failing to even finish with the group at Romandie.
While the “Gentleman Sprinter” would never admit it, he probably also came into this race angry. CAS’s idiotic decision to suspend him based on an arbitrary limit WADA has imposed on a substance with no performance enhancing qualities cost him a Giro and Tour at the top of his career. Even for a man with Petacchi’s calm public persona, that has got to chafe. That’s why I picked him to win this stage.
Cav had the leadout and the position today, but Petacchi got the drop on him, bolting around the Manxman’s left side while Cav was pinned against the barriers and blocked by his own lead-out man. Cavendish eventually got it cranked up, and appeared to close a bit from helicopter camera, but Ale-Jet still had a time to check over his shoulder and put his arms up as he crossed the line.
Cav rode with his usual intensity, solid as a statue and bumping any rider thought they could make him otherwise; I’m pretty sure he said a very naughty word when he crossed the line in second. It should provide ample motivation over what could be a very interesting next three weeks.
thoughts on “Don Petacchi Says Hello”
I thought whoever the Columbia rider sweeping Cav’s wheel with 1K to go did some pretty clever riding. Farrar had Cav’s wheel up to the point, and the Columbia rider rode up next to him, took him off the wheel, and put Farrar in the wind. Farrar had no one left to help him, since for some reason all the Garmin guys were pulling from 5k to 2k to go, and covering meaningless attacks.
It might have been Farrar coming around Cav for the win, since he still came from 8 guys back to get 5th, if not for him getting abused at 1K to go and losing 5 spots then.
The final sprint is only ever about coming around 1 guy. The real sprint happens in the set up, and that’s where Farrar lost it today.
I’ve watched the video a bunch of times, and I’m pretty sure it was Petacchi that managed to knock Farrar off the Highroad train. The LPR and Highroad kits look pretty similar at speed. They traded off Cavs wheel through a series of corners leading into the line, and then the field goes past a building and you can’t see what happens. In the next shot, Tyler is way down.
You’re definitely right about that knocking Farrar out of contention, and about the setup the spring being the key. Davis and Swift were tucked in behind Cav and Petacchi, and Farrar was still coming back to them in until the very last few meters. He might still be a little green at the very top level of the sport, but he’s definitely got the speed to win once he gets it right.
I agree Cosmo, it was Ale-Jet that knocked Farrar off Cav’s wheel. The two were bumping and fighting for it through the final corners and it was experience that won out yesterday. It’ll be another sprint today and I’d like to see a Petacchi repeat, but I don’t think that he will be able to surprise Cav like he did yesterday by going from so far out.
Funny, I was thinking on it again on my ride yesterday, without reading the follow up comments yet, and realized that having only watched it once, it must have been Petacchi who took Farrar off the wheel. I came back to mention it, and you guys were already on it. Excellent.
I’m also wondering when Cav is going to lower his bars so he can actually pull on them, rather than lean on them, when he sprints.