Mark Cavendish sprinted to a superb victory in Stage 18 of the Tour de France. With a few hundred meters remaining the Team Sky rider broke clear of the peloton and chased down the front runners to claim an impressive second win of this year's Tour.
Tony from L.A. was badly outnumbered. A rotund bloke in a cycling jersey that fit him like a sausage casing, he was leaning over the asphalt in front of the Rabobank bus near the start of Stage 4 of the Tour of California. In orange chalk, he was spelling out the names of the Rabo riders such as Robert Gesink, Oscar Freire and Peter Weening.
Okay, withdrawal time. A dramatic, transformative Tour de France has been decided by one of the narrowest margins in the 105-year history of the race. Cycling fans who've been following the Tour for the last three weeks must now grapple with a void in their lives, a Bobke-less universe.
Mark Cavendish is going down in history. Riccardo Ricco is going home. It's been a Good News-Bad News kind of Tour de France, with today's Stage 12 perfectly capturing the Hope vs. Dope dialectic of this grand and haunted race.
Rhetorical question posed on the eve of the 95th Tour de France, which begins Saturday in Brest, at the tip of the Breton peninsula: Wouldn't it be surprising if cycling, for so long the poster child of pharmacologically jacked-up sports, turned out to be cleaner than, say, the NFL, or the NHL, or Major League Baseball?
Yes, Tuesday's Stage 3 into Compiegne featured an electrifying finish, with race leader Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC schooling the sprinters, throwing down a vicious acceleration 700 meters from the finish line, then holding off the muscle-bound likes of Erik Zabel, Tom Boonen and Robert Forster. To me, the biggest story of the day was not Cancellara's breathtaking speed at the finish, but the stately, unhurried, club-ride pace set by the peloton in the hours before the thrilling denouement. This was the slowest stage in recent memory. As I will explain later, that's a good thing.