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Practical jokes: Robbie McEwen may come across as brash and, just occasionally, a mite self-important, but there's no denying that, like most Aussies, he has a sense of humour. In Friday's post-stage press conference the stage winner told of how, after telling breakaway companion Fabian Wegmann to carry on and "have a good day" without him, he waited behind some bushes for the chasing peloton. "When I rejoined the bunch, a lot of the guys thought that I was still out there," chuckled Robbie. The wag.
The Germans: Another stage in Tour de France dullsville would have been a turn-off to many, but not the 750,000 German fans who lined the streets as La Grande Boucle paid them a visit on Friday afternoon. A case of 'found in translation', we suppose. A stage victory after several hours on the front was perhaps too much to ask from Fabian Wegmann, but Gerolsteiner's baby-faced assassin deservedly took the polka-dot jersey to add to the party atmosphere.
Alexandre Vinokourov: Twenty-four hours after creating more excitement in the space of 2.5km than the rest of favourites have offered us in seven days and 1091km, the Kazakh could receive no higher compliment for his attack than a put-down from Lance Armstrong. "I think people are making too much of Vino's attack," huffed Big Tex, seemingly trying to convince himself. The reality is that, in Vinokourov, Armstrong has finally come up against a rottweiler as opposed to the lap dogs who have been too willing to let him and his team dictate the pattern of the race for too many years.
Allan Davis: Being flagged up as the "next Laurent Jalabert" - just as Davis was by team boss Manolo Saiz a couple of years ago - is a burdensome honour for anyone to bear. For the 25-year-old Aussie, however, the Jalabert model could point the way for Davis to diversify from sprinter to Classics hunter. On the evidence of this Tour, Davis's talents are certainly wasted in bunch sprints, especially at this level. Relegation to last place and a fine of 200 Swiss francs for an "irregular sprint" on today's stage were symptomatic of a cheerless first week for the Liberty Seguros man.
Baden Cooke: The Francaise des Jeux rider's loss of form over the past two seasons is one of professional cycling's great mysteries. The same could be said of the hairstyle which Cooke is sporting at this year's Tour - a 'do' which could be the first and is hopefully the last of the mullet Mohicans. To pull off an aberration like that you need to be good, very good, and Cooke simply hasn't been that for the best part of two seasons. It pains us to see Bradley McGee wasting precious energy to 'pilot' Cooke for such meagre rewards.
The Germans: Such an enthusiastic, hospitable public deserves better than a 228.5km which doesn't take in a single climb in its last 150km. Like many German cities, Karlsruhe is in the throes of a major campaign to promote cycling via a series of initiatives including hosting major pro races. Why not, then, give them a Tour stage their investment deserves and a chance to show off the best of the surrounding Black Forest landscape?
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