Good day, Bad day - Stage 4
No experts needed today as Lance romps into the lead, but where are the French, Italians and Belgian
BAD DAY Climbers: Carlos Sastre and Gilberto Simoni had their overall chances dealt a massive blow tonight after the bizarre and draconian regulations of the team time trial hit home hard and sent them spinning down the race classification. Like a bunch of over-zealous gym teachers, the Tour organisers have simplified matters immensely for head boy Armstrong. And for the race that’s a damn shame. Marks out of 10 – a big 20-second bonus to ASO for massively changing the shape of the race and simplifying life for Lance – after just four stages. CSC: Confused? You might be if you ride for Bjarne Riis. Why let Jens Voigt et al work so hard in the opening three days of racing if your real target is success in the team time trial? Today CSC had a shed-load of problems, with punctures and crashes, and may have paid the price for their over-enthusiasm. Doubtless big Bjarne had some tactical ruse at work with all those breakaways. Whatever, it didn’t pay off. Marks out of 10 – a disappointing day; so five will have to do Brad McGee: It couldn’t get much worse for the suffering Aussie, after he was given his ‘real’ time on today’s stage, as opposed to the allocated bonus for his team’s placing, after failing to finish with fdjeux.com’s front five. Now with backache and poor morale, he’s almost 23 minutes down on GC. It’s a cruel world those grizzled commissaires inhabit, Brad. Marks out of 10 – a poor four for failing to buy a calculator to work out those coefficients, but a solid seven for fighting spirit GOOD DAY Lance Armstrong: Obviously. Tomorrow is his 60th day in yellow. Some achievement for the Texan, but let’s just hope there’s a lot more racing still to come to prevent this turning into a one horse gymkhana. and a three-week Lance-fest. Marks out of 10 – a perfect 10 for a peerless performance. Tyler Hamilton: Against the odds, Hamilton dragged his team to an excellent second place little more than a minute behind US Postal. Despite four punctures and technical problems, Phonak showed how strong they are collectively and Hamilton showed his maturity as a leader. Now a real contender for the podium in Paris. Marks out of 10 – nine for resilience, as you’d expect from King of Pain Hamilton. New world cycling: Look at the Tour GC tonight. Six Americans and five Germans in the top 21 riders tells its own story. The first French rider, Jean-Patrick Nazon, is now 38th. The first Italian, T-Mobile’s Daniele Nardello, is 22nd. The power base in the sport has changed in character and today’s result shows that the new hierarchy is here to stay. Marks out of 10 – three nil to the Yanks and it’s not even half time.