Who emerged happy and healthy from stage 1 in Strasbourg, and who came away blood-spattered and smel
Good day: PMU The hand-shaped sprinter-killers strike again: four years after Jean-Marie Leblanc told PMU to stop distributing their giant green hands to fans on the finishing straight of Tour stages, Thor Hushovd collided with one to ensure that the French bookmaker gets full value for its race sponsorship. Little matter that any rider within ten metres of Hushovd got a sprinkling of polka-dots in the ensuing blood shower; hardly a single journalist’s race report won’t have plugged PMU tonight. France Less than 24 hours after “Les Bleus” triumphed over Brazil, France had further cause for celebration thanks to Jimmy Casper’s surprise stage win. Mumblings about an end to “cyclisme a deux vitesses” may be misplaced, but the fact is that French successes at the Tour are so rare these days that they have to be savoured. Call it a hunch, but we reckon that home riders could cause a few more upsets over the next three weeks – notably Messers Casar, Voeckler, Moncoutie, Chavanel and Geslin. Johan Bruyneel Lance’s old guru admitted this morning that he had dearly hoped to ring in the post-Armstrong era with one of his riders in the yellow jersey on Saturday night. That explained Hincapies frustration when he came so close yesterday and also why Discovery will be jubilant tonight. Excuse the cynicism, but no team gained more from Ullrich and Basso’s ejection than Discovery, and no team’s morale will be riding higher tonight. Bad Day A poor Sunday Times journalist… …who, to paraphrase from his sanctimonious treatise in this morning’s edition, will be spending the next three weeks in a press corps made up of “headless muppets”, “frauds with typewriters” and “spineless, lazy, morally bankrupt wasters”. Nice description, Paul; you just forgot to mention the judgmental, repented dope-cheat and born-again evangelist who descends from his Ivory tower at a rate of one race per season. Danilo di Luca Di Luca had high hopes for his Tour, setting his sights on the polka-dot jersey and some consolation for his miserable Giro d’Italia performance. Tonight, though, the Italian’s Grande Boucle could be over: Di Luca still hasn’t recovered from a urinary infection which struck him earlier in the week and it showed as he finished dead last this afternoon in Strasbourg, two and a half minutes behind stage winner Jimmy Casper. Forget polka-dots, Di Luca is now the Tour’s lanterne rouge. “I’m sick. I just can’t move forward and I’m hurting all over,” he said. “If tomorrow I still feel like this, i think that I’ll go home.” Thor Hushovd The victim of the most fearsome karate chop since Daniel-San took his teenage angst out on the Cobra Khan, you can’t help but feel for Hushovd. Had it not been for that errant PMU hand 100 metres from the finish-line, the Norwegian could still be leading the Tour tonight. As it is he’s in hospital with a six centimetre deep cut in his arm and a bloodstained yellow jersey which he won’t be allowed to wear tomorrow.