The Tour de France enjoyed its first bunch gallop today and saw many sprinters taking their chances. Mark Cavendish (Sky) came up on top thanks to some crafty work, others disappointed and some surprised.
1. Mark Cavendish (Sky) 10/10, place 1st
Doubts surrounded Cavendish’s chances to win in the Tour without a lead out train, but he came out and showed his talents in full. He jumped from Oscar Freire, to Daryl Impey to André Greipel to find the right wheel. All was left was a proper duel, and he won.
2. André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 8/10, place 2nd
Greipel’s Lotto team took responsibility, kept the pace high and protected its leader. He lost to Cavendish, but if his team keeps doing what it’s doing, he’ll pick up one or two stages.
3. Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) 8/10, place 3rd
The Australian nearly won his first stage in the Tour. He was hesitant, lost Impey’s wheel and had to make up time. However, he showed well in the intermediate sprints today and yesterday, and was only one of three to surge ahead.
4. Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) 7/10, place 4th
With the team’s fast man Kittel suffering, Veelers took responsibility. He was gapped behind the wining trio, but led the rest to fourth place.
5. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) 7/10, place 6th
Sagan is riding his way to the green jersey. He carried it today because Fabian Cancellara already had the yellow and held it out afterwards thanks to the 20 points from a sixth place.
6. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) 6/10, place 5th
‘Non male’ as they say in Italian. The 38-year-old still has fuel in his tank to place fifth. His Lampre team, via Davide Viganò, helped lead into the final kilometre. Petacchi slotted in behind Tom Veelers. A top five, and probably all he’s capable of in this Tour.
7. Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) 4/10, place 9th
Renshaw looked well in the intermediate sprint and in the final sprint, placing ninth. Team-mate Maarten Tjallingii said afterwards to him, “I’m sorry. I just couldn’t get back to you to help you.”
8. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) 3/10, place 10th
Farrar is still fighting back to regain his top-end speed after the classics and crash in the Giro d’Italia. He was frustrated with tenth place, however, which explains why he refused to answer any questions. All he said when asked for comment was, “No, sorry.”
9. Oscar Freire (Katusha) 2/10, place 16th
The retiring champion placed 16th in a finish that didn’t really suit him. He needs a harder stage when his younger rivals are weaker. Sports Director Valerio Piva said, “It’s a sprinters’ stage and Oscar is no longer 20 years old”.
10. Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) 1/10, place 196th
The German suffered a stomach problem that could’ve been brought on by nerves. It’s his first Tour, so it was his first chance to sprint for the win. He knows he’s billed as the man to beat Cav and he knows he can do better, but today he was just unable.
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Rogers back on form and backing Wiggins in the Tour
Martin to continue in Tour despite fractured wrist
Liquigas coach tips Sagan for future Grand Tour win
Cancellara’s win lifts morale in RadioShack team
Hincapie makes history with 17th Tour start
Goss has eye on Tour’s green jersey
Hincapie’s lucky seventeen bike
Evans ready to fight for his Tour title
Tour de France 2012: Teams presented in Liege
Millar misses Tour presentation due to illness
Nibali plans mountain attack in Tour
Sky Tour de France recon: Photo special
Hesjedal ready to take on Tour
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour won’t knock Cavendish down
Brailsford: You’ve got to prioritise
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials
CW’s Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever