The mouse that roared away from the peloton
Peter Sagan wins so often, he choreographs celebrations. Having never previously won a professional race, Jan Bakelants hasn’t spent as much time rehearsing. His celebration is a near-tearful head-grasp. It’s nice.
Today was due to be what you might describe as a ‘whittled sprint,’ where the pure sprinters are kicked out of the peloton during early climbs but where a reasonably large bunch still finishes together. That pretty much happened, except that Jan Bakelants finished one second before them.
Bakelants had been in a late break of six riders who’d worked together to stay a handful of seconds ahead of the peloton in the closing kilometres. With one kilometre to go, he took to the front of the group and put in a big effort to try and ensure they stayed ahead until the line. He was somewhat surprised to leave all five of his temporary allies behind.
For the last kilometre, if you can imagine Bakelants as a cartoon mouse and the peloton as a cartoon cat, it was rather like Tom was gaining on Jerry only for Jerry to reach the sanctuary of the mouse hole just as Tom was about to chomp. Peter Sagan was Tom’s nose (by which I mean that he came second).
Bakelants now leads the Tour de France by that one second because Marcel Kittel lost 18 minutes on the day (as did Thomas De Gendt). When asked how he would have reacted if someone had told him before the stage that he would gain the yellow jersey, I think I heard Bakelants say that he would have punched the person in the face.
The points competition
Unlike, the general classification, the green jersey battle’s very much up and running and Mark Cavendish is already 30 points down on Marcel Kittel and 26 down on Peter Sagan. There are 45 points available for a sprint stage win, but there are also further points available for each of the first 15 riders, so he’s unlikely to catch up with a single victory.
King of the Mountains
Pierre Rolland leads, albeit with only five points. He attacked on the day’s main climb and snaffled his points then. I can only presume he fancied a change of jersey, because he should really be thinking about the general classification and this move wasn’t a particularly efficient use of energy.
Is up and down, but it could end with a sprint finish. Here’s the profile.