Brits lead the spring stage races
Put the kettle on and warm the pot! Brits are leading both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.
Stage one was a team time trial. As has previously been noted on this website, Tony Martin could ride as an individual in the team event and still be competitive. Sure enough, his team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, won.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step is also Mark Cavendish’s team and as the finish line approached, Martin’s teutonic thighs slowed and Cavendish came round him to cross the line first (clearly a plan). The sprinter is therefore the official race leader.
Cavendish spoke at length about the satisfaction of performing as a team. He then added:
“Tony did half the race alone.”
There was much zig-zagging across the road on the final climb. Not surprising when they’d been in wine country all day and had just passed through St Lager. Also because it was steep.
It wasn’t relentlessly steep. It kind of alternated between steep bits and shallower sections. Unpleasant stuff and the peloton duly stretched and fractured. At the front, Tom-Jelte Slagter was the least troubled (“All right, Mrs Slagter – is your Tom-Jelte playing out today?”) with Geraint Thomas reaching the summit only a few seconds behind him.
After that, it was 14km to the finish. Thomas reached Slagter quickly on the descent and they managed to stay ahead all the way to the finish. Thomas is a powerful rider and I thought he’d win the sprint against the flimsy short-arse from Groningen. But he didn’t.
Despite this, Thomas took the race lead. Slagter is third with John Degenkolb’s moustache sandwiched between them. Watch out for that particular chunk of hair in Milan-San Remo a week on Sunday, by the way. It’s in with a chance.