A little word play describing the first three stages of the tour this year. Maybe it would better describe the heartache that Tony Martin is going through right now. I will revisit Tony in a bit. What a first three days, huh? With tomorrow’s cobble stage, the first week is revisiting some of the spring classics which usually provide the years best racing. The usual first week of predictable results has been turned on its head for sure.

No surprise in Rohan Dennis, Team BMC, winning the prologue. The Aussie, holder of the one hour record earlier this year, blistered the course in record average speed. The surprise was the next day, when he was caught out in a field split during a horrendous storm and the cruel world of racing became evident. With his GC favorite teammate from the U.S., Tejay van Garderen, safely in the front with Sky’s Chris Froome and Alberto Contador it was full gas leaving last years winner Vincenzo Nibali plus contender Nairo Quintana 90 precious seconds adrift.

Then the inexplicable occurred. Mark Cavendish from Etixx-Quick-Step sat up in the final 30 meters after he realized that he had mistimed his sprint finish for the day’s win. That allowed Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) to sneak ahead of him for third place and precious bonus seconds which left Cavendish’s teammate Tony Martin out of the yellow jersey by one second.

Tony, with cameras in his face, tried his best, but his displeasure could not be shielded. Tony, unlike Fabian has never worn yellow. Honestly, Mark has only one focus and that is to win stages. What is not known is whether his team director had informed Mark or not prior to the sprint to at least take third place to put his teammate in yellow. We may never know. Suffice to say, Tony and Mark likely did not sit at the same table last night.

For Tony the heartache did not end there. In today’s ramp up the steep Mur de Huy at the finish, Tony managed to stay with race favorites after a brutal day of racing. With Cancellara already relegated to the rear after being unable to stay with peloton, the yellow jersey was up for grabs. Chris Froome finished second on the day behind “Purito” Rodriguez, but was ruled to have finished at the same time by race referee’s even though there was a visible gap between them. The bottom line? You got it. Tony finished the day one second out of yellow again. The Tour is a cruel beast.

Bruce McConnell


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