Stage 9: St Leonard De Noblat-Gueret

07-13-04.stage9 profile

Not much to say about this post-rest-day race. The stage was short and the pace started off fast. Now that the race has moved further south, it seems to have brought a halt to the rainy weather, and for the most part the peloton was spared any major crashes (a rider hit the center divider in the road taking down another rider -- it appeared to be a case of poor bike handling rather than poor conditions).

Today was Robbie McEwen's day. After getting a couple points by taking 3rd at the first sprint point, he managed to beat the rest of the swarm that caught the two-rider breakaway that had been away for most of the race. The stage win plus the sprint points have given him a solid lead of 18 points over O'Grady, and with a the Tour back-loaded with mountain stages, he seems to be in a good position to hold onto the jersey.

The breakaway containing Simeoni and Landaluze had a good chance of winning the race until the final kilometer. It appeared that the peloton had mistimed the rundown and the pair had a good chance of staying in front of the peloton at the line. However, Landaluze started playing games in the final kilometer, sitting on Simeoni's back wheel instead of pulling, and Simeoni's solo efforts at pulling in the final kilometer weren't enough to hold off the oncoming pack. Guess that's another lesson in game theory, brought to you by the world of cycling.

related articles: Tour de France 2004