The first week of racing was far above average for an opening sprinting week for me. The billing of this as a "wide open" Tour de France is living up to its name, with Hincapie grabbing a yellow jersey for a day and the sprinters also really fighting hard this first week for both yellow and green jerseys. The KOM competition has even been spirited, and there hasn't even been a mountain yet! Doping scandal or no, this has been an exciting Tour.

Nevertheless, six sprint stages is a heckuva lotta stages to sit through with the exact same formula: long break, sprint finish, long break, sprint finish. Even with the nod to the classics routes, there's just not much variety in a sprint stage. The three previous years gave us a team time trial on stage 4 to remind us that there is a yellow jersey competition, and two years ago we even got cobblestones on stage 3. By the end of this uneventful stage 6, I have to admit that part of me was preferring that I wasn't waking up at 6am every morning to watch these semi-live.

But snore no more! According to the CSC blog, Zabriskie should be previewing the tomorrow's time trial course as I write this. The time trial is the last chance for some non-GC threats riders like Zabriskie, Rogers, Karpets, or Gonchar to grab the yellow jersey, so I don't expect tomorrow to sort out the standings, but it will definitely create some good separation. I'm hoping from a great performance from Julich -- it's very unlikely he'll get his coveted yellow jersey, but a great performance would unite CSC behind him as the leader for the stages to come.

related articles: Tour de France 2006
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