I've received a few suggestions to try and comment the Tour de France the same way I did RAAM. So, here we go:
Being very busy this past week, here is my short recap of the race so far. At the prologue as we expected Cancellara was the man to beat and he proved his worth, with a comading victory. Unfortunately, the World Champion Tony Martin had a puncture and we will never know how close he could be to »Spartacus« if he would have a clear run. From the pre-race favorites for a victory in Paris, as was expected the best was Wiggins and not to far back most of the other favorites Evans, Nibali, Hesjedal, and also our Jani Brajkovic, who is better at the longer TTs and I ope he will prove it in a few days time when the first long TT arrives.
My bet for the first stage was Phillipe Gilbert, who surprisingly doesn't have a victory to his name yet this season. On the finishing climb yellow jersey Cancellara surprised the climbers with a strong attack, that only Sagan was able to follow. With him not prepared to share the tempo making also Boasson Hagen caught up with the duo, but the finish was inevitable, Sagan won with ease over Cancellara and Boasson Hagen with Gilbert taking the sprint for fourth spot, proving that he is (at least) closing on his last year's shape. All the favorites for general clasification finished in time of the winner with the exception of Levi Leipheimer, who lost 17 seconds.
The second stage was expected to be for sprinters and so it was. The World Champion proved to the non believers that he can also win without his persona »sprint train«. It is not totaly clear to me how he got into position he had, when even 1km before the finish he was not among the first 20 positions. But then when Greipel's sprint train took the former into a perfect position for the win and he released his sprint, suddenly behind him there was a yellow helmet of the World Champion, who just unleashed his sprint and overtook the German in the last 20 meters. The third place went to Australian Matt Goss.
The third stage is going to have a very interesting finish, with as many as six categorised climbs in the last 65 kilometers. Sure, they are short (between 0,7 and 1,7km) at 5,8% to 9,2%, but they can still make a difference with some sprinters probably having difficulty holding the wheels. I don't expect anything dramatic among the favorites for general clasification, borrowing accidents. With the finishing straight being set up in the climb of 700m at 7,4%, the stage surely is not for classical sprinters, but more for cyclist like Sagan, Bosson-Hagen, Gilbert, Gerrans, maybe even Valverde? My fingers will be crossed for Gilbert...