Sorry I haven't been reporting on all the stages so far. Anyone who's been following the race already knows the outcome of the prologue and stage 1, so here's my super abbreviated thoughts:
Prologue: Team High Road's Mark Cavendish - 22 yr old from GB - rode an average of 56.425 km/hour to cover 1.9km in 2:07.6. Damn that's fast! He said his excellent result is because the course was so short it was like a sprint which is his strength. And if anyone disagrees with that sentiment, they should think back to this year's Scheldeprijs where he nipped Tom Boonen at the line. (In tommeke's defense, though, this probably wouldn't have happened if he didn't prematurely raise his arms in an anticipatory triumph. Note to Tom, Erik Zabel, et al - wait until AFTER you cross the line to punch the sky.
Stage 1: I only watched the race with about 10km to go. The only real interesting part of the finale was the last turn leading into the finishing straightaway. The stage had a slightly uphill finish. Thomas Dekker of Rabobank took off for the sprint very early. Appearing to have a brief brain fart, he slowed down and slightly swirved just before the tight left hand turn onto the finishing straight. Maybe he ran out of energy or didn't know the turn was coming. Putting himself close to the left side of the road, he was out of position for a top speed tight left hand turn. About two seconds before the turn, Maxim Iglinsky of Team Astana jumped ahead of Dekker clearly to take the turn in first position. By nailing the turn textbook style, he was able to carry all his speed through to the finish line. The chasers just behind slightly overshot the turn, which forced them to ever so slightly take the speed off. That second it took to get back up to speed was enough to easily give Iglinsky the win. It was beautiful to watch.
Stage 2: Again, I only watched the last 10km or so. And again, the only real impression that was made on me was the sprint. Robbie McEwen was so impressive he brought tears to my eyes. Just under the 1km banner, McEwen found himself at the front of the peloton. Knowing it was much too early, he just continued to soft pedal in hopes that others would come around. Just after a few passed, putting him in 6th position, he jumped on the first promising wheel that took off for the line. But by being in 6th position, he was clearly boxed in according to everyone's definition of boxed in - but his. Somehow he managed to squeeze between to guys who were practically riding elbow to elbow. You have to be so incredibly talented to fit a whole entire person with bike through a wildly swerving pinhole at over 60kph.
After he crossed the line, I saw him grab a cell phone to take a call. My first thought was how sweet it was that he'd take a call from his wife right after he crossed the line. But then i heard an awfully familiar voice coming from the TV - it was McEwen. He said even though he did the sprint alone, he gave a lot of credit to his team for their hard work throughout the stage. He also said that he had cramps during the sprint. Next time i suffer from cramps, I will think of McEwen.
Thanks for reading.