After the chaos and destruction of yesterday’s stage, over dusty and slippery cobbles, today’s ride, 153.5 kilometers from Cambrai to Reims, was a much-needed cruise ending in a bunch sprint.
Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre-Farnese edged the rest of the sprinters at the finish line, despite HTC Columbia leading the train up to the final paces.
But HTC Columbia’s Mark Cavendish took the lead too early, with Thor Hushovd in close pursuit. This allowed Petacchi, Edvald Boassan Hagen of Sky, and Julian Dean of Garmin Transitions to vye for the stage win.
Even Garmin's Tyler Farrar, with a possible hairline fracture in his wrist and other multiple scrapes, managed to finish near the front of the pack, in 23rd. This morning, he was still unsure as to whether he could continue in the Tour, but he performed admirably.
A group of five broke away early on, and retained a very short lead for most of the stage’s duration, getting caught by the peloton with just three kilometers to go.
Multiple crashes yesterday also resulted in Frank Schleck suffering a collarbone broken in three places, requiring surgery earlier today. This leaves his brother, Andy, an overall race favorite, without one of his main wingmen.
Today’s results effected no change in the overall standings, with Fabian Cancellara (Saxo) in the yellow jersey, followed by Sky’s Thomas Geraint, and BMC’s Cadell Evans.
Lance Armstrong (Radio Shack), also somewhat battered by yesterday’s stage, holds in 18th, with his main rival Alberto Contador (Katusha) in 9th.