Finally on the fourth stage things happen as planned. After Robbie McEwen takes the first stage the hard way, then Gert Steegmans gave himself a leadout when Tom Boonen could not come around. Finally, yesterday, Fabian Cancellara told the peloton that if they were not going to take down the break, he’d do it himself.
Today, things happened as they should. An early break that was left to dangle out in front of the peloton. The peloton, firmly in control played with the break like a cat with a mouse. The finale ended up in a sprint with a real sprinter taking a great lead out and finishing it off.
Thor Hushovd came around Julian Dean to take the stage victory. Thor did not seem to have any zip in his legs on Stage one but today, he looked good. Boonen again finished behind Weegmans. McKewen finished out of the money a distant 16th.
So the question is who is the top sprinter? McKewen is still showing the effects of Stage one’s crash as adrenaline can carry you only so far. Boonen seems poised to disappoint in another tour. It seems that the green points jersey must feel as heavy as last year’s yellow jersey. A rider of Boonen’s caliber must not feel worthy of his jersey since he has no stage wins and his performances have been underwhelming.
Therefore, my answer is Hushovd is the top sprinter. I actually think Weegmans might deserve consideration but if Boonen stays in the race, you will most likely see the top domestique resume his role of back-up act. If Boonen gets one of those timely stomach virus, I’ll be taking a longer look at Gert. I have to believe the Quick Step dining table must be a tension convention.