In an effort to avoid a bunch sprint at the end of the stage, the indomitable Jens Voigt set the pace for an early 8-man breakaway. 110km later, only 4 riders were left from the breakaway group, which had left the peloton nearly 10 minutes in its wake. Italian Daniele Banati, from Team Lampre, won the stage - Lampre's first win in the Tour since 2001...amazing to consider, because Lampre is one of those teams that can always be counted on to have riders up front when it comes to a bunch sprint finish.
Let's spare a thought for David Millar - what a trooper. He apparently has an allergy to the sun, yes that big shiny thing in the sky, which might not be such a problem in his native Scotland, but in sunny France, it caused him to break out in an unbearably itchy rash in the first week of the Tour. He had to get special permission from officials to try certain topical creams as a remedy, none of which were reported to do the trick. So you might have noticed he's riding with long sleeves and sunblock literally caked onto his face, neck, and legs - any exposed skin. That must have been quite uncomfortable in yesterday's 30C+ (86F+) temperatures! Although he was part of the 8-man breakaway during this stage, he could not keep up the pace and fell behind with 16km to go. He is not giving up on his plans for a stage win, though - so watch out for the big Scot !
The standings in the leaders' classifications were unaffected by the result of Stage 17. It is interesting to note that Rasmussen's withdrawal did not automatically mean that Contador, in 2nd place, put on the yellow jersey. Although the official record books will say that Contador was in yellow for Stage 17, he wore his normal team jersey. At the end of today's stage he put on the yellow jersey, having properly 'earned' it. Despite some decidedly unsportsmanlike behaviour in the performance enhancing drugs area, cycling is full of traditions like that which hint at the underlying sense of honour in the peloton.
Speaking of honours, lots of our knitters are getting very close to podium honours for their KAL projects! Here's the latest standings:
Barbara is really excited because she's reached yellow jersey status on her socks:
Bea has finished hers:
Here's our prize winner Elaine's finished three sock pair:
Ina's Soleil is looking tres belle:
And Janet's yellow tank top is nearly fini!
Kat's chausettes bleu are also nearly done
And check out Kristen's Lady Eleanor! She is going to cross the finish in a very comfortable time!
Yellow jerseys are not expected to finish their projects before the end of the Tour, which is a good thing for knitting riders like Kristen and Kathy, who followed the example of Dennis Menchov today, and have withdrawn from the race. We're glad that you joined us and gave it your best attempt -- you're still part of the team and free to comment even if you had to hang up your needles and shelve the project til next year. For some of us it is the process of the race, the riding itself -- we are not all Tom Boonens!
Speaking of which, here's what the sprinters have been up to:
The Knitty Professor has finished all three of her market bags with plenty of time to spare! She's looking forward to meeting Boonen on the green jersey podium in Paris!
Arja's plans to complete Mermaid during the tour got waylaid by some mysterious sock disease, but she is now planning to finish the body of Mermaid during the Tour - see, she's nearly there already!
Kate has finished this cute 'Jean-Pierre' vest of her own design for her son who loved it so much he's modelling it over pyjamas! I hear that's the latest thing on the catwalks of Milan and Paris!
This beautiful nearly-finished Kauni cardigan is the handiwork of the injured Susan. Instead of aiming to complete all the finishing on the cardigan, Susan is going to aim to finish the 2nd sleeve. Given her knitting-affected injuries, I think that's an admirable goal!
The mountain climbers are coasting home to Paris now that the Pyrenees have been tackled. Amber is nearing completion of her THIRD shawl from the Tour! And Christina has finished her Tour socks in hand-dyed yellow and green yarns to reflect the jerseys:
Although Cindy is not speaking to her Fawne project at the moment, she is going to try to finish a project that's been in progress for 8 years! It's a gorgeous fair isle creation for her husband:
Whitney's tour de gansey has come to a lovely conclusion at the Champs-Elysee of sweater construction, the collar. Bravo Whitney - you have inspired me to attemt a gansey one day!
Nikki's not going to finish her project, but that was never the point anyway. She's made lots of progress and has less to do post-Tour than she will before she started. Give the girl a pat on the back! Allez-allez!
Mrs Pao's cats have been commentating on her project in progress a la Phil & Paul - this is going to be an exciting finish!
I'm sure lots of us have big weekends ahead, with endless supplies of coffee, tea, chocolate, baguettes, and the remote control close at hand while we put the finishing touches on our projects! In just a few days it will all be over! Leave a comment with your tips for Post-Tour Depression (aka, what am I going to do with all my free time???) and we'll collate them in a future post for everyone's benefit!