Tosatto's Day Out
Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) won yesterday's 18th stage of the Tour de France
to Macon. Part of a 15 man breakaway earlier in the day, Tosatto and
Christian Moreni counter-attacked Ronny Scholtz's move with 18 km to go,
catching him to form a 3-man lead group to the finish. Scholtz, the
slowest of the three men in a sprint, inexplicably did most of the work in
the final kilometers, including leading the other two riders out for the
last kilometer. With Scholtz's chances blown, Tosatto simply took advantage
of the work done and outsprinted Moreni.
It was good redemption for the Quick Step team, who had not won a stage in
the entire Tour despite having World Champion sprinter Tom Boonen on
their roster. Boonen did get to wear the yellow jersey for four days,
but never quite got his sprinting tactics right to win a stage. Having
abandoned during stage 15 to Alpe d'Huez, Boonen was left facing a second
consecutive disappointing Tour after crashing out of the Tour last year (although
he did win two stages last year). However, his abandonment has freed
up the responsibilities of the other riders on Quick Step to pursue their
own individual goals. Thus, Matteo Tosatto, normally one of Boonen's
leadout men in a sprint, was able to get into a decisive breakaway and win
on his own. Quick Step will feel a lot better about themselves tonight
by salvaging some glory in this Tour and winning a stage.
There was no change at all for the overall leadership of the Tour (shockingly).
The peloton cruised in 8 minutes behind Tosatto, more interested in conserving
energy for Saturday's all-important time trial. Everyone was still
talking about Floyd Landis's amazing ride yesterday and whether or not he
will be able to overhaul the two riders in front of him, Oscar Pereiro and
Carlos Sastre, in the time trial. 57 kilometers is all that stands
between one of them and their first Tour victory ever.
It's D-Day, the final day to create time gaps to win or lose the Tour de
France. Will it be the American spectacularly recovering from his apparent
death in the mountains? Will it be the diminuitive climber from Spain
who came to this Tour with the objective of working for someone else while
sacrificing his own chances? Or will it be the man who was at one point
30 minutes down in the race? The "race of truth" will decide.
It will be exciting! It will be dramatic! It will be what the
Tour de France has always been: the best race in the world. Vive Le
- Chris, cyclingfans.com columnist