In his race for a historic third Lanterne Rouge in the Tour de France, Wim Vansevenant hit an unexpected bump today. I didn’t expect much to happen today, in a mostly flat stage. The peloton usually stays together, and a breakaway of guys with no chance in the overall contention goes off the front, trying to stay ahead long enough to get a stage win. But today I watched the news flashes with some concern as a group of 9 riders fell off the back of the peloton — including Team Columbia’s Bernhard Eisel.
Eisel was a comfortable 12 minutes and 9 seconds ahead of Wim at the end of yesterday’s stage, and who’s going to lose that much time on a flat stage? Well, Eisel’s group lost almost 13 minutes to Wim. So as of today, Eisel is the Lanterne Rouge, and Wim is 42 seconds ahead of him.
Can Wim still pull this out? Well, tomorrow is the last individual time trial. The other ITT this year was stage 4, and Wim lost exactly a minute to Eisel in that one. Furthermore, this time trial will be 1.8 times as long as stage 4. Most important, competitors start in reverse order, so Eisel has to go first. That means Wim will know how much time he needs to lose.
Still, it’s going to make for an interesting day tomorrow. Both the Maillot Jaune and the Lanterne Rouge are likely to be decided by the same stage. Go Wim!
As always, you can get more Tour de France Lanterne Rouge news by going to the Lanterne Rouge Blog.