Today we had the feel-good story of the Tour (so far :), as Thomas Voeckler led a break which was out all day and stayed away, winning by seven seconds in front of the field after staying out for 180K in a rolling stage from Le Cap d’Agde to Perpignan. Voeckler is a popular favorite ever since he unexpectedly wore the yellow jersey for a week in 2004, a gamey attacker who never quits. It is always great when the break is able to stay out - today, because the peloton played games with itself in the wind - and also great to have a French athlete win a stage.
The six-man break formed early, at 20K, and hung in front of the peloton all day (not even by that much, max eight minutes), but as sprinter's teams including Highroad and Garmin (pictured) tried to close the gap the winds broke the peloton into echelons. Everyone was attentive because of the gap which opened in stage 3, so there was a lot of back and forth which disrupted the chase. Voeckler attacked the break at the end and stayed away. Most of the peloton probably didn't care, although it kept sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar from having a chance to compete for the win. Cavendish did win a bunch sprint for third, adding to his green-jersey-leading points total.
Tomorrow's stage should be interesting; it takes place on mostly flat roads in the East of Spain, from Girona to Barcelona, but the finish is uphill and there could be potential for attacks at the very end. Armstrong only needs a fraction of a second to take yellow away from Cancellara; who knows what could happen?
It is always great when a break succeeds; it is fun to watch the underdogs win, and it encourages everyone to be in the next break. Every rider can feel "hey, that could have been me!"