Three things about the Stage 2 finish in Brignoles:
1. I don’t care how many times I see it. The sight of the peloton gathering itself for the final sprint is exhilarating and terrifying. The speed, the aggressiveness, the agility, the nerve, the impossible collective ability to respond to so much happening so fast. I was positive as the riders funneled down into the final couple thousand meters that there would be a disastrous, spectacular crash. Instead, there was a minor one as a rider or two failed to negotiate a sweeping right-hand turn.
2. Everyone around the race, including all 180 riders, anticipated how the day’s stage would wind up: with Team Columbia-HTC trying to control the front and launch Mark Cavendish. Despite that, no one could stop it from happening. Team Garmin-Slipstream did manage to get their man, Tyler Farrar, into position. Cavendish beat him by three or four bike lengths.
3. Cavendish. Raw power. Absolute certainty that he’s the man. The combination of team and star gives the impression of inevitability in the sprint. Of course, it’s just an impression. No one wins every day. Right?