By Shane Stokes
At 236.5 kilometres in length, the Tour's third stage from Waregem to Compiègne should have taken less than six hours at typical Tour pace, but as it was, the peloton was content to let the breakaway soft-pedal their way to a steady lead and have a lazy summer day coasting on their machines. Australia's Simon Gerrans found the going tedious and difficult, even though the bunch hardly got their heart rates above 100 beats per minute in the first five hours.
"The day was quite boring," the Ag2r rider complained. "You see it quite often when they throw in these crazy long stages that nobody wants to race. It ends up being a bloody hard day at the office, nobody is interested in going that hard for that long."
The breakaway of Mathieu Ladagnous (FdJ) and Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) went clear just kilometres into the stage, and their attempts was one of the first ones of the day, without even having to try too hard to stay away. "There were a few attacks but not for too long. CSC was happy to let something go," Gerrans explained, "So the two guys got clear and were away. They were just playing a game. They were just riding easy in front of us. As soon as we sped up, they sped up a bit. And as soon as we lost time to them, they eased off again."
Riding as slowly as 30 km/h may be easy on the cardio, but Gerrans said it wasn't easy on another part of the body. "You get a hell of a sore butt out of a stage like that! At least it wasn’t hot today - then that would have been hard."
Gerrans' job is to work for Dauphiné winner Christophe Moreau, and he doesn't have any aspirations of repeating the exploits of Ladagnous and Vogondy. "If I see a threatening break go with half a dozen guys in it, then I have to try to be in those sort of moves. But I am not going to go up the road with two guys like today. It's more important to have something for later in the race."