Endurance: Peter Sagan

Mark CavendishBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesMark Cavendish wasn't shy in celebrating his win in Stage 5 last week. (Enough with the Brits, already!)
Random thoughts after the first rest day of the Tour de France while hoping that I’m never behind the Orica-Greenedge team bus heading into a tunnel ...

Sigh. Maybe It’s Time For 7-Eleven To Sponsor A Team Again: The Tour’s individual stage winners, in order, have been Germany’s Marcel Kittel, Belgium’s Jan Bakelants, Australia’s Simon Gerrans, England’s Mark Cavendish, Germany’s Andre Greipel, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, Britain’s Chris Froome (who was born in Kenya and grew up in Africa), Ireland’s Dan Martin and Kittel again. The yellow jersey has been worn by Kittel, Bakelants, Gerrans, South Africa’s Daryl Impey and Froome. That’s a pretty impressive United Nations of riders, representing eight countries (and two from Africa), if you count Kenya for Froome.

Two countries conspicuously absent? The United States and France.

A French rider, of course, hasn’t won the Tour since 1985, though France did win five stages last year and Thomas Voeckler was in yellow for 10 stages in 2011. American riders, however, have won only one stage in the past six Tours (sprinter Tyler Farrar, Stage 3 in 2011) and haven’t had anyone in yellow since Floyd Landis in 2006 -- a jersey he was quickly stripped of because of doping. Technically, the last American in yellow was Greg LeMond in 1991.

The U.S. won’t have anyone in yellow this year either, though Andrew Talansky, the current top American in the standings (25th and 11:15 behind Froome), could wear white as the top young rider.

Meanwhile, Christian Vande Velde crashed out and Ted King was eliminated by falling seven seconds outside the limit in the team time trial. Tejay van Garderen, perhaps the most promising American rider heading into the Tour, suffered from the heat in a terrible Stage 8 and is 50th, 35 minutes behind. Tom Danielson and Brent Bookwalter are the only other Americans still in the race.

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Cancellara, Boonen still tops in classics

April, 8, 2013
Fabian CancelllaraBryn Lennon/Getty ImagesFabian Cancellara now owns three Paris-Roubaix trophies and six overall victories in the monuments.
LEON, Spain -- Fabian Cancellara's victory Sunday in Paris-Roubaix proved yet again he is not going to give up his throne as king of the cobbles without a fight.

After his injury-plagued 2012 season, Cancellara's win last week at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) reconfirmed his place at the top of the peloton's pecking order. His third Roubaix trophy Sunday came against another upstart rival looking to usurp his crown, this time Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco), a week after Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) took on Peter Sagan (Cannondale) at the Tour of Flanders.

Sunday's action was tighter than a piano string and the only element missing was Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who was at home licking his wounds after crashing out of Flanders.

While the buzz is centered on the arrival of the likes of Sagan and Vanmarcke, it's Boonen and Cancellara who remain the center of gravity each spring. Both have endured their share of hiccups the past few years, but Cancellara and Boonen still stand head and shoulders above the pack.

On Sunday, Cancellara completed the Flanders-Roubaix double for the second time in his career. Cancellara and Boonen are the only two riders who have accomplished the Flanders-Roubaix double twice in their careers, a stat that pushes them into elite company.

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