Blazin' Saddles

Chapeau to Pineau

Blazin' Saddles

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It happens about as often as a hung parliament, but on Thursday three plucky underdogs defied the peloton onslaught and made it to the end, their slender lead intact.

The spoils went to Frenchman Jerome Pineau, who won with his head and his legs after breakaway companion Yukiya Arashiro took the initiative and pulled out a full banzai charge on the final straight.

Bent on being Japan's first ever Grand Tour stage winner, Arashiro's kamikaze attempt was to prove just that, and with his legs turning to sushi, the BBox man was beaten by the experience of 30-year-old Pineau, who followed team-mate Wouter Weylandt's stage-three victory with the best result of his career.

Blimey, that's two wins in five days on a Grand Tour for QuickStep - and Tom Boonen's not even racing. Now that happens about as often as a successful coalition government formed after a hung parliament.

Weylandt's victory had helped appease Patrick Lefevere after the QuickStep manager made it known that he had had words with the Belgian sprinter following his poor recent performances.

Presumably if Lefevere had given Weylandt a bit of beef for being off the ball since mid-2009 then he must have given Pineau the full cow for being largely anonymous on the bike since his lowly Paris-Bourges victory back in 2004.

Once heralded as a future star of French cycling, Pineau never really caused a splash, and a second place in Paris-Camembert was about as good as it had got in recent memory.

Say the word 'Pineau' to most Frenchmen and they'll think you're offering them an aperitif. But Saddles always has a soft spot for underachieving underdogs so even he'll raise a glass of fortified wine to Pineau's last gasp victory.

Of course, had the peloton and the main sprinters' teams done their jobs properly, the outcome would have been very different. Messrs Greipel, Farrar, Petacchi and Henderson must be kicking themselves - and there won't be another chance for the fast men for a good three days or so.

Earlier in the stage, German Paul Voss (Milram) won enough mountain points to secure his green jersey before cracking and being dropped by the peloton (they don't make 'em like they did back in the 40s).

In other big news, Sky's Greg Henderson lost his shoes after Wednesday's TTT but found them again. What use is it having the best bus in town if the Sky riders don't have anywhere to store their flash footwear?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's good for the soul to see a breakaway make it to the finnish (sic) every so often." Charly Wegelius betrays his Scandinavian roots with his reaction to stage five on Twitter.

Follow Blazin' Saddles throughout the Giro on

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