When the riders took the left turn that led to the first intermediate sprint there two distinct groups keen to bid for the bonuses which were on offer in Montendre. It might be one of hundreds of towns which have hosted intermediate sprints, but the top three in Montendre were far from ordinary. Robbie McEwen timed his sprint to perfection. He claimed the six points he needed to put himself on equal terms with the rider in the green jersey, Baden Cooke. The next two over the line were Ullrich and Armstrong. What the hell? Was their effort just a practice run for what is yet to come? If so, the dress rehearsal augured well for the German. He easily got clear of the rider in the yellow jersey after beginning his sprint about 600 meters before the line.