19 July 2009
So the racing action that we have been waiting for actually happened today. Most of the stage was a break which had some very interesting riders in it, but was caught at the end. A lot of other people wanted the stage win. And various teams, including Saxo and Astana turned on the speed in the first few k of the climb. It did look like a moderate climb, that is, no really steep bits, but at that speed it must have been hellish. Anyway the crucial thing is the attack of Contador, the slightly late and not terribly successful attempt of A Schleck to follow (resulting in second place) and a couple of other attacks. For example, Wiggins attacked and did good job of it. One never knows, but the French commentators are gobsmacked by Wiggins. They just have no idea how he can do the climbs and are puzzled as to what he is doing in third place.
So the racing was good, some surprises n the GC, as well as confirmation of what most already thought or knew. It is clear now that unless something very odd happens, and it does happen in the Tour, Contador will win. There might even be three Astana in the top ten or perhaps if the attackers don't get it together, in the top five. This is a superb result for that team. Although maybe people tend to play down Lance's performance, I think he is doing rather well. If he does continue to lose time on the other players, then he could drop like a stone. I am still convinced he will finish in the top ten and maybe the top five. For an old guy coming out of retirement he has done very well. I even think in interviews today he seemed to understand the word humble and admitting when you are not the best. But you can never believe him, so we wait to see. Maybe he will win everyone's heart by being a super domestique for Alberto. All this is subject to the next week's action, but it looks like the yellow jersey is taken care of.
As a result of the disqualification of Cavendish, it looks like the green jersey is over too. I have reviewed the film of the last minute, on You Tube, and I think he cut off Thor. He didn't need to, he could have just won, but he cut him off. It means that Cav won't have to do anything whatever for the next few days, no intermediate sprints, no nothing. Just wait, stay cool, take it easy up the climbs and win on the Champs. Maybe he might try something on one stage, there is a flattish one into the Ardeche on Friday. Bad day really for the Columbia guys and their strategist. No doubt their work in the last kilometres was enough to take the six seconds from Hincapie that he needed to be in yellow. The worst thing is that they totally missed the sprint points too. A bad day.
[Frankly, my heart really is not in this blog today. I am sure I will have plenty of time during the rest day to catch up. Real life is just intruding way too much]
There were others who are gave us slight surprises. Bradley Wiggins is surprising everyone. I should say something other than the British guy in me, and the surprise guy in me are both delighted. Wiggins is different than Le Mevel who also finds himself in the top ten. Le Mevel will almost certainly drift out. Wiggins might not.
I really am going to go to bed early. I will catch up tomorrow.