Great, great stage today, up into the Pyrenees, into Basque country, with two massive climbs at the end of the stage, first over the top of the Pont de Pailheres and the finish on the evil Plateau de Beille. Nothing "belle" about this climb - brutal grades and a driving headwind that scatters the field like chaff.
Contador takes the stage for Discovery and his native Spain after riding a cunning but ugly last 2k, forcing Rasmussen to drag him up to the line and the win to defend yellow. But Rasmussen himself shows today, with his brilliant attack on the slopes of the Plateau, that he deserves to wear the Yellow and may in fact be a great champion of the Tour.
Sadly, my guy Vino cracked on the slopes of the Pailheres and never caught up. For him the Tour is over. The only question now is whether he continues to try and help Astana or abandons. He must be in terrific pain.
Can't understand Cadal Evans. He looked dangerous all the way up to the yellow jersey attack on the way up the plateau - and then he was gone. Nothing. Maybe yesterdays TT took too much out of him, as it seems to with Vino.
Discovery, BTW, is really impressing me. Last year they were utter crap. This year they are well in the running for the team competition and still have two, Contador and Leipheimer, in striking distance for yellow. Hincapie is a mystery to me. He just doesn't give up but he hasn't really been pulling his weight, either. Group News Blog (the first link at the top) passes on a rumor that he's thinking of jumping to T-Mobil next season. Hmmmm...
And Iban, Iban...if you were gonna suck, why not stick to sucking at time trialing. You really blew today, after your team worked to hard to set you up. You little bitch. I don't love you anymore. So, there.