It couldn’t go on like that.

Men can only ‘death race’ for so long and then they need a ‘blaw.’

Today, they took the chance to lean on their shovels and left the minnows to grab the glory.

I really didn’t expect to see the finalé but when the box kindled up, there it was – with 12 K to go and a race average of 34 kph.

Paulinho; I remember him for his Olympic silver in the 2004, behind Bettini.

Paulinho, Bettini and Merckx atop the Olympic Podium, six years ago.

But prior to that he had solid palmares; a bronze in the U23 Worlds TT and a Portuguese elite TT title as well as Volta a Portugal stages.

Since the Olympics he’s added a Vuelta stage (2006), another Portuguese TT title (2008) and was in the victorious Astana TTT squad in last year’s Tour – but he’s best known as being a rock solid domestique.

‘Lance don’t employ no cissies, boy!’

A move that caught my eye today was Nicolas Roche’s scarpering to snaffle back time and move up the GC – it matters to that laddie.

Ivan clued us in today on what Bruyneel is saying about the race; Alberto or Andy Schleck to win, no one else; Jurgen Van Den Broeck is good; Basso and Kreuziger are toiling; Menchov and Leipheimer are the other podium candidates; LA is better, Sanchez is good, Evans merits praise for his courage and Gesink is the future hope – no other names are mentioned.

‘Wiggins, bye-bye podium’ says the headline in Monday’s L’Équipe; and that was Sunday’s performance they were talking about, never mind Tuesday’s.

Wiggins Bye Bye Podium
Wiggins: Bye Bye Podium.

They don’t mince their words, or mess about when rating riders – Schleck’s Sunday performance got him 9/10, Cadel 7/10, Bert 5/10, Bradley 3/10 and Lance 1/10 – how are the mighty fallen.

LA Mon Tour Est Fini
Armstrong: Mon Tour Est Fini.

The sprinters come back out of the wings tomorrow, albeit Cav did something unusual for him, today – he sprinted for a minor placing to nab points.

He’s still carrying that green jersey dream, then.

A demain.