Attack! Attack! After years of Lance Armstrong inspired sensible bike racing where the best teams would put all of their boys on the from to make life difficult throughout a stage and then have a final climb big gun hit out, early attacks are back.
And we, the viewing public, are all the richer for it!
The stage last night was, amazingly, even better than the night before in that Alberto Contador set forth on the attack on the first of three massive hills, towing Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Thomas Voeckler up the hill in a battle over 100km.
To add to the drama, Evans’ bike had a major mechanical issue just as things got going causing him to dismount three times before finally changing his bike and losing 70sec.
While Cadel was dealing with his bike, Voeckler was battling on solo up the hill, showing the heart of a warrior, but slowly dropping out of touch with Contador and Schleck. Cadel had his team organise the chase of the lead two and showed the maturity that was lacking in his earlier attempts at winning the Tour in that he allowed his team to do as much work as they could before he then went to work.
After much gesticulating, posturing and pork-choppery, all of the main contenders hit the bottom of the final climb, the legendary Alpe D’Huez, at the same time.
Things were all set up for a great fight on this legendary mountain! Ryder Hesjedal opened the assault with Frenchman Pierre Rolland, then Contador and Sanchez went, dragging Rolland with them. These three would fight it out, with Rolland the enormous surprise packet of the Tour winning France’s first stage of the Tour.
Cadel and the Schlecks continued their battle behind this, with the end result being a stalemate, all crossing the line on the same time. Both Cadel and Andy would consider this a neutral result, neither good nor bad, and both know that with a good time trial and a little luck they can still win the race.
Things have been setup almost as if by a scriptwriter, and we are in for a magnificent finish with the Grenoble time trial tonight.