Ok. We’ve had our rest day, complete with (seemingly) obligatory drug bust, and we’re ready to dive into the final, defining week. More on Frank’s positive later.
Now we see if the hard racing that has been inflicted upon the peloton has had any effect on Team Sky. It certainly showed with the break staying away and Fedrigo winning the stage over Christian “VDV” Vandevelde (DAMN I wanted to see him win one!) before the rest.
If there was a stage that had “sprinter” written all over it, that was it, but Sky were in energy conservation mode, Lotto had drilled themselves into a deep hole two stages earlier for Greipel’s third win and have to look aftter VDB tonight; leaving GreenEdge with a lot of work a long way out. Unsurprisingly, they chose to not chase.
The last time Wiggo was in this situation (although racing for 3rd, not 1st) was in 2009 when he eventually lost a lot of time to the Schlecks and Contador, and a little time to Lance on a tough mountain stage. He had VDV doing amazing work then, and Froomey to do the job now, and we shall see if he’s been softened up by Nibali, Cadel, et al, or if he’s still got more in the tank.
Seeing how meticulous Sky have been, you can only assume that he will come through this stage with flying colours.
The hope from Nibali and Cadel is that it is too hard to maintain amazing form for three weeeks of racing, and so Wiggo will be on the wane while they are both on the improve.
They thus will hope to make today intensely hard, with the expectation that even if he defends well today, he will be that much deeper in the hole tomorrow on an even tougher stage, and they will get the time they need then.
The big question will be if they crack Wiggo early, does Froomey go with the leaders, or stick with Wiggo.
I think it’ll be a moot point as Wiggo is on song, but if it were to happen, I reckon Froomey would have to leave Wiggo behind.
That’s for tomorrow – today, I’m on Nibali from VDB from Evans.