Last night’s bike race was a return to normalcy for the boys on the road: the break was allowed to go relatively early, it stayed away all day, and despite a few attempts to put time into each other, the GC boys all finished on the same time. And no, despite repeated claims by Paul Sherwen on the commentary, Thomas Voeckler is not a threat to win the overall. He will possibly finish in the top 10, but only possibly.
That is not to say that the stage yesterday wasn’t great to watch — Contador is clearly back in form, laying down some heavy attacks on the final, very short and steep, climb of the day.
He and Sammy Sanchez also attacked the super technical descent like mad banshees and looked for all money to have clawed a few more seconds out of their rivals, but they were caught within the final few hundred metres by the Evans/Schleck group, ending with no major changes (although Basso has dropped some more time).
It was a very frightening looking descent though — the young Frenchman (Hivert) flying off the side of the road THREE TIMES showed that if your skills weren’t up to the level of desperation you had, you’d end up on the deck, but it seems that there was no harm done to anyone on the day.
Hivert’s desperation was in part because it would appear that the French will have missed out on winning a stage of the Tour this year, and had he have been the man to break that duck, he would have achieved massive acclaim. Voeckler holding the yellow for so long has meant that the Tour would be considered a success for French cycling, but no stage wins (compared to Norway’s FOUR!?!?!) isn’t a great result by any means.
And so we head to the two toughest stages of the race, now seeing that Contador is back in form, the Schlecks are going well, although not devastatingly so, and Evans is looking solid. It’s down to four real hopes (Sanchez being an outsider) with four days to ride.
Bring it on!