The first big mountain stage of the Tour has exposed the form of the riders who have intentions of finishing on the podium in the race. The best five in the race to date have been Wiggins, Evans, Nibali, Froome and Van Den Broeck (VDB).
Bizarrely, Chris Froome is probably the best in the race right now: he completely cracked Cadel Evans AND (briefly) dropped his own team leader.
He finished off his unbelievable day by riding Wiggo and the other stars off his wheeel in the final 500m.
Vincenzo Nibali & VDB both had a little bit of leeway granted them with aggressive attacks early in the final climb, but they had their moves neutralised by (you guessed it) Froomey.
Nibali showed he is climbing brilliantly, but similar to the Schlecks last year with Evans, he frankly can’t put any time into the stronger time triallist.
Sadly for Cadel Evans, today was a bad day. He did as he needed to and attacked early in the stage, but didn’t look super convincing even then.
On the final climb with a couple of km to go he eventually popped under the strain of the amazing tempo ridden by Chris Froome. He lost another 90-odd seconds on Wiggo, and will battle to recover from this to win the race.
Wiggins has, however, shown signs of potentially being cracked, so Nibali will retain his hopes of breaking clear of Wiggo in the Pyrenees.
The Italian’s hope will be that Chris Froome stays with Wiggo when (if) that happens so he can get some more time out of the best on ground!!
Pierre Rolland won the day, by the way, and looks a good show as a contender in years to come, but the big news is Cadel cracking.