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Stage 18 Open Thread

There is still a stage 18 to be raced, and two more after that as well... each of which -- not just Saturday's time trial -- could have some impact on the overall. Today it's a downhill run with a few categorized climbs thrown in to ensure that a bunch of guys several hours back will break away. And after what's gone on the last three days, you'd be hard-pressed to identify anyone willing to stop them.

You have to wonder about the T-Mobs, Sastre and Pereiro though. They let Landis take the race to them Thursday (vast understatement here), so will their response be to just try their luck in the time trial? I seem to recall one of the main principles of the Art of War was not to fight on your opponent's terms... but if that's what Sastre and Pereiro resign themselves to doing, there is no Earthly reason to believe they can win.

The alternative is to try to pressure Landis and each other on the small climbs tomorrow. You never know, maybe guys will be wrecked and won't respond, but realistically there isn't anyplace to do much. Landis himself only blew up on a huge climb where he couldn't take it anymore; after what he's demonstrated about his character, it's hard to believe he can't gut out anything less than a major HC climb on a bad day... and there are no more HC climbs in this Tour.

So that makes Friday a meaningless transition stage. We'll see; but it's bound to be entertaining anyway. Let's get started: