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Stage 14 Open Thread

So now what??

As the race now stands, Michael Rasmussen is going to win the Tour unless one of two things happens:

  • Someone or ones take(s) time out of him in the Pyrenees; or
  • He gets creamed in the final time trial... assuming his lead doesn't grow before then.

The former isn't looking likely. If any day, today should have been the one where the Chicken wilted. He dug awfully deep yesterday, today was one of those days, etc. Didn't happen. He was probably the best climber, finishing even with Contador and never showing a moment of weakness. If anything, tomorrow the group will probably finish together or near each other, and Wednesday will be all out war... after a rest day. Does anyone hate the chicken's chances under those conditions? Me neither, unfortunately.

The latter? Assuming the gaps hold... not a safe assumption by any means... then Contador, Evans and Klöden can't be discounted. Contador isn't known as the ace time trialist the other two apparently are, so his ascension isn't overly likely next Saturday, but his gap is pretty manageable. Klödi took about 85 seconds out of the Chicken yesterday on a compromised course with some climbing, two factors that helped the maillot jaune. Barring a huge tailwind, the Cognac ITT will be much harder for him, and both Evans' and Klödi's deficits won't be insurmountable. But they'll be big stretches. Leipheimer is there too but there's little chance of him making up that much time or staying close to Klöden. He needs a miracle to win.

Stick a fork in: Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Iban Mayo, Mikel Astarloza.