Welcome to the Road to Lauron, second in a three part series How the Tour Was Won (or Not) In the Pyrenees. Actually, Versus has omitted this stage from its Not-to-Miss list, so you can feel free to go get some errands done or something.
Of course, I'd been poo-poo'ing this stage a bit too, based solely on the stats: two cat-2 climbs, two cat-1 climbs, one h.c. climb (the Port de Balès, 35km from the line), and a downhill finish. But as usual, the riders make the race, not the course, and reading the commentary I'm getting the idea that today might be a very interesting day indeed. Most likely animators: Discovery Channel, who hope to keep landing combinations on the Chicken's body until he crumples. He might never, but hey, kudos to Bruyneel and co. if they give it a whirl. Rasmussen doesn't look like he's going to eliminate himself anytime soon.
So let's review... Things I said earlier in the Tour:
- Bruyneel is nuts
- the Chicken sucks
- this stage will be a snore
What does it all mean? Set your VCRs for Monday morning.