After trashing the USOC, Tour de Suisse, Italian soccer team and Roberto Donadoni (with extreme prejudice), I may need to correct the impression that I'm somehow in a bad mood today. Au contraire, things are fine. A little disturbed by the Tim Russert news, but otherwise the Celtics are on the verge of more Boston sports hardware, the Seattle weather doesn't totally suck, my new commuter rear wheel was nicely rebuilt, and we're going camping this weekend. So no complaints.
And to prove how even-tempered I'm feeling today, I'll say this: the Dauphiné Libéré has given us about all we as fans could want in such a race. Assuming you can't ask the future Tour de France combatants to go all out against each other, it's enough that Valverde and Evans spent today climbing the Joux-Plane together and tossing testing little jabs back and forth. It's also enough that each day has brought out some interesting new faces to watch: yesterday it was Pierre Rolland (and the return of Cyril Dessel); today it's Yuriy Trophy Mom just outdistancing the galacticos on the Col de Joux-Plane. And it's more than enough for Dutch fans, who savored the sight of Robert Gesink shelling the entire peloton but for Valverde, Evans, Zubelidia and one or two others... a nice appetizer before a Dutch feast of chicken cordon-Bleus in the evening. All things considered, this is about what you'd want in a Dauphiné to this point. Whether Valverde and Evans feel the need to limit their efforts over the next two days remains to be seen. Tomorrow is more of a monster, and some careful decisionmaking will need to happen in both camps. Lacking the ability to go all out, someone else will no doubt step up. [Gesink, for one, must be thrilled at a race that doesn't end with a descent.] Good show, all.