More question than answers on this tricky first climby day. Some guys suffered in the heat while others found it a perfect setting for some classic Tour de France heroism.
On the attack
Quick Step. This is the team that we usually make jokes about how they go into hibernation when April is over and the world of cycling moves away from cobbles, crosswinds and classics. Don't look now but it's now July and they are absolutely dominating the biggest race in the world. Jerome Pineau did what everyone was expecting but where unable to prevent anyway when he raked up most of the KOM points of the day and when he was done, Sylvain Chavanel attacked for a spectacular solo win. Twice now this Tour he has pulled off strong attacks that no one has really been able to match, today it was a very motivated Damiano Cunego who came up short when faced with the relentless offensive of Chavanel. If we don't get pictures by tomorrow of Patric Lefevere jumping on his bed wearing yellow and polkadots I'll be sorely disappointed.
Off the back
Bbox-Bouygues Telecom What a shitty day these guys had. This morning it looked like a perfect stage for their aces Fedrigo and Voeckler to grab a stagewin. Then all of a sudden a break has gone and whattaya know, Bbox managed to miss it. Not to worry though, the gap is just around a minute so there is ample opportunity to pull it back and bridge one of their guys to the breakaway, right? Now this is where the story starts to get tragic. It seems our french friends weren't really all that committed so after a bit of healfhearted chasing they let the lead balloon out to 8 minutes. After some heavy thinking in the team-car the DS decides that he really really does want to chase down that break anyway (and perhaps punish his team with a little hard labor) and the Bweegs ultimately get sent to the front to close the gap. Many many kms later the break is within reach and the teams captain Voeckler finally goes on the attack bringing a teammate with him. Despite gesticulating wildly that no one is allowed to follow his attack, others ignored this international "this is my toy, you guys can't play with it"-sign and went up the road with him. Most prominent in the group of party-poopers was Chavanel who ultimately went on to take Voeckler's candy and ensure a really quiet night at the Bweeg dinner table. Better luck next time mes amis.
" If you are french and want to celebrate glorious triumphs you should seek work abroad. Just look at me............and eeh, that Sylvain fella."