All polemique aside the tour delivered another exciting day today. Oddly it might have been the first big mountain day that didn't see a huge GC contender fall out of contention. Today we actually saw more guys riding themselves into the race rather than the other way around (No, not that guy).
On the attack
Denis Menchov & Samuel Sanchez. While all eyes are on......two other guys Denis and Sammy are quietly riding themselves into a great Tour de France. We had a lot of contenders a week ago but apart from ......... those other two guys, D&S are the only two who are really consistent in this race. It's also interesting to note that in spite of all the hubbub those.........other guys are just two minutes ahead and we still have two hard stages left before the long timetrial. Both Menchov and Sanchez have been known to fall victim to a jour sans in the past but there is very little that points to that this year, if anything their form seems on an upward trajectory. At the very least we are looking at a huge battle for third but if either one of the two......other guys is ever so slightly weaker than he thinks on these final climbs, he might just see himself threatened by the two chasers. Well at least by Menchov, SamSan is just here chasing stages as we all know.
Off the back
Ag2r teamspirit There were plenty of riders who faced a moral dilemma on the Port de Balés today. Dinner tonight at the Ag2r table was probably a slightly uncomfortable affair because at the same time as their top GC rider, irishman Nicholas Roche, was trying to stay in contact with the lead after an ill-timed puncture his teammate John Gadret was off the front chasing personal glory. Whether Gadret actually hurt Roche with his riding is hard to say, most certainly not considering the race between the favorites was already in full flight. But one has to wonder what Gadret was hoping to achieve? Stage-victory was out of reach and surely the best way of advancing on GC would be to hang on with the group of favorites. An even better option might have been to actually help the unfortunate Roche who has been very consistent and was on his way to a solid GC result for a young guy. But much like before Roche didn't get a tremendous amount of help and it will be a test of his morale to see if he can claw his way back up the leaderboard. Unassisted.
"Thomas!, Thomas!, Ti-Blanc, Tommy! Another bottle of Pastis for everyone, I'm buying!"