Stage 11 16-7-10
A transition stage with a well-beloved, steep, short climb at the end, with a last k or so on an airport runway (always have found that odd). I got up a bit later, trying to throw off this cold, and missed not much. The escape was divided into two bits, and the peloton was slowly clawing back time on them both. Although the real chase had not begun. Fignon said the winner would NOT come from the escape, but the peloton. He was right. The right guy won the stage, although in my heart, I was sorry that there was not a way that Vino could have had the victory. Still, he will have other chances for glory, even in this Tour. It is a shame though. Rodriguez, excellent ride.
As for the 'psychological blow' of Contador's attack on Schleck, I figure it was no big deal. On the other hand, it came later in the race than Andy's late attack o Alberto earlier. The big stages start soon, so maybe it has a bit more weight that Andy's attack. Like a goal just before half time. I still think we have no idea if Andy can take a couple of minutes out of Alberto in the mountains. He has three stages to do it. It should be an excellent sporting spectacle in one of the finest arenas you could even have, the Pyrenees. Still, today Alberto did a nice little attack, and dropped Schleck, or at least Andy was forced to think about whether to bother. In any case, it has to be Andy who attacks later in the Tour. But that has always been the case. It was a bit of a surprise that Alberto attacked today. Small psychological blow. Still massive uncertainties.
I see that Thor got back his jersey. I am pleased for him. On the other hand, when the green jersey is awarded or earned and awarded by small points in sprints in between THE sprint, I find it a little bit less classy. Rules is rules. Same thing goes for the mountains jersey. It is being fought over by non-climbers trying to get a piece of glory by reading the rules and taking advantage of them in minute detail, rather than the just reward for the actual best climber. That is, the guy who actually climbs best. I am pretty sure that one or the other of the GC guys might take the polk dot jersey in the end. I hope so. And the white jersey is on the shoulders of Gesink, which is nice, but really it is with Schleck. Schleck as two now. Maybe he will do really well and end up woth hyoung, polka dot, green and yellow all at the same time. It is possible.
The commentators on French TV were forced, by some kind of pressure, to apologise for mocking Moreau yesterday when he sprinted for mountain points that were not there. Apparently Moreau might have been misinformed by headquarters. Or something. Still, Fignon apparently apologised. My wife heard that, I didn't. Apparently Moreau's feelings were hurt. I still have not heard him talking about it. Time for Christophe to quit the game. When he makes a basic mistake and others say it is a basic mistake, and he has his feelings hurt because people said he made a basic mistake … time to stop. He blew it.
Fignon has also aligned himself with the side that says that Renshaw's acts, while spectacular and visible, were really not that dangerous. Renshaw should not have been excluded. L'Equipe on the other hand had several articles sharing the view that the punishment was right, the crime was a big deal. This will run for some time. Unless Cav wins both remaining flat stages. That would be cool. I am now FOR him until the end of the Tour.
I thought today would be three races in one, which is a quite amusing type of stage. In it, the four at the front would have fought it out for the stage win. Then peloton catching or not catching the other fourteen or whatever, as they struggled up the hill, would have been another. Then the final sprint for victory. We sort of had that, in the sense that it was not crystal clear that Rodriguez and Contador ('the peloton') would have caught Vino, although they did. If Vino had won then the break would have 'succeeded'. I did want it to work out that Vino would win, but you can see easily why Contador had to pass him. If only Vino had been twenty more seconds up the road, maybe ten. Right stage victor too. If I were Contador I would NEVER have beaten Rodriguez no matter what. Not sure he could, but still, he did the right thing. Anyway there was enough racing in the last few minutes, although not during most of the stage. Tomorrow even more chance a successful breakaway as none of the big guns or their teams want to work hard before the Pyrenees on Sunday.
Did you noticed we passed yet another Col de la Pierre Plantee? Google the name sometime. I wonder how many there are in France. Less than Pont du Diable, but quite a few. More than Col de l'Homme Mort.
Today they had some lovely easy descents, dry roads, new surfaces, not many tight curves … they got up to more than 100kph. I think that is really fast. I never go more than 65kph.
Sad to see Farrar out of it. No idea why yet.
Maybe this is going to be shorter than I thought. It was a good finish, but Contador just rode away from everyone except Rodriguez, although not by that much. What is there to say? Another stage a bit like that tomorrow, except not climb at the end, so an escape? I am in the middle of a good book as well, so there is no need to write when I have nothing to say. Mind you I surely would have liked to have that downpour they had at Mende, just after the finish. It was still 32 degrees and totally dry when I started writing this, after the post Tour shows. They now show the history segment done by Jean Paul Olivier right at the end of the after Tour show. All a bit more interesting that Velo Club was.
Bring on the mountains.