Alternate title for stage report; T who? Mobile what?
Wow, you could hear the "boom" when T-Mobile blew apart all the way over here in Southern California. Ullrich and Kloden both down by 2:14 and Vinokourov over 5 minutes down? Well, it looks like T-Mobile is once again fighting for 2nd and 3rd. Looks like that podium sweep is not going to happen after all.
After 6 years of killing people on the first big mountain stage of the event, you'd think that every team in the race would just sit on Lance's wheel and wait for him to make a move. How he gets away with it once again is completely beyond me.
Alejandro Valverde rode a very impressive race today and confirmed that he has the class to be a player in the future of the race. He's been stuck with the label of "only in Spain" after winning at will in Spain and getting blanked everywhere else. He finally started winning elsewhere this year and picks up a nice win ahead of Lance today. Valverde is a fine sprinter, so it was merely a matter of whether or not he had anything left in the tank to pull off the win today. Clearly, he did.
How about my boy Horner? 20th today and well ahead of some key players in the event. If he maintains this form, he could end up top 20 when he gets to Paris. That'd be mighty cool.
I have to throw a bone to Joseba Beloki today too. 26th on a very tough stage in his first Tour since the horrible crash two years ago. I know it isn't the kind of race he would like to be having, but it has to give him a little hope and confidence.
So now the GC is scrambled and some people are going to be trying to figure out what went wrong. Obviously, Discovery is doing just fine and now T-Mobile is the team that people have to wonder about. CSC looks strong enough to be able to support Basso, who is now 3rd. What about the Chicken, Rasmussen? Could he manage to hold on to a podium spot and his polka dot jersey? If he gains more time on his rivals before the next TT, he may be able to limit his losses enough that he stays in contention for the podium. Go Chicken!
Tomorrow's stage has two Haute Categorie climbs and one Category 1 climb that is likely to rip many a leg to pieces. Anybody who doesn't get a good night's sleep tonight will be hating life tomorrow. Could Lance throw down the official gauntlet and take the stage and put a big enough gap on the other GC hopefuls that he could sip Champagne all the way to Paris? Will Basso come out of his hibernation and really climb? What about T-Mobile? Can they pull it together and put some legs under themselves again, like two stages ago?
Too many possibilities to even try and do the trigonometry on. Needless to say, it will be a very interesting day tomorrow.