Well, T-Mobile gave it another go today and had Lance relatively separated from the rest of his security guards, but in the end they couldn't crack him and he even put more time into all of the T-Mobile riders. Ullrich cracked last, showing that he really did come prepared for the event, but he still lost another 20 seconds. Michael Rasmussen, who I thought would take the stage, lost time as well today and remains in second but by a minute and 31 seconds now.
Georg Totschnig got a well deserved stage win after a very long day off the front of the race in a breakaway and then solo. Georg is a classy rider who deserves such a win and will likely relish the moment for a long time. He's always been one of the better riders in the big races but never really pulled off the "big win" he's been destined for until now. Nice job Georg!
What else do you say about an epic stage like today? I mean, the race was somewhat subdued with the long breakaway stealing the day and then the "real battle" working itself out on the final slopes. T-Mobile tried in vain to rattle Lance's cage, but it didn't work. Basso even gave it a meek attempt, but it didn't really work. Lance and Basso were seen talking just before Basso made his final move and Lance rode ride up to his wheel... almost as if they were conspiring together... but that wouldn't happen. Basso was third last year and I think he and Lance are working on getting him into second this year. Rasmussen is going to lose some serious time in the final TT, so it is pretty likely Basso will move up a step on the podium this year. It's just a matter of him getting enough time on Ullrich to make sure he stays in second until the final podium. Ivan and Lance have always gotten along well, just look at how last year's Tour went, so it is no surprise that Lance would be willing to work with Ivan to make sure he moves up this year.
The stage profile for tomorrow looks kind of like the side profile of a comb... very spiky. My legs get wobbly just reading about the climbs to be served up. If it weren't on so early in the morning, I'd watch the stage with a beer in hand, but I guess I'll have to have a coffee instead. I'd have picked somebody like Mayo, Heras or some other skinny little Spaniard, but they are nowhere near the front this year. Heck, Heras finished more than 29 minutes down today and Mayo was over 21 minutes down. Too much/ not enough Paella? I don't get it; the Spanish Armada has no balls for their cannons.
We'll see if anybody has the legs to make Lance break a sweat. So far, it looks like the road to Paris is wide open and lined with red carpet and flower petals for him...