(Sorry for the very late post this evening; my home internet provider isn't actually providing much internet lately and so my internet service is what has kept me from posting today.)
Is there a chink in the Discovery armor? Did Lance really have to fight it out on his own in the first mountain stage of the Tour? Was he actually isolated or is Discovery faking it to make the other teams think he's got a weakened team?
Pieter Weening, the 25 year old rider for Rabobank, just squeaked by a rejuvenated (where the hell was he all Spring) Andreas Kloden from T-Mobile. Either rider deserved the win today after the courage they showed. Weening broke away from a small group at the base of the climb and managed to stay away until the final few meters of the climb when Kloden caught up to him after some pretty spectacular fireworks back in the field as Armstrong was getting tested and Discovery was ripping apart at the seams. Lance looked good, even though he says it was hard and he was less than perfect, and fought well to stay in yellow. Tex was being attacked from all angles, as many have said is the only way to beat him. Have the other teams finally caught on to what the rest of the entire world has been suggesting?
Now, being a gamblin' man myself, I'd be willing to predict that Lance is in great form and that the Discovery team is just fine. I'd suggest that they are saving a little energy, bluffing and letting the other teams do some of the work. I predict that Lance will do his usual big attack in the real mountains and send the pretenders packing and bring the real contenders out of hiding.
The Bratwurst King, Ullrich, looked positively comfortable sitting behind Mr. 6-Time. T-Mobile looked to finally be riding an aggressive race with Vino attacking all over the climb to soften the Disco Boys and then Kloden finding his missing legs and riding away from the rest of the field and then holding them off until the finish line. Ullrich sat on Lance and followed him every time he accelerated in response to attacks. Illes Balears even had Valverde making some aggressive moves today.
I'm starting to like this race. Hey, if the Li'l Pardner was riding a Masi, I'd be even more excited. He probably would have had a better day if he were on a Masi, but he'll just have to make due with those other bikes.
Tomorrow offers up several rolling climbs and then hits the first Category 1 climb of the race this year. If Lance really is vulnerable, we might find out tomorrow. Maybe we'll see Tex add to his lead with a well timed "I was just kidding" attack... like always. It should prove to be worth watching.
Ok, gotta' mention two guys today for different reasons;
Zabriskie was in a boatload of pain after his last crash and finished last today, but inside the cutoff. Poor kid. Gutsy ride to not give up when everybody would forgive him.
Chris Horner, finally riding his first Tour, managed to stay in the thick of things today and finished 9th today and sits in 45th. As mentioned before, Chris is a hometown hero here, so his performance today makes us all swell with a bit of pride. Go Chris, go!