Ok, so Barloworld's Soler wins the stage, Rasmussen manages to stay in yellow, the bulk of the favorites stay in contention... and Vinokourov cracks and slides down to 21st on GC at 8:05 down. Nearly everybody's top pick to win the Tour is now almost certainly out of contention for the podium. Barloworld has proven their place in the Tour. Discovery actually attacked the field (not Levi yet, though) for a change. Rasmussen rode a great ride in yellow and all of a sudden looks like a grand tour leader. In the words of the immortal bard... "what the fudge?"
Mauricio Soler rode a brilliant stage today and captured a beautiful win. Previously, Soler had only ever won a stage of the Tour of Columbia. Now he moves into the pantheon of great climbers in Tour history. Michael Rasmussen rode a very smart race and the Rabobank team shepherded their climbing phenom to the finish and protected his lead. Rasmussen can climb better than nearly any rider alive, but even I can out time trial the guy. He's not going to protect his lead in the TT's, so he has to do all he can to solidify his lead now. The Discovery team, quite possibly for the first time in their history (certainly post Lance), went on the offensive. Disco actually made the race more exciting for a change. Popovych and Contador both rode very aggressively and made the race happen, as opposed to sitting in like Disco normally does. The other major GC contenders all rode strongly and cemented their positions... except for poor Vino. The guy has just had a shitty Tour, the Tour that was supposed to be his. It's hard to not like the guy and watching his race fall apart is just kinda painful.
Tomorrow is a relatively flat day, with just a couple cat 3 and 4 climbs. Compared to the past few days, it should be an "easy" day. I'd expect to see long breaks going up the road, especially riders who are way down the GC- guys like Jens Voigt, maybe Chris Horner (though he should be watching his boss, Cadel Evans), Patrice Halgand or even Stefan Schumacher. My pick is Voigt and Horner. I think both could get into the right move and make it work... at least I hope, because I need the points.
Ok... go Horner!