First mountain stage, and it was worth the wait!
As predicted, the peleton fractured into pieces on the first mountain. There were 20 or so riders back in the “sprinters bus” including one of the GC favourites, Iban Mayo. I guess his dreams of GC are over. Other riders who didn’t seem to have what it takes in the mountains but who’ve managed to get back into the peleton on the long flats include Levi Leipheimer and yellow jersey wearer Sergei Gonchar, and my hero from the Giro a few years back, Cunego.
Gonchar is definitely *not* T-Mobile’s preferred leader – his team was setting tempo on both of the major climbs in spite of the fact that it was causing him to drop off the back of the peleton. If he’d really been the leader, they would have either slacked off or sent somebody back for him. Instead, they had him carrying bottles, and made him take a pull up front for part of the downhill drag into the finish. I guess they’re dedicating themselves to Kloden or Rogers.
Cyril Dessel took yellow by being one of two survivors of a group that got way ahead and stayed ahead – the two man break-away was leading by nine and a half minutes with 5km to go, but they were fighting each other for the stage win and so ended up finishing 7:23 up on the peleton. He’ll also have the polka dot jersey for the “King of the Mountains”. He’s likely to lose both of them in the next two days as other opportunistic breaks go up the mountains.
Freire, Zabel and Bennati are in the peleton while McEwan and Boonen were in the sprinters bus, so yesterday’s stage winner and those others will gain some ground in the green jersey competition, but not enough to wear it yet.
Tomorrow is another mountainous stage, but this time it finishes up a long climb. The announcers don’t seem to agree with me, but I would expect the GC contenders to have a go at getting some time on each other tomorrow, since it finishes with a long climb. An attack on the mountain, but with no downhill to recover and regroup, would be a great opportunity to stir things up. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are not so much flat as “lumpy”, but nothing great is going to happen to the GC on those days. Monday is another rest day, and then Tuesday is a mountain stage that finishes on the famous Alpe D’Huez.