Thursday, July 23, 2009

The queen stage

Yesterday's gruelling stage in the Tour de France certainly lived up to its promise.

First off; Thor Hushovd all but sealed victory in his battle for the green jersey with Britain's Mark Cavendish by winning both the day's intermediate sprints. To do so meant going out alone on one the category 1 climbs of the day followed by a category 2 climb. Maybe he was trying to show that winning the points jersey was more about consistent performance than about being carried along by your team all day just to make a huge effort in the last few hundred metres of a race.

The real drama though was the battle between the brothers Schleck and Alberto Contador. Neither could shake the other off in the final climbs of the day. By attacking the Schlecks, Contador distanced himself from his teammates Kloder and Armstrong and left himself vulnerable. A risky manoeuvre but it It paid off.

Barry Wiggins continued to give all that he had got to keep up but in the presence of the best climbers in the world he dropped back into 6th place. It was Wiggins that Contador feared could beat him in the time trial today. He now believes that the gap between them is sufficient to prevent that from happening.

Armstrong still thinks that the race will ultimately be won on the 21.1km climb of Mont Ventoux. We shall see.

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