Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stage 17: Bourg-Saint-Maurice - Le Grand-Bornand 169.5km

It’s called the Queen Stage for a reason. It was fucking brilliant. Yeah, the yellow jersey still belongs to Contador, but it was almost worth it to watch Contador and the Schleck brothers work their way up that mountain. Who knew that it would be so dramatic? Who knew that there would be so many time differences between everyone on the course? Probably some people will claim they saw it all coming, but I’m going to tell you that they’re wrong. Sure, they might have said ‘oh, that Fränk Schleck, he’s totally going to win a stage’ but they didn’t know which one. And I’ll be honest, I definitely figured it’d be Andy who won, not Fränk.

But anyway, the stage itself. There was a breakaway that included, among others, KOM leader Pellizotti and my boy, Sylvain Chavanel. Of course, neither of them was ever going to win the stage. Hell, it was only going to be one of the top 10 who would take the win. The Col de Romme and the Col de la Colombière were always going to be the center of any attack and it was no different. What was odd, well not odd but different, was that there were only three riders strong enough to do anything. Others tried, and Contador said in his post-race interview that he desperately wanted Andreas Klöden to get the stage win (which is a whole different story related back to when Armstrong was trying to give Landis the stage win on the same mountain and Klöden attacked and almost took the win, but Armstrong was having none of it and beat Klöden to the finish). It should have been payback, but that was not to be because Klöden, for whatever reason, just couldn’t keep up.

So, in the end, everyone else was dropped except for the two Schleck boys and Contador. Which was especially sad for me, because Wiggins just couldn’t get going. I suppose that’s less fuel for his detractors, because obviously he’s no perfect. But he’ll kick ass tomorrow on the ITT. So the rest of y’all can suck it. The GC did change, though not the yellow. Instead of Armstrong (who lost a bit of time, but did attack as well – there’s apparently some drama here, but I don’t give a fuck about it, so whatever) in second, it’s Contador, Andy Schleck and then Fränk. Not my ideal podium, but not bad either.

I know I should have more to say about the stage. Because it was pretty fun to watch, because it was kind of awesome. But like the previous stages that have ended with Contador in yellow, it felt a bit like déjà vu. It was like this was supposed to happen this way – not that the race was fixed (because, come on, really?), but just that I felt that I’d been there, done that already. But whatever. What’s done is done and tomorrow on the ITT we’ll see just how good people are.

With luck, Wiggins’ll win. But it’s the Tour de France and almost anything can happen (and usually does).

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