Saturday, July 09, 2011

July 9, Stage 8: Aigurande - Super-Besse Sancy 190 km

Today's stage was not quite as dramatic as previous stages, which, to be honest, was a relief. I wasn't looking forward to crashes and it was nice that there weren't any massive pile ups. What did happen was pretty interesting and kind of exciting. I do like a good mountain stage, like everyone else. I don't have the same animosity toward flat stages as other people do (or those who wish crashes to make things exciting), but you can't deny the excitement of the mountains, even when they're not the massive ones we don't get until later in the tour.

Yesterday I totally predicted that Thor would lose the yellow, especially if Garmin wasn't really up to the task. Turns out that I was totally wrong. Garmin was strong (ish) and at the end of the stage, Thor was in yellow. I did not expect that at all. In fact, when Vino attacked (lulz) I totally expected him to ride home with yellow. I know that people, including myself, have a lot of opinions about Vino. I mean, it's hard to like the guy after he totally refused to admit that he doped. And, of course, he comes back and he's almost as strong as before his ban, so of course people are going to hate him (we won't talk about why I think that's hilarious when people like other folks who do similar things, but that's not a topic for here). I really did think he'd be able to take it and was prepared for the onslaught of anger (which requires me to bring popcorn for amusement). But, in the end, he just wasn't strong enough or everyone else was stronger (or both).

I was really happy to see Movistar win. As much as I wanted the amusement of Vino in yellow, it was totally worth it to see Rui Costa's win and celebration. I don't know if it was in memory of Xavier Tondo or not, but I like to think it was. I also like that the breakaway rider was the last man standing at the end. What kind of shocked me was how quickly Vino disappeared from the race and how easily he was swallowed up by the peloton. But then came the action -- the real action. I suppose Vino was never going to get yellow because Thor was just so freaking strong. I really didn't expect that, but there he was. And then there was Philippe Gilbert! I mean, that man is on fire. I guess he's taking the Sylvain roll this Tour. He's just storming and fighting and battling.

Speaking of Gilbert, though. That man and his team are totally at odds with Andre Greipel. I can't say that I'm very surprised, to be honest. That was always going to happen when you have teams that are too top heavy. and that's totally what's going on with Lotto. Which is why Phil seems to be going after the green jersey with a vengeance, leaving everyone else, including his teammate, in his wake. Not really something I like, but I don't know how much is up to Gilbert and how much is up to Lotto. It's hard to tell and we'll probably never know.

As for Sylvain? He's suffering. Apparently he felt okay at the beginning of the stage and then not so much toward the end, which is totally understandable. I was also glad to see that Chris Horner was not allowed to race again this Tour. I hope his head heals up and he has no lasting damage.

Tomorrow consists of more mountains. I'm really excited about this stage, hopefully it'll be good and we'll have more excitement on the mountains. I don't know who'll win, just that it probably won't be Sylvain. Again I'm going to predict that Thor won't have the yellow when the stage finishes because, at the end of the day, he's a sprinter and not a climber. It's also the last day before the rest day, so we might see some people just pushing it to see how the cards fall. I really hope it'll be awesome.

As an aside, if this doesn't make much sense, it's because I've been writing this while watching this Giant Bomb video.

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