Today war was declared on Lance Armstrong. Today Lance Armstrong cracked; He has lost the Tour. I expected this to happen, but not the way it did. Today the peloton made their way from Station des Rousses – Morzine-Avoriaz, 189 km. Most of the race was undulating, but nothing serious. Near the end of the race there were two climes: the Col de la Ramaz, and Morzine. Armstrong crashed before the Ramaz, and his team had to work hard to get him on the back of the peloton before the climb. They made it. But then Team Sky put on the pressure and Armstrong was dropped. On the Ramaz, after Sky faltered, Saxo Bank hit the front and kept an high temp pace. This split the field, and made for a select group of about 70 riders.
After cresting the Ramaz, there was a great descent, and Armstrong was expected to catch up: he didn’t. He lost time. Armstrong used to be a great descender. No more. Astana took charge on the descent (really just before the descent) and never looked back. Armstrong lost time on the descent and the Morzine. He lost 11 minutes. There was another minor crash before the Morzine, but Armstrong was not hurt at all. Still, it did take time. Lady luck has left Armstrong, but to be honest it is not the crashes that cost him the Tour. Armstrong is old and showed it. A younger Armstrong would have caught up to the heads of state (Contador, Schleck, Evans, and now Menchov) even with such luck. He did not catch up because he could not catch up. After 7 Tour wins, and a podium finish last year, Armstrong’s days as an elite cyclist are over.
With Armstrong dispatched, the heads of state kept a high pace. At 1km to go, Andy Schleck attacked! Contador tried to follow him, and could not. Schleck won the stage putting a few seconds between him and the rest of the riders. Evans is not in the Maillot Jaune (I love it when a prediction turns out right).
That Schleck put Contador into pressure means that Contador is beatable. It is an open question whether he will win his 3rd Tour. Evans looks good, but Schleck looks great. He has to be the favorite now.
There is a rest day tomorrow.