Sooner or later it was going to happen and today four brave warriors took the bull by the horns, by staying almost the entire stage in front of the peloton and with that, a new change on GC. Here at the house we were rooting for Will Frishckorn, but to tell you the truth, any of the four deserved the stage, after a truly gutsy ride. Faillou was on a high today and almost pulled the double, by winning the stage and taking the yellow jersey, but the shortest rider in the Tour, Samuel Dumoulin was quickets to the line.
The question for me in the last 25kms was, why was Quickstep pulling?. Presumably they had itentions of pulling the break and setting the sprint for Gert Steegmans, but he himself was helping to drive the pace. Maybe it was because the crash with 22kms that set them off, but again, with no real GC aspiriations, and with the break long gone, Quickstep wasted energy on a fruitless chase.
Denis Menchov and Ricardo Ricco were caught behind the last crash of the day and had to set hot pace to limit the damage at the end. Again, Ricco's team hesitated to help Rabobank to chase back on to the leaders and their deficit went from 15 seconds to 30+ at the end. This could hurt Menchov's hunt for yellow.
The rest of the main contenders were attentive enough to stay near the front and Caisse de Espargne again did another superb job escorting Valverde through the wind and rain. Evans and Sastre are quietly within striking distance, but the real fight for GC will start tomorrow with the ITT. We'll see who is in for real.