OK. So the mountains have finally revealed the true contenders for the Tour. Kudos to Michael Rasmussen for a cracking ride, but props as well to Christophe Moreau for attacking the favorites over and over on the final climb to Tignes. But, for me the biggest news is that the Cormet de Roselend has claimed more victims.
It's a bit of a personal thing between me and the Cormet. The descent of its east side is a 4,000-foot, twisty, technical affair with many treacherous hairpins. Years ago, I almost came to grief on one of its "lancets", as the French call them when the road narrowed abruptly and veered sharply to the left. I could lie and tell you that my awesome downhill prowess saved my butt, but in reality it was plain old luck. While he was still a rider, current Discovery Channel Team Director Johan Bruyneel crashed heavily in exactly the same spot going over the side and down the embankment. Today, that turn claimed two more victims.
Aussie and Team T-Mobile rider Michael Rogers came to grief on the Cormet. What makes the crash even more ironic is that he was in the lead breakaway at the time. As the designated team leader for T-Mobile, this was the first major move of the Tour and his move should have been rewarded for its aggressiveness. Instead, the Tour is over for the three-time World Time Trial Champion. What a turn of fortunes for Team T-Mobile. One day you have a stage win, the team prize and the yellow jersey. The next day, your team leader is heading home.
Fellow Aussie, Stuart O'Grady came a cropper on the Cormet as well. It's been a rough Tour for the gritty Team CSC rider. His win this spring in Paris-Roubaix was the highlight of his career. Now he, like Michael Rogers, must deal with the lowest of lows in cycling: leaving the Tour de France.