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Posted by MDugard on Jul 10, 2006 12:13:56 PM

A man 5,000 miles from home shouldn't wake up on a Sunday morning and have his first thoughts be about Levi Leiphemer's mental condition, but I did. His horrid (a fine Roald Dahl expression to convey the woes of that man-child) ride yesterday leaves him far out of contention, forced to spend the next two weeks taking enormous competitive risks if he wants to get a spot on the podium, let alone win this thing. What happened to him? His team makes it clear there were no mechanical issues. It's a sign of the times: I find myself wondering whether Serhiy Honchar has been doping. This isn't to take away from his accomplishment in the least, and there's been absolutely no talk about such a thing. But to not wander down that avenue when a 36-year-old rider facing the end of his career suddenly rides better than he has since 2000 would be folly. Spent last night in Rennes, scene of yesterday's finish. The city is having an enormous open-air arts festival, and after dinner (a salad whose name I did not write down, but featuring a dijon mustard dress, foie gras, slices of cured ham, and baked potatoes. Very, very good. Also, a nice red). I just kind of wandered the streets to take it all in. My favorite guy was the guy juggling fiery batons while balancing on a six-foot-tall unicycle. He was very good and drew a large crowd. When all was said and done, I noticed that he had no hair on his face or head and a sort of perpetual sunburn. That's a tough way to earn a paycheck. Heading straight for the finish in Lorient. It's on the ocean, and is sure to be a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. The race begins at 12:25 and ends at 5 pm. It's 112 hilly miles from Saint-Meen-le-Grand to the finish. Then, of course, all of France will find a place to watch the World Cup final between France and Italy. Allez les Bleus.

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