Tough stage today. Cat 4 followed by Cat 3, Cat 2, Cat 1, Cat 1, Cat1. That type of ride is also known as a weight loss plan. There wasn’t much of a peloton. It was shattered early on. It was hard to keep track of all the different groups of riders. Rabobank controlled the ‘main’ peloton for a lot of the climb. This would prove important as this was a nice setup for Rasmussen. The main breakaway group early on contained some decent riders but nothing that threatening. Hincapie, Rogers, Voigt, etc. About 15 in all.
Rasmussen eventually attacks off the front of the peloton and reaches the breakaway group. He then just whittles away everyone. One by one they drop off the back. A second breakaway of Mayo, Evans, Moreau, Schleck, Popo, and Valverde (among others) also peels off from the peloton.
The peloton, if you can call it that, had a lot of contenders – Vino, Kloden, Karpets, Leip, Menchov, Sastre.
So Rasmussen takes the stage easily. Then Mayo, Valverde, Moreau, Schleck, Evans…
So the big question is, “who’s the favorite to win GC?” I’ll be honest. I don’t have a clue. Leip, Vino, Kloden, etc. don’t look like contenders on a day like today. They didn’t do poorly but they didn’t ride like leaders. But they could be saving themselves. They didn’t look particularly strained. Valverde looks pretty good here.
Mountains on Tuesday but a downhill finish. Expect the time trial and Pyrenees to decide this one.
Oh and McEwen failed to make the max time on Stage 8. He is eliminated. Bad day for the aussies. O'Grady and Rogers also out.