Basso’s cancer, Plateau de Beille balls.
It says something about the zero drama quality of stage 11, Pyrenean stage sans fireworks, that the biggest news story of the day was not Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka taking a big solo victory.
No, it was his teammate Ivan’s Basso’s successful operation to remove a cancerous testicle. Now Basso is well liked and a senior member of the peloton and Alberto Contador was in tears when he heard the terrible news but then again, dull stage huh?
While the rider quotes all said it was a hard stage from the gun, break slow to form and get away, it was also as close to an easy day as they’ve had in the Tour. Sadly, no day seems to be easy for defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali who again lost time.
Astana team manager Vinokourov thinks there is something wrong in the Shark’s brain — a variant of the Thibaut Pinot I’m-Just-Giving-Up mentality. Could be a viral thing sweeping the peloton. There is nothing wrong with Nibali’s testicles but we do think an examination of his legs is in order.
The day was largely an uneventful one for Chris Froome and Team Sky who managed the breakaway, rode their nasty tempo at the front and generally looked down their noses at the sad victims of yesterday’s Froome smackdown.
It was essentially Team Sky leading a group of cowered men licking their wounds, recovering from the psychological anguish and mental distress and resting up for another, more desperate shot at Froome in a much harder stage tomorrow.
Thus, a day made for a top climber with no GC hopes whatsoever.
That would be Majka and Cannondale-Garmin’s Dan Martin who seems to have box and timing issues. He was second on the Mur de Bretagne after being boxed in until too late, then today he had the legs to beat Majka but got a late start and couldn’t get a 2 minute gap closer than one minute. A true shame for a classy and exciting rider not afraid to attack. Please move up Martin’s watch by 5 minutes so he gets it right the next time.
And so we wait until the monster stage, number 12, Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille. 195 kilometers of lactic acid. Torture du Jour: the 2nd category Col de Portet d’Aspet, 4.3km long, 9.7 per cent average gradient, then 1st category Col de la Core and Port de Lers and finally, most already dead and buried, the hors-catègorie climb to Plateau de Beille.
Chris Froome is excited about stage 12 but we’re not sure anybody else is that amped up. Another beat-down and the Alps will be a scenic afterthought with no bearing on the maillot jaune or even second and third place.
Tomorrow nobody will be talking about Ivan Basso’s testicular cancer. No, the conversation will focus on who has the balls to attack Froome.