Mikel Astaroloza wins the Saint Bernard climb. Woof. Give the man an hour massage and a snifter of brandy. He must be doggone tired.
The same is true for the brothers Schleck who spent most of the climb laboring to distance Alberto Contador. One attack by Andy , then a surge from Frank, then Andy again. They split the lead group but never got rid of the Spanish rider in the yellow jersey.
When Lance Armstrong bridged up to them with an impressive display of power, all hope and motivation for the Luxembourg boys was gone. Just 30 kilometers downhill; back to the hotel and the drawing board.
The only way the Shlecks beat Contador is to physically combine forces using some up-dated Frankenstein biotechnology. One body with two hearts pumping twice the oxygenated blood. It’s possible manager Bjarne Riis has the operation set up for tonight. Don’t be shocked when only one Shleck signs in Wednesday at Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Sure tip-off: Riis shouting “It’s alive” outside the Saxo Bank bus.That would be Frankenandy Schleck and he’ll be scary good.
Bradley Wiggins continues to astound and defy expectations. Riding on Contador’s wheel, he even put in an acceleration in order to assess the condition of the leaders. He wore the relaxed expression of a man who expects to be on the podium.
There’s been much talk about whether Lance Armstrong will return next year. His out-of-the-saddle accelerations to regain the front group made it clear that physically he’s 95% back. And he’s on record saying he’ll get that high-end gear back with another 12 months training. And that is almost as scary as Frankenandy.
Tomorrow is another punishing day in the Alps. Don’t count out the Schlecks. But don’t count too closely: if the operation is a success, there may only be one.