The heat was the boss of the peloton today, stage 10, a French oven that stretched from Chambery to Gap.
The top contenders for overall victory decided to follow doctors orders and relax, drink plenty of water and let any breaks that want to go, go. This was a chill day after two particularly brutal days at Morzine and over the col de la Madeleine.
Everybody in the peloton had the same script: big boys take it easy, anyone who likes heat and humidity and has decent legs, take your shot. This is your slightly goopy crumb so take it.
It being Independence day in France, it was imperative that anyone with a French last name take the initiative. Thing was, the heat has taken its toll and even the French were too whupped to make a move that stuck.
That was left to Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Dries Devenyns (QuickStep), Sergio Paolinho (RadioShack) and Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne). They were not taking a siesta; they were racing bikes.
The honor of France itself was at stake so eventually two French riders, Maxime Bouet (Ag2r) and Pierre Rolland (Bbox) bridged up. If that hadn’t happened, president Nicolas Sarkozy would have cancelled tonight’s fireworks.
With Lance gone and Levi Leipheimer enjoying his mid-tempo day, it was Paolinho who put Radio Shack on the board. It was an fantastic sprint as the Portuguese rider forced Kiryienka to lead it out. What appeared to be an easy win almost became a disaster as Kiryienka suddenly got a 1000 watt energy surge, missing the win by centimeters.
The Alps are fini as are the chances for victory for Wiggins, Sastre and Evans. Now, the heat is on riders like Basso and Leipheimer. Is there any possible way they can challenge the superiority of Schleck and Contdor?