Today was another gruesome stage. Vicious. They had the highest average speed of any stage...50k...and that included a category two climb! On the flats they were averaging 60k. Since Rabobank has scored zilch this who tour, they drove the pace trying to get Friere in position. The only problem was that even ol' Oscar was left hanging a bit on the climb because the team was working so hard to get him a win. Rabo assumed that if they went hard enough that the two sprinters would get dropped. All Rabo ended up accomplishing was a win for Columbia who didn't do any work at all until the end when they focused on getting the win for Cavendish. That's bike racing for you!
It's a shame that the fight for the green jersey is so animated, but so predictable since Cavendish does not have a chance to beat Hushovd. Mark is the fastest guy out there, but Thor is stronger. Today they both accepted the pain for the sake of their personal battle – neither of those guys would be denied! I have to say that Columbia rode beautifully today to put Cavendish where he needed to be.
But none of this talk really matters because tomorrow is the big daddy of them all – Mt. Ventoux. The only thing that the riders can do to prepare themselves for what's to come is to say their prayers and hope for the best. At this point it's all about courage and grit. Each rider has to accept that they will be suffering an abject amount of pain for at least an hour on Saturday. It's 22k of sheer, unspeakable, misery – and that's with good weather!
Anything can happen tomorrow. With it being the day before Paris, you can expect some of the big budget teams who haven't done anything in the last three weeks to make a play. Milram, Rabobank. Quick-Step, Lampre, Silence/Lotto – they've all got big price tags and yet they haven't made doodly-squat happen. For the riders, it's do or die. They know they have to sacrifice themselves to get to Paris, because dropping out is the surest way for them to go back to a bleak life of being poor and unrecognized.