Today a big mountain stage which as always, provides us with the most thrilling spectacle in all of sport. The riders slow down enough so that you can see all the cracks of effort and pain in their faces up close. That’s why so many people flock to the mountains for days and hours on end - to bear witness to the suffering and medieval levels of torture firsthand. All the marbles are on the table today and there is no hiding – all are exposed.
When you can’t keep pace with the leaders on a stage like today it is instantaneously obvious and in front of the world stage your whole career can be defined and put on the line. How’s that for pressure? The mountains expose any weakness you might have and conversely provide a backdrop for the strongest to prove their heroics.
Today Valverde has exposed a weakness that will affect him for the rest of the Tour – a high mountain allergen. I think what separates those who perform from those who don’t is just a matter of courage. Good fortune favors the brave.
Cadel Evans is taking a huge leap forward in winning the 2008 Tour de France. After an incredibly rough tumble yesterday that left him visibly shaken, he has returned with a vengeance and his performance is exposing his true strengths and his role as a fearsome adversary all the way to Paris. Look at him launch like a savage with Vandevelde on his wheel. Hats off to Cadel. Not only as bike racer, but as campaigner for a free Tibet.
Bobke’s Inside Line: Without the mountains the Tour de France would be just another bike race. With them it is the supreme sporting event in the world. Tomorrow is finally a rest day and I plan to get thoroughly pickled with the Brits before I get off this mountain! I was also thinking of a good name for a new punk band – how about “The Mexican Proletariat”? Our motto could be “taking over the world by eating one fascist at a time!”