There was lots more fallout from the Incident of the Chain today. Andy Schleck seemed in no mood to accept Alberto Contador’s apology, reiterating that “I would not have attacked in that situation.” Lance Armstrong weighed in, saying that he didn’t blame Contador for attacking, but there was no way Contador didn’t know immediately that Schleck’s problem was mechanical rather than physical. I was trying to give Contador the benefit of the doubt there, but Lance knows a lot more about it than I do.
Announcer Paul Sherwen agreed with Lance, and he got into a surprisingly heated disagreement with his partner Phil Liggett, who defended Contador. Normally those two guys are in complete accord about everything. At one point Sherwen even brought up the fact that Liggett had never ridden in the Tour, which was a low blow if you ask me. Friendships are being tested all around; supposedly Contador and Schleck had been friends up to this point, and even once vacationed together. I don’t think that well be happening again anytime soon.
Once the day’s racing got underway, Old Man Armstrong got himself in the nine-man breakaway to take a shot at the stage win. He didn’t have the speed at the finish, though, and ended up coming in 6th behind Pierrick Fedrigo. Just the latest disappointment in a Tour of disappointments for Lance. I’m not shedding any tears for him, though; he’s still won 7 of the 13 Tours he’s participated in, which is not a bad batting average.
Meanwhile, back in the peloton, Schleck and Contador rode close together in what appeared to be awkward silence. I guess this was not the day Schleck was referring to when he said he’d get his revenge on the Tourmalet, because he made no attempt to attack. The Tour will make the same climb from the opposite direction in Stage 17, and it will have to be then that Schleck goes for it. He can’t afford to go into the time trial behind or even close to Contador.
The Col de Tourmalet, at 2115 meters, is an “hors category” or “beyond category” climb. I’ve always found that designation amusing; I picture a group of Frenchman going along categorizing climbs, getting to these big ones, then throwing up their hands and surrendering. “Mon Dieu! Zere is no category for zis! Let’s go to ze café!”
Ah, France. I kid, but I love. Hey, look at you – you’ve got 5 stage wins this year! Vous avez à vous aimer pour cela.