Monday is a rest day for the Tour, which is a damn good thing. I think we all could use a rest; I am exhausted from just watching Stage 9, a painfest featuring four category-3 climbs, a category-2, and this year’s first category-1 climb, the Ballon d’Alsace.
I can only imagine how Mickael Rasmussen feels. In the most impressive individual performance of the 2005 Tour, the Dane who rides for Rabobank shot away from the peloton early and stayed away for the rest of the day, charging up the Ballon d’Alsace like a man possessed.
And “possessed” is the right word for it — in his post-race appearance Rasmussen had the haunted look of an undernourished marathoner. I hope that on the rest day he’ll sleep in and have an eight-course breakfast in bed served by a voluptuous, sex-starved farmgirl.
Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong ceded the yellow jersey after Stage 9 to Jens Voight, who finished three minutes and four seconds behind Rasmussen but far enough ahead of Armstrong and the peloton to take the overall lead. Apparently this was all according to Armstrong’s plan; and here we come to an aspect of Tour strategy that I’ve never entirely grasped.
The common wisdom is that the team with the yellow jersey has to work harder to keep their guy in the lead, and therefore that it’s to your advantage to give up the jersey for a while in the middle of the Tour. It’s never been quite clear to me why a strong team couldn’t dominate all the way through, but what do I know? I’m from Philadelphia.
I will be using the rest day to catch up on my email and play with the kittens. The riders will be using the rest day to… ride bikes, keeping themselves loose and ready. Tuesday the poor bastards will have the Alps to deal with. Stage 10 has two category-1 climbs, while Stage 11 features a category-1 and two HC (“hors categorie,” or as I prefer to call them, “holy crap”) climbs. What’s more, the long-promised rainstorm may finally materialize, adding that little extra bit of difficulty to the proceedings.
Enjoy your day off, guys… it’s still a long way to Paris.