Surprising result

The alarm went off at 06:00 this morning. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was not. My beloved turned off the alarm and went back to sleep. I, on the other hand, never even heard it. We awoke two hours later, too late to attempt the concentration at Venanson. Instead, we decided on one of our favourite summer rides which takes in the perched village of Gourdon, home to the baker of my favourite pain d’epice.

Today was just as hot as the previous one but there was a cool, rather than warm, breeze which was deliciously refreshing on the run in to home. We had picked up the newspapers on the way back and, once home, I had a cold shower and slipped into something cool and flimsy. I fed my beloved and settled down to watch stage 14: 184.5km from Revel to Ax-3 Domaines. The showdown in the Pyrenees was about to begin.

I was expecting things to kick off on the Port de Pailheres. Astana took control on the ascent and their pace shattered the peloton while leaving the contenders together. The remnants of the day’s breakaway were still up the road and a number of riders, including Carlos Sastre, had set off in hot pursuit.

A rider who lives locally, Amael Moinard, was one of two riders still up ahead from that morning’s breakaway but he’d been distanced by the other, Christophe Riblon, probably better known for his exploits on the track. Riblon hung on to give the French their 4th stage win. Meanwhile, Alberto and Andy were eyeballing one another, but neither was prepared to concede. Sensing a stalemate, both Sammy Sanchez and Denis Menchov decided to profit from the stalemate.  They gained 13 seconds. Roll on tomorrow.

Whole lotta winners

 I love it when someone unexpected wins. Today it was the turn of Brice Feillu, a neo-pro with Agritubel, whose older brother Romain wore yellow for a day in last year’s Tour. He was part of today’s break away and seized his chance – chapeau.

It was lovely to see the brothers united after the podium ceremony. Brice, the taller of the two, in the polka dotted jersey (yes, he won that as well) embracing his sibling who was unashamedly overcome with joy at his kid brother’s success.

 Cancellara has graced the yellow jersey all week but he knew his time was up. Most reckoned that Astana would seize yellow. Not so, another rider taking part in his first Tour captured the prized jersey. Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R, one more from the break away artists, became the first Italian in yellow for nine years. Christophe Riblon, also from AG2R, won the “most combative”. It was another good day for the French, and the French teams.

Contador wisely followed the advice of Bernard Hinault and attacked with under 2km to go. I met “The Badger” at the week end, a charming, slightly built, gentleman with a steely glint in his eye. I suspect you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. Alberto shifted into a higher gear and soared away, as only he can, putting 21seconds into Lance. It’s far too early to say game over but Bert has picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Lance on Monday.