Wow. Stage 9 of the Tour had a little of everything; eight categorized climbs (some of those Cat 2s were pretty tough), a powerful breakaway destined to succeed, horrible crashes which took out several contenders and injured others, and a TV car running riders off the road, changing the results of the race. If you missed it, go back and watch. Wow.
Today's break was not five guys out to get TV time for their teams, they knew they had a chance, and they rode like it. Chasing behind the peloton had a number of horrible crashes, and Dave Zabriske, Alexander Vinokourov, and Jurgen van den Broeck were forced to retire. With the finish in sight a TV car swerved into the five-man breakaway, hitting Juan Antonio Flecha and knocking him to the deck, and causing him to crash into Johnny Hoogerland who somersaulted into a barbed wire fence. This enabled Luis-Leon Sanchez and Thomas Voeckler to escape, with Sanchez ultimately winning the stage but putting Voeckler solidly in Yellow, two minutes ahead of the GC contenders.
With a rest day tomorrow that leaves the GC at Voeckler in yellow, Sanchez (1:49), Cadel Evans (2:26), Frank Schleck (2:29), and Andy Schleck (2:37). Other contenders include Andreas Kloden (2:32), Ivan Basso (3:36), Robert Gesink (4:01), and Alberto Contador (4:07). You could have won money betting that Contador would be in 16th that far back after week one. After the rest day there are a couple of days for the sprinters - 5 hours of touring followed by 5 minutes of racing - and then Thursday (ta da!) we go into the Pyrenees, with stage 12 featuring a Cat 1 and two HCs. Yay. Stay tuned!