...AND ON THE NINTH DAY THEY RESTED. The Tour de France riders get two rest days in three weeks of intense racing. Today is the first, coming after 9 days of racing that ended with two difficult Alp mountain stages. Next Tuesday will be the second rest day, coming amid the steeper climbs of the Pyrenees in southwestern France.
WHAT TO DO ON REST DAY? What do riders do on rest days? They ride, for one thing. Each team will spend several hours in the saddle, just to keep in condition and rythmn. They'll visit with friends and family. Teams will hold press conferences. And they'll rest and sleep. The extra 24 hours is a brief respite to gather one's strength and wits for the rest of the Alps and Pyrenees over the next 8 days.
REFINING PREDICTIONS. Of course, rest day means fans and experts alike will be refining their predictions and figuring out what their respective favorite must do to make onto the podium in Paris. Like we haven't seen in recent years, this Tour seems to be wide open to the most wisely aggressive rider. I don't think this one will be won by playing conservative. Nor do I think it will be won by a rider who spends himself before the last Pyrenean stage. It's up for grabs. We'll see who grabs it.