Wednesday, July 21, 2010


It was a quiet day in the resort town of Pau.  Well, sort of.

No, the Tour de France didn't roll, but was that thunder we heard approaching from the distance of tomorrow?

Yes, the riders trained and tested and gave media interviews. but there must have been a pensive anticipation of Thursday: the last day in the mountains, an unprecedented second climb up a steeper pass of Tourmalet, and the question of whether, when and how second-place Andy Schleck would erase his 8-second deficit to Alberto Contador.

Thursday's stage 17 will likely determine the winner of this year's edition of the Tour de France.  If Contador and Schleck finish the day together, then Contador will have it all but sewn up.  But if Schleck bests Contador by 30 seconds or more on the Tourmalet, the scales tip toward the Luxembourger.  The wild cards Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez could pull an upset on the day, but they would have to finish at least 2 minutes ahead of either Contador or Schleck to move up to second or first place.

So, watch and listen for a storm on the mountain on Thursday. And may the best man win.

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