Alpe D'Huez. There are few mountains that inspire excitement in a cycling fan like L'Alpe. It may not inspire fear like other riders, but the 21 hair pin turns are not only a path to victory...they are a path to glory for any rider who is first to the top.
Spoiler alert: The winner of todays stage is revealed after the break.
As I write this post I am watching American TeeJay Van Garderen hitting a wall with 3.6 km to go. He is clinging to a 20 meter lead ahead of the Frenchman Christophe Riblon. This is the worst possible scenario for TJVG, breaking down just before the road levels off with the pride of the nation at your wheels. There is no bigger victory for a French cyclist than to win on the slopes of Alpe D'Huez and it inspires strength that other countries riders simply can't understand.
It appears that today will be the celebration France was hoping for on Bastille day just a few days earlier. Riblon has passed Van Garderen and found yet another gear as he does so. TeeJay's dreams have faded as he watches the AG2R rider ride off to victory. Riblon knows now, you can see it on his face. A look back over his right shoulder with teeth gritted as he reaches the final 500 meters where the road levels off. He makes the famous right hand turn and is celebrating already. A fantastic performance and French cycling fans are crying tears of joy. Chapeau Christophe!
Behind him there is drama galore. Froome has cracked and given back nearly a minute to Quintana and Rodriguez. Contador has done even worse. There will be big changes in the GC tonight. Nairo will most likely take a podium spot, but will it be third or second? J Rod will crack the top 5 and Bauke Mollema may have dropped out.
I'll be back with a full recap tonight. What a great day of racing.