For the first time in the 99 year tour history this stage took us up an insignificant sounding La Planche des Belles Filles (which is a named after a plank and some solders and some virgins or something) in the area of Great Nancy. A ski resort in winter, it certainly proved its worth as an interesting Tour destination this year. Although the climbs along the stage were only rated a modest category 3, and this was rated a transition stage to the “tougher” climbs of the Alps, the steep finish cat 1 climb after 199km of riding did the intended and forced those who were making a play for the GC to show their hand – or at least part of it.
Although you can be sure the teams with GC contenders checked it out before yesterday’s stage, they won’t have known how their competitors would fare on the challenging inclines. Christopher Froome kept pace for Wiggins till Cadel made his move, and although it appeared that Froome had done his all to prepare the stage for Wiggo to go it – mano-a-mano against Cowdel, he instead found the legs to make the stage his own. My read of it was that Cadel was waiting for Wiggins to go and was a bit surprised when he didn’t, but then corrected himself to not exert more energy trying to win the stage (which he doesn’t need to do right now), leaving Wiggins in yellow. There’s no doubt Sky had a great stage, but we may have to start watching out for Froome rather than Wiggins in the GC.