The Tour de France got its first dose of mountain excitement in Stage 7 today, setting the stage for a dramatic Stage 8 tomorrow and the first Category 1 climb in this year’s Tour.
As expected, Fabian Cancellara relinquished the yellow jersey under the repeated mountain attacks, especially the final Category 2 climb to the cross-country ski station of Les Rousses.
France’s home-country favorite, Sylvain Chavanel, who briefly held the yellow jersey before a disastrous bad-luck (three flats) run across the cobblestones of Belgium, broke away on the last climb and pounded the pavement up, up and up. A bit of a surprise was the challenge from a relative youngster, Spaniard Rafael Valls Ferri, who gave Chavanel a run before the Frenchman put on the jets toward the end of the climb.
As strong as he’s looking, Chavanel is not considered a potential Tour winner, so the big names of the Tour — including our man Andy Schleck, the King Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans — laid back in the peloton without giving chase.
Tomorrow should be different. We’re looking forward to the fireworks!