Welcome to live coverage of Stage 9 of the Tour de France!
Stage 9: Gérardmer-Mulhouse, 170 km
Jesus, about a million things have happened already today... so even though this is the first real mountain stage of this edition of the Tour, and we could go on about that first, let's just get into it.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros) has crashed out of the Tour early in the stage... his hip was injured. Teammate Contador was also felled - nasty gash on arm, he'll survive though.
Dave Zabriskie (CSC) pulled off after getting dropped by the peloton in the first ten kilometers. He finally gave up after struggling in just inside the cutoff time yesterday. Sad day for the first wearer of the Yellow Jersey in this Tour.
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) also crashed on a climb and banged up his knee, but he is riding in the Yellow Jersey group right now.
"The Chicken" Michael Rasmussen flew the coop early on, consolidating his polka dot lead - he charged off the front on the first climb to take maximum points, and just kept going. Dario Cioni (Liquigas) is with him now, and the two riders have over 4' on the peloton. Nice to see an honorary Brit up there.
Actually, on the climb up the Cat 2 Le Grand Ballon, Rasmussen and Cioni are now over 7' in front of the peloton, which is led by the Discovery Channel boys.
Jens Voigt, second overall, is one of the six riders in between the duo in front and the pack. The six are: Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole), Jens Voigt (CSC), Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears), Alexandre Moos (Phonak), Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros) and Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi). A motley crew.
Lance said at the beginning of the race that Discovery doesn't intend to try to defend the Yellow Jersey today. That's why they don't care that Voigt is charging away... they want him to take the Yellow, as it will give the Disco boys a chance to relax and take a back seat for a while.
Jan Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole) has just abandoned the race... not surprising, he's never made it through the mountains before in this race.
115km to go - Rasmussen and Cioni are churning up the Grand Ballon in tandem, with the Dane's team car for company. On front of the peloton is Benjamin Noval and Pavel "the Gavel" Padrnos of Discovery. They aren't really setting a high pace.
Vicioso is really struggling trying to keep up with the Voigt group on Le Grand Ballon. In the chasing group, Moreau pushes things and Vicioso has to dig deep to stay in there. It looks like the Liberty Seguros man is going to be distanced soon. Okay, so the peloton is actually strung out a bit, so they aren't exactly lolligagging out there.
The crowds are quite big on this Cat 2 climb, cheering on the lead duo at 7' 50" ahead of the peloton.
Alexandre "Bullwinkle" Moos is a good climber and is riding strong in this group. His team leaders Botero and Landis both gave it a go early on in the stage, going on the attack before getting pulled back into the peloton. The sextet are 3'00" down on the two climbers in front.
1355 CEST - 1km to the top of the Grand Ballon for Rasmussen and Cioni, and the crowds are growing denser and denser as they near the summit. Meanwhile, four kilometres down the climb, the tail of the peloton is riding laboriously - Thomas Voeckler is visible at the back, in stark contrast to his plucky riding last year, where he held onto the maillot jaune for ten days, through the Pyrenees. I don't think we'll be seeing him up there ever again.
107 km left. So there's a lot of racing to come. Rasmussen is really building a lead in the Polka Dot Jersey competition. He's taken maximum points again over Le Grand Ballon. Both he and Cioni pause to zip up their jerseys or take in some water.
Lots of campers, tents and cars line the sides of the roads near the top of the climb. Lots of fans enjoying their holiday camping out and cheering on the bike race and drinking lots of, um, liquids. Very enthusiastic crowds, but thankfully no speedo- or thong-wearing people with clown noses chasing the riders up the hill today. Maybe the half-naked clowns are on the final climb of the day, the Cat 1 Ballon d'Alsace.
Don't speak too soon Locutus - these nutters are everywhere. There was a person mooning the riders on one of the Cat 3 climbs, another was running with no pants up another of them...
1400 CEST - The lead of Rasmussen and Cioni is 8' 01" over the peloton.
Well, Backstedt (Liquigas-Bianchi) has not been able to haul his oversized, meat-filled body over this climb very well (the peloton is still on Le Grand Ballon). Backstedt has joined a large number of people now being shed from the peloton. They'll likely catch back on somewhere on the descent.
So where does Rasmussen's "the Chicken" nickname come from? I like it...
I'm guessing it doesn't come from an alcohol-fuelled game of truth or dare in which Rasmussen opted out of some risqué dare - probably due to his stick insect physique. that's as near as I can think of it logically.... "the Chicken." Another theory is because he always "runs" from the peloton... or perhaps because of his skinny legs...
1405 CEST - 98km to go - Rasmussen and Cioni lead the Voigt/Moreau group by 2'26", and the Discovery-marshalled bunch by 7'49".
1413 CEST - Rasmussen is still flying, his carbon fiber composite bones helping him glide up and down the climbs (the fact that he weighs about as much as his bike helps too). Not a big meaty guy like Backstedt, that Rasmussen. There's a cannibal joke in there somewhere, but it's too early in the morning for me to find it.
Rasmussen and Cioni have 88 kilometres to go - both are former mountain bike world champs and are working well together. Their lead is now 7'50''. The gap between the two breakaway groups is holding pretty steady: it's 2'26".
Speaking of big meaty Scandinavians, Hushovd is still holding on to the back of the peloton as they descend Le Grand Ballon.
Toujour le blue train at the front of the peloton, with T-Mobile tucked in behind them. Lots of mind games at the front of that peloton... Unlike yesterday when they sent Hincapie out to mark down Voigt, today they have let the flying German go - possibly they don't consider him or Moreau a major threat to the GC and are more concerned by the massed T-Mobile ranks behind - not to mention the other CSC riders - Basso and Julich. Sastre also is gunning for a top 10 placing.
1421 CEST - 84 km to go - the gap back up to 8'20''. My favorite part of any day on the bike: the feed zone. The break rides on, munching away at the energy bars and gels and sweet snacks. Manna from heaven when you've got so far to go still.
Through the intermediate sprint - Cioni ahead of Rasmussen. Rasmussen continues to secure his Mountains jersey and will be pleased with his day in the saddle.
Moreau is of course the local lad, from nearby Belfort, so he is highly motivated, and he is looking very strong in this Tour so far. Voigt just looks strong, period.
Voigt comes to the front of the break to take third and two seconds bonus - that puts him nearer to Armstrong. Indeed, every second counts, as some American once said...
1430 CEST - Hmm... the peloton has slowed down in the feed zone, the riders getting a bit chaotic. Oh no, a crash. Commesso (Lampre) is back on his bike but a Saunier Duval-Prodir rider has gone down... looks like it might be a collarbone injury. It's Gomez - the Saunier Duval man is writhing in pain, his legs flailing a bit. It looks painful.
Ah the young mountain climber has had a wretched tour he has already crashed twice. Commesso working hard behind the Liquigas car to get back on.
Gomez himself is a pretty handy climber, the best ranked neo-pro of the year last year. He took second on Ventoux in the Dauphiné. Such a sad sight to see, this Tour rookie hugging his directeur, choking back the tears.
Col de Bussang - for the two leaders but Cioni is in trouble. Rasmussen attacks Cioni - who says Chickens can't fly? Cioni cannot follow the wheels of Rasmussen. Looks like it wasn't an intentional attack... Rasmussen sits up to wait for Cioni now. Meanwhile, Moreau leads the chase, mouth open to catch the bugs as usual... but his trademark, tongue-out riding style has yet to emerge.
Commesso hanging on the doctor's car, and Gomez is out of the race. That's really hard luck.
Well, now Rasmussen looks to have left Cioni for good. Back in the pack, Padrnos sets the pace still, not caring about Rasmussen at all. The peloton now strung out and...toujours le blue train at the front, they will have to lift the pace if they want to catch Voight today. 74 km left.
Wow, McEwen's Aussie Champ Jersey can be seen riding right behind Armstrong's Yellow Jersey in the peloton. Somehow, I don't think that Robbie will still be on Lance's wheel by the top of the Cat 1 climb.
1437 CEST - Moreau, Zandio, Moos, Landaluze and Voigt still working well together. Rasmussen heading to the last climb of the day; he has 8'44'' on the peloton, the biggest gap so far. Cancellara has a mechanical. He's back riding again, off the back of the peloton.
Ullrich and Vinokourov are right behind Lance in the peloton. Then right behind Ullrich, Chris Horner is smiling, having an animated chat with his fellow American Levi Leipheimer. Horner is clearly relishing his first ever Tour de France.
Horner of course has raced against Armstrong for years... they are virtually the same age, and have been going at it for more than a dozen years on the domestic American scene. Not at all an unfamiliar sight for American racing fans was the image of Horner sitting on Lance's wheel up the final climb yesterday.
Cancellara manages to get back on to the peloton.
Zandio and Voigt find themselves on a flagging Vicioso's wheel and have to sprint round to try to get back in contact with Moos, Moreau and Landaluze.
1443 CEST - 70 km to go - Rasmussen still eating up the mountain points, Cioni in difficulties now. 58 points for Rasmussen in the KoM competition.
Cioni at 1' 04", the Moreau/Voigt group at 3' 20", peloton at just over 9'. Hushovd is looking rather lonely, off the back of the peloton on the Bussang. He actually has his parents following him in a camper van as part of their holiday; sometimes his mother cooks for him.
I hope there aren't any bullies in the peloton... then again, I certainly wouldn't call Hushovd "mamma's boy" to his face. Mmmm... Norwegian home-cooked cuisine. Probably lots of salt and fish.
Nah, just salt. (Salt and vodka, not too much salt.)
Bernhard Eisel showing the scars of his earlier crash, which saw Contador and Galdeano fall too, and Igor retire.
The two Sebastiens - Hinault and Joly - have dropped back to give teammate Hushovd some company.
The saltiest food I've ever eaten was a homecooked, fresh-caught sea bass with a Norwegian family. Good, but man... more salt than I was used to. I wanted it baked up with some garlic and butter... no such luck... (I caught it in their boat when we were fishing in a fjord).
Well, Rasmussen is about to start climbing the Ballon d'Alsace, the Tour's first Cat 1 climb. It's 100 years since the riders first got a taste of this nasty blighter and, while comparatively short at 9.1km, the average is 6.8%. The riders are thankful that they don't have to ride up this on a single-gear bike like the Tour riders of old.
Personally, if I didn't have a 39x28 on my bike I'd never ride it anywhere, except maybe Holland. Rene Poittier was the first man over this climb; there is a monument at the top in tribute to his feat.
Vicioso is still hanging tough in the chasing group - he's looked by far the weakest rider, but is showing quite some resilience in staying in touch with his five companions.
The first KoM was actually calculated in 1933 - and Rasmussen is riding in the shadow of Vicente Trueba, who was the first to reach the top of the Ballon d'Alsace, Galibier, Peyresourde, Vars and Tourmalet. The first official winner of the KoM, however, was Rene Vietto in 1934.
1455 CEST - In case you're wondering, Rasmussen is in 68th on GC at 7' 05" behind Armstrong. That puts him 6' 05" behind Voigt, who is looking like he'll be in yellow by the end of the stage. Voigt wore the yellow jersey in 2001, while also winning the stage to Sarran that year.
Wow, those are some monsters to climb.
The polka dot shirt was not introduced until 1975 - a question for the reader: why is it red and white polka dots?
61 km to go, 9'33'' for Rasmussen. The amazing thing about Rasmussen's climb today is that the 6 chasers have made no impression on his lead.
1459 CEST - Now the peloton hits the start of the climb. Rasmussen could end up riding very high in the GC standings for quite a while if he holds onto much of this gap. Tomorrow is a rest day, so Rasmussen will get to recuperate from his efforts a bit before the next climbs.
Hushvod pedalling square wheels now - in big trouble on the climb.
60 k to go - the polka dot powers on. Moreau and Voigt still forcing the pace of the escapees, Hushovd wishing he could run up a sail like his viking ship ancestors to help him get where he's going. No such luck, Thor!
McEwen now falls off the pace in the peloton, accompanied by fellow sprinter Eisel and former King of the Mountains (when the Tour was rather in the molehills) Kroon. Chechu Rubiera is now setting the pace for Discovery at the front of the pack.
Padrnos has been dropped. Looks like Zandio, Moos and Landaluze have fallen off the pace... can't confirm that yet, though. Padrnos is right near Green Jersey Boonen, in a rapidly-forming group off the back of the peloton. Suffering time for the other sprinters... Boonen surrounded by his Quick Step team.
Manuel 'Triki' Beltran is second wheel behind his compatriot. "The Punisher" Rubiera is doing some damage with his pace. So far, just the big flatlanders are suffering, but the pace has definitely quickened.
And yes, Voigt, Moreau and that man Vicioso have split the chasing group.
57 km to go - 9'48'' the gap. I've just noticed something too, something quite quaint. Voigt has a saddlebag on his bike. Do you guys know if that's common or not? Seems like something more used by cyclo-tourists than pros.
Er, it's his power crank thingy, I think. Pros usually use such things on training rides, but not in races...
Rasmussen just floating up this climb like he's had a helium enema. Vicioso is dropped by Moreau and Voigt. He'll have to try to catch back on during the long descent to the finish.
The two big men are having a great day - they will catch Cioni who is nearly stopped. Cioni cannot catch their wheel, and will suffer all the way home. Rasmussen really riding like the King of the Mountains... taking points, but also trying to take the stage.
Crazy legions of fans cheer Rasmussen up to the top. Rasmussen is 9'26" up on the peloton! And more than four minutes ahead of Voigt and Moreau.
Wow, this is an enormous crowd! Just phenomenal. Rasmussen is giving an epic performance - the Great Dane has taken the KoM points. Meanwhile, Zandio is caught; Moos was also reeled in a few minutes ago.
So will anyone attack the Discovery train on these slopes?
Rasmussen would have to take another couple of minutes from Voigt to get Yellow, which isn't likely now that the climbs are over. 56km of downhill and flats to the finish. Rasmussen will just try to hold on for the stage now, not really worrying about yellow.
In contrast to yesterday, there are still 5 Discovery men in close quarters to Armstrong: Rubiera, Beltran and Hincapie are in front of him, with Azevedo and Savoldelli looking at his rear.
Rubiera's pace has blown Spanish Champ (and good climber) Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir) out the back of the pack. Some quality climbers are being shed now!
1515 CEST - Moreau and Voigt are 4'20 behind Rasmussen at the top of the climb. They're both good time-trialists, but it would take some effort to catch Rasmussen by the finish. Still no attacks in the peloton.
Voeckler and yesterday's winner Weening are just off the back of the pack, alongside Moncoutié and Pineau.
The Discovery team has upped the pace to avoid being attacked.
Hincapie is comfortably in front of Armstrong. That George has really become something of a climber over the years. They certainly seem to prefer longer and steeper climbs where they can whip up the speed before keeping the rhythm steady.
That's true - Hincapie seems to get better with age, like a Chardonnay. Ditto for Voigt actually, who has kept with Moreau.
Rasmussen now has cemented his lead in the King of the Mountains standings with 88 points. Some way back in second, with 40, is Christophe Moreau. Third is Jens Voigt on 37. Popovych, his bobbing style is second in line, Hincapie ahead of Armstrong, but the peloton is thinning out quickly.
Rasmussen is flying down the hill like, well, like a rabid chicken, perhaps? While 9'24'' back, the Discovery Channel lead the peloton over the top of the climb. Hincapie moves to the front to lead the charge down the hill.
Savoldelli is right behind Hincapie... he knows a bit about descending as well. The peloton has been whittled down an awful lot on that climb.
Savoldelli is right behind Hincapie... he knows a bit about descending as well. The peloton has been whittled down an awful lot on that climb.
Rasmussen's attack today has certainly been reminiscent of polka dot prince Richard Virenque - the slender Dane has been out in front for virtually the whole time today.
Rasmussen is using those mountain-biking skills to burn up the descent. The team car gives Rasmussen some water and energy drink.
About 60 riders in the peloton - the big group could reduce the gap on Voigt and Moreau considerably on the flat roads to the finish. A T-Mobile rider dropping back in the peloton... does he have a flat or is he getting water from the cars? Now Voigt, big, big engine, and Moreau, power on - they have 40 km to hold off the Discovery charge.
It's Steinhauser, I think. He's done well to get over the climb intact.
Rasmussen takes the intermediate sprint; he won't care much about that. He's now after the stage win. But he is starting to look very tired.
1530 CEST - 40km to go - Rasmussen still has 4'09" on Moreau and Voigt and 8'54 on the peloton. Still, the route to Mulhouse is now flat.
Moreau has gotten a lot of mountain points today. He seems the only man who could challenge Rasmussen for the Polka Dot Jersey over the long haul.
Menchov (Rabobank) has a flat. He's back on the road now. Now Rasmussen's two pursuers come through the penultimate sprint of the day - Voigt takes the four seconds on offer for second, Moreau two for third.
For you Horner fans out there, he's still in the Yellow Jersey group, and he's still chatting with his fellow Americans. This time, he has a quick chat with Landis before moving up behind the T-Mobile train, which is sitting behind the Discovery train at the front of the pack.
Menchov is being towed back to the bunch by a teammate, with Pellizotti also there. Not sure why the Mad Scientist is there... I love his perm, though. Clearly nobody told him the 1990s ended.
Menchov gets back on, thanks to some sterling work from Michael "The Teeth" Boogerd. Barbra Streisand has been trying to contact Pellizotti's Liquigas-Bianchi squad... apparently she wants her hair back.
Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) and David Arroya (Illes Balears) are floating around at the back of the peloton now.
31 km to go. Rasmussen, then Voigt and Moreau 4 minutes back, the peloton 9 minutes back.
Voigt grits his teeth as he pulls through... the popular hardman is driving towards the Yellow Jersey. Voigt is on quite good terms with Armstrong and Discovery, so Lance will be happy to have a friend take over from him for a few days...he won't mind as long as he gets it back from Voigt somewhere before Paris.
By the way, Christophe Moreau and Jens Voigt aren't going to be complete strangers to one another - they rode for Crédit Agricole together for two years in 2002 and 2003. "Jensie" is one of the most likeable lads in the peloton, and is also a good English speaker.
Didn't they win the team time trial in 2002? 2001, I think.
Toujours le blue train at the front of the peloton - no one will help them out - behind them T-Mobile, then CSC and then Liberty Seguros. 25 km to go for the Great Dane.
2001 - that year, Moreau was riding for Festina (in their last year) and Voigt was on the TTT champ Credit Agricole team.
1552 CEST - Moreau and Voigt go under the 25km to go banner, 3'54" down on the Rabobank man. 2005 Giro d'Italia winner Paolo "Blue Falcon" Savoldelli is driving the peloton with George Hincapie. Crash, a Bouygues Telecom rider hits some road furniture.
Voigt started his career with ZVVZ Giant in 1997 - he then spent 5 years with Credit Agricole; he has had a great season this year.
Didier Rous is the man down. The Former French champion appears out of breath and disgusted, but he's standing. He's had rotten luck this year, having had to abandon the Giro d'Italia after a few days with stomach problems.
Voigt has punctured!!!!! Moreau appears to be waiting for Voigt. That's probably wiser, rather than it be three men chasing alone.
But bad, bad luck for Voigt. With 18km to go, Rasmussen leads by 4'12".
Cofidis is now up helping Discovery chase for some reason. And who else is up there mixing it with them? None other than Joseba Beloki. Meanwhile Rous is holding on to the doctor's car, his chin bleeding.
We could be seeing "Return of the Joseba" in the coming week. I'd love to see Beloki back at the top of the sport... he deserves to be remembered for something other than crashing and forcing Armstrong across that field, which is the last image we had of him at the Tour.
Matthew White sets the tempo for Cofidis; he's a dead ringer for Sean Kelly in my opinion. By the way, this should mean that O'Grady is in the same group.
Vicioso, Landaluze and Moos are now caught. Cioni too. (Remember them?) Rasmussen has his hands in the middle of the handlebars, down in that "time trial" position but on a normal road bike. Rous is wearing a neck brace/bandage. Now clearly hurt. He'll soldier on; if I remember right, in the 2003 Tour, Jimmy Casper was in a similar (painful) position after the pile-up at Meaux.
Well, it's certainly been Rabobank's weekend. Victory with Weening yesterday and now, seemingly, Rasmussen - and the Dane has quite a lead in the Polka Dot standings. Rasmussen is going to get a very famous victory this year, barring accidents.
1604 CEST - Voeckler and Rous are back in the peloton of some 60+ riders. Voigt and Moreau have 15 km to go.
Yes, so Rasmussen has been off the front for some 150 km now. That's a nice chunk of racing. 10 km to go for the Great Dane from Copenhagen - very big sport in Denmark - there will be huge celebrations there...Tivoli will be aflutter. His last win was a stage to Grenoble in last year's Dauphiné Libéré - this will eclipse it, and all other victories he has collected.
Two straight wins for the Raboboys... and neither was from Boogerd. The last Dane to win a Tour stage was CSC's Jakob Piil, when he outsprinted Fabio Sacchi in 2003.
They've had the King of the Mountains earlier with Kroon and Dekker too. Quite a week for them. I reckon the team sponsors/bosses will be appeased already...
Thomas Voeckler looks chirpy as he smiles and shares a joke with teammate Pierrick Fedrigo, his successor in the French tricolore jersey. Voigt is still working hard, trying to drive home his advantage to take Yellow. Moreau is working well with him, trying to take a commanding lead in that all-important race to be the highest-placed Frenchman in the Tour de France.
Meanwhile, 5 km to go for Rasmussen - black Colnago, orange shorts, polka dot jersey. Crazy Jane would be horrified by that clashing ensemble, but it kind of works. Okay, maybe not. But he's riding fast! He still leads the chasing pair by 4'00" and the peloton by 7'50". He should move ahead of Armstrong in the GC.
4 km to go for Rasmussen.
3 km to go for Rasmussen.
Tricky run in to the finish the peloton must be wary and careful - 2 km to go for Ramussen. Huge, huge crowds. Rasmussen is inspired by their cheers.
The group with most of the sprinters is some 20' behind Rasmussen. Ouch.
Moreau has a quick word with Voigt - and there comes the tongue, finally! He's like a dog lolling in the heat, panting periodically. Moreau is really pushing hard, his bug-tasting, tongue-out posture driving towards the finish with Voigt.
1 km to go for Rasmussen.
Out of the saddle - what a great ride he's done - round the right turn, swings left. He's losing a bit of time to the chasers and the peloton, but - frankly - he won't give a damn. 500 metres. After about 165km off the front, his great ride is almost over.
He has been in the lead of this race since kilometre 6 - he raises his arms. Crazed fans bang on the barriers in response. He wins!!!! The glasses can't hide the emotion he's feeling. He's having to get his land legs back after so much time on the bike.
Here come Moreau and Voigt, they will sprint for the bonification times. Good riding from these two as well, taking a chance to put a few minutes into Armstrong et al. The two men look very tired but they are taking it to the limit.
Voigt leads, now Moreau takes over, they have 1 k to go. Moreau amd Voigt finish 3'05''. Voigt gives a little pump of his fist as he crosses in 3rd. Voigt in Yellow, Moreau in second spot.
Now comes the peloton, Discovery leading, under the 1 km flag. Cofidis are lingering in the shadows.
Will O'Grady sprint for 4th and the points towards the Green Jersey? Yes! He takes 4th. McGee was up there sprinting as well. Oh la la, what a day! A Bouygues Telecom man and Gerolsteiner rider were near O'Grady - possibly Geslin and Lang, though it's hard to tell. Pineau was also there or thereabouts.
Moreau congratulates Voigt as they get dried off. Great to see a Frenchman and a German working so well together, and clearly happy for one another's success.
O'Grady was fourth with 91 points in the green jersey classement - he will now definitely leapfrog McEwen and is now much nearer Boonen and Hushovd.
The next finishers: Gilbert, Geslin, Lang, Brochard, Pineau and Glosmer followed O'Grady. Bouygues Telecom had a lot of men up there. Man, Giovanni Lombardi finished in the peloton. I thought he couldn't climb....
That peloton swelled an awful lot after that final climb. Over 80 men came across the line in the Yellow Jersey group. Spanish Champ Garate rolls in with a group over 10' back. That's not the climbing the sponsors wanted out of him, but he did ride the Giro, so it's caught up with him it seems.
Rasmussen takes his trophy and shakes hands with Hinault, who smiles and nods approvingly... Hinault loves a good attacker, just like he was when younger.
Horner came across in 13th.
Voigt smiles big taking his 2nd Yellow Jersey... so it's only been CSC and Discovery to hold the Yellow Jersey so far. Lance will get a break from the podium presentations and hoopla for a couple of days at least.
Rasmussen now takes the Polka Dot Jersey for best climber... well deserved for sure.
So Tuesday will see the first uphill finish, and that is the first major mountain showdown where there will be no more hiding. The riders finish at the top of the Cat 1 Courchevel, so the race will explode up that climb. Should be fun to watch. Tomorrow, Monday, is the first rest day of the race.
Hinault smiles and puts his arm around Rasmussen... he seems to have really taken a shine to the Danish climber.
Words from Discovery Channel's Hincapie:
"Sure, we were caught off guard yesterday. But we are still the same team as we were at the start. So, all the criticism from yesterday made us angry. Today was a much better day. I hope it'll get better and better from here.
"A couple of guys attacked on the climb [Gutierrez and Valverde], but they saw what it was like in the wind. We were in control the whole time, and did a good pace up the climb."
Thoughts on CSC: "They got the yellow jersey with Voigt - that's a big objective of theirs. They got it now, we want it at the finish in Paris."
Christophe Moreau, second on on today's stage and second on GC:
"It was a good day for me; it would have been nice if I had a couple more minutes in hand to get the yellow jersey, but I got good points for the King of the Mountains before the Alps and Pyrenees.
Ride for a high GC placing or the polka dot jersey? " That's a very good question. I have a big decision to make. Rasmussen won't be like that every day. Hopefully my consistency will help me. For now, I just want to recuperate as much as possible on the rest day."
Moreau was interviewed by former Festina teammate Richard Virenque, who has now taken a role as commentator at Eurosport.
CSC's David Zabriskie said that he got through yesterday hoping to get to the rest day, but his body isn't recovering the way it usually does. He says that it's hard going through all this with so many cameras around, such a difficult moment in his life.
Tough for him - he'll bounce back though, methinks.
Zabriskie also says that his body just won't let him go as deep as usual. He says that he had good times in the Yellow Jersey, so he hopes that will help him deal with the hardship of the last couple of days. When asked what he'll do now, Zabriskie said that he'll get ready for the Vuelta. Then he laughed and said "just kidding." He has already ridden in two grand tours this year. Always the joker.
Jens Voigt: he said that his career has had ups and downs, and now he can tell people who have asked him why he hasn't won the Yellow since 2001, "Look, now I've won it." He says that Rasmussen's ride was very, very impressive.
This wraps up our live report for today, and we thank you for being with us. Remember, Monday is a rest day, so join us again Tuesday for Stage 10 - Grenoble-Courchevel, 192.5 km. Here's the stage profile of this monster. See you then!
Commentary today by Andy McDobbin, Locutus and podofdonny.