Wonderful stage today! I've always loved the intermediate stages between the Alps and the Pyrenees. One would think those roads would be pretty flat, but they aren't. There's an old, soulful mountain range right in the middle of southern France called the Massif Central that keeps them rolling.
I've never been to the Massif's mountains, but it looks to me that they're not unlike our equally soulful Appalachians here on the East Coast. I love the dark beauty of those quiet mountains and forests. One of the most graceful moments of today's stage was when the peloton crossed over a Roman aqueduct-style bridge, the subject of my quick Tour painting for this evening:
As for the strategy of Stage 12, I think Alberto Contador attacked on the Mende climb simply to stamp a little fear into his rivals before the Pyrenees. It was as if Contador was saying: "Watch out! You never know when I'm going to strike." I thought it was a brilliant and stylish move.
The cool and calm Andy Schleck never panicked though. He may not have had it in his legs to follow Contador at that moment, but he kept riding hard enough to minimize the lose of time. So tonight he still wears yellow (it's just 10 seconds less bright...).