It was as if we'd stepped into a dream. The white jersey of Andy Schleck and the yellow jersey of Alberto Contador, emerging from the murky mists of the Tourmalet, climbing higher and higher -- into the clouds. After three weeks of racing it had come down to this.
Side by side, they climbed ... Schleck in front, Contador just behind. Equal competitors, their attacks were barely noticeable on the road. It was in their faces that the story of Stage 17 was written. Surrounded by wild fans, fog, and flags waving in their faces, Schleck and Contador's eyes were focused solely on each other -- testing, daring, concentrating, and wondering.
It was in those great cyclists' eyes that you saw they got it. They got that here on this most historic of Tour de France climbs they were creating something extraordinary. When they patted each other on the back at the finish line, I think for a moment they had stepped outside of themselves, realizing what an incredible mountaintop adventure story they had written together. They were each simply saying: well done, my friend.
It's Schleck, Contador, the fans, and the mists of the Tourmalet that are the subject for my Stage 17 painting:
What an incredible stage it was.