Cobblestones! Seven sections of cobbled mayhem, to be exact. They were the stars of today's stage. It was as if the Tour de France gods put all the riders in a salt shaker, gave them a good toss, and let the contenders spill out wherever they happened to land.
Poor Frank Schleck, out with a broken collarbone. So sad seeing him go down. It's going to be strange watching his brother Andy race without him. But there were many wonderful rides today too. Contador looked cool and composed throughout. Armstrong rode with such amazing determination and grit, trying to recover from a terribly-timed flat tire. The entire Saxo Bank team dominated the stage, pushing everyone to their limits. And I was delighted to see Thor Hushovd pull out the winning sprint.
There was nothing graceful or elegant about this stage. It was rough, dirty ... and so colorful and thrilling. As always, the fans were amazing. And so it's the cloud of dirt, flags, cobbles, and color that's the subject of my quick impressionistic painting for tonight: