Today was the kind of racing I like to see! Aggressive, unpredictable and exciting! There were multiple breakaways the yellow jersey was on the attack and the peloton was split into multiple groups. The final acceleration by Steve Cummings with Dimension Data put the final nail in the coffin for the breakaway and he managed to stay clear to the line swooping down the descent and crossing the line arms aloft! What a race!
After a barrage of attacks, a lage group or 29 men went clear. All the teams were represented in the breakaway so the main field let them have their head and they took it and ran. Out of that group came a group of three who were joined by Cummings shortly before the start of the Col d"Aspin. Cummings managed to shake his pursuers near the base of the climb and he went up the climb at a surprising rate. TV commentary noted that Cummins had been left off the British Olympic team and that this was potentially a statement to British Cycling.
The yellow jersey, Greg Vanavermaet managed to stay out in no-mans land and arrive to the line on his own. He even gained time over the main field and extended his lead. Vanavermaet is considered more of a one day racer and the prevailing thought is his time in the jersey will be limited. I think, however, he's going to make the most of his time in yellow. Its a rare honor for any cyclist to wear the maillot Jaune and most find themselves highly motivated with yellow on their shoulders.
The race favorites finished close together with minimal fireworks. The big guns are keeping their powder dry a bit longer. The major shake-ups are still to come and riders like Froome, Quintana and Contador are going to wait for their opportunities that are yet to come.
A notable race happening was that the inflatable 1km inflatable banner came down on top of the main field. One of the Orica riders took a hard spill as a result and the rest of the group got held up. The race jury awarded the riders all the same time so there was no change in the GC even though there was a hold up.
Tomorrow brings an 183km stage with 4 nasty climbs. The first is the Col du Tourmalet followed by 3 additional bits of nastiness. This is where we'll see the climbers and GC favorites come out to play. Look for Froome, Quintana, Contador and Roman Bardet with the AG2R to animate the race. The first climb appears at 67km. There will be the early breakaway that will try to arrive to the base of the climb with enough of an advantage to stay away for the duration. My feeling is that its unlikely that a break will succeed.
Look for a name rider to win the stage either solo of in the presence of a small group.