by Nicki Wood
Every stage of this Tour de France is the most exciting one ever, for a Tour watcher. Yet even in this tour of thrilling firsts and jaw-dropping athleticism, today's grim five-mountain climb stood out. It had everything you want in a film about the Tour: intuitive teamwork by Luxembourg's Schleck brothers, the smile on that cute Andy Schleck. The sportsmanship of Contador, who rolled across the line in second place in tribute to the hard work of Frank Schleck, with Andy Schleck behind. Commentator Phil Liggett, the suavest and smartest in all of sports, dubbed it The Luxembourg Sandwich.
There was a spectacular near-crash and recovery by Thor Hushovd, and a heart-breaking interview with Levi Leipheimer, back home in California nursing a broken wrist. The California dewd-ness of Christian Vandevelde, the gritty relentlessness of Britain's Bradley Wiggins, the wiley strategy of Lance Armstrong, the thinking man's strongman.
And the package on Contador! Can it possibly be real?
Tomorrow is the time trial, and all the factors are aligning to make it the most exciting time trial in several years. Too exciting to watch alone, so I'm heading for Twelfth South Taproom to join other tour watchers. The tour "highlight" broadcast -- an edited two-hour version -- is on from 4-6 p.m. and again from 8-10 p.m. with enhancements like interviews and commentary. Guys, how about a Luxembourg Sandwich for the occasion?