I wouldn't have characterized today's stage as "mountainous," exactly - there was a category two climb toward the end (the scale goes from 4 - easiest, to 1 - 2nd hardest, and HC stands for the French "hors categorie," meaning it's beyond classification), but it shouldn't have shelled guys the way it did today. Especially not the Discovery guys. After the climb, Lance was left alone - no teammates to help him chase down the attacks of T-Mobile & CSC, both teams which had three or more guys in the group. Not a good way to begin the tough stages.
Lance talked afterwards about the fact that his teammates couldn't hang with him - it's true that they kept the yellow leader's jersey this week when it would probably have been good for them to relinquish it to another team (so someone else would have to work to defend it), but no one else stepped up to claim it. Perhaps the Disco Boys are tired... Whatever the problem, it's a big mistake that the team will have to fix going into the coming week (where the real mountains are), or Lance will be incredibly vulnerable.
It was an exciting sprint finish, actually. Bob Roll, OLN's "color commentator," said, "It's never pretty when you have climbers sprinting..." And it's true. The two guys who were in the breakaway and sprinted for the stage win aren't sprinters - so it looked a little odd. And in the end it was a matter of millimeters that ensured Dutchman Pieter Weening the win over German Andreas Kloden.
The other big contenders are still in contention, all finishing with Lance's group - including Basso, Ullrich, Leipheimer, Landis, and Vino. Tomorrow's going to be interesting, indeed.
Oh, and let's also not forget the silly things people will do to get noticed...