Skiing the Tour de France

Wednesday's "queen stage" of the Tour de France was a doozy, with Carlos Sastre emerging from the GC to take the lead in the race with juuust enough time over favorite Cadel Evans that Saturday's time trial will be a scorching good race to decide the whole thing. Wednesday's final climb up l'Alpe d'Huez was, as anticipated, the decisive section of the race: all the contenders were together at the bottom, but then Sastre uncorked a big surge that wound up putting nearly two minutes into the field.

He made that attack stick on cycling's biggest, craziest platform, a hill that is notorious for insane fans - up to a million of them (not a misprint) - who literally get in the racers' faces throughout the 15-some kilometers of climbing. This is the hill where even Lance Armstrong feared the fans.

Then again, not all of them are drunken Netherlanders mobbing the "Dutch corner" in their orange shirts. Some are Norwegians, rollerskiing up the goddamn thing.


Shot cribbed from a great photoessay on the fans on the Alpe by Ed Hood on Pez Cycling News.

Forecast: Significant blowing and drifting, with the possibility of heavy accumulation in rural areas.