Good day, Bad day - stage 13

Very good for anyone attached to Lance Armstrong, but some of his rivals do seem to have peaked too

Very good for anyone attached to Lance Armstrong, but some of his rivals do seem to have peaked too
BAD DAY: Basque fans: What a waste. Having spent half the night on the autoroute, sleeping in lay-bys, camped out in car parks, and then making the long drive between La Mongie and Plateau de Beille, the orange tide had nothing - nada - to cheer from their Euskaltel heroes. Mayo and Zubeldia were both absent without leave and who would have expected that a few weeks ago as the Dauphin Libr ended? Marks out of 10 - nine for the fans, nada for the team Phonak: Oh dear. In St Flour, team directeur Jacques Michaud was certain that the gaps would be very tight until the Alpe d'Huez time trial and that his team leader, Tyler Hamilton, would be in the shakedown. Now he must be wondering if he can sneak any riders into the overall top 10. Marks out of 10 - sympathy for the hapless Hamilton, but a feeble five is in order for this Pyrenean collapse The Tour: The field has been devastated by the climbs of the past 48 hours. Only one man can now win - unless he crashes or gets sick. And can you really see that happening? It should have been an epic Alpine climax, but by the time we get to Besancon next Saturday, Armstrong could be set to win by his biggest margin yet. Marks out of 10 - a five (for foregone conclusion, that is...) GOOD DAY: Lance Armstrong: Victory is within reach. From the feisty kid who knew nothing of tactics, he is now Mr Consistency. He is the soccer player who never fails in a penalty shoot-out, the golfer who always shoots par - while all around him lose their heads, he keeps his. He is expert at keeping calm in a crisis. Marks out of 10 - top ten for him and his team. Bill Stapleton: Armstrong's agent may have been away from the race the past few days, but he will know that 'The Brand' is still very much intact after today's master class in the Pyrenees. Surely even more offers will be rolling in over the next week - but is there any more space left on that jersey? Marks out of 10 - another ten. Discovery Channel: It could have been seen as a risk to invest in Armstrong after last year's Tour and then his performance on Mont Ventoux in June. Now the new sponsorship deal looks vindicated - big time. Bet they can't wait until next year... Marks out 10 - eight for keeping the faith
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