PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
After a dismal performance in the Pyrenees, but staying in contention on Tuesday's Alpe d'Huez stage, losing time to Floyd Landis, but ending the day just 10 seconds down on the American overall, Pereiro is back in yellow, and looking a very good bet indeed for yellow in Paris. Landis may be out of contention, but a rampant Carlos Sastre and Andreas Kloden are still a danger. There may yet be more fireworks before the jersey finds the right pair of shoulders.
The Spanish climber couldn't do enough to catch former CSC team-mate Rasmussen on the stage, but that would have been furthest from his mind. Instead, Sastre saw Landis crumble under Denis Menchov's attack on La Toussuire, and took advantage. Taking 13 seconds from the Pereiro-Kloden-Evans group may be key. Now second overall to compatriot Pereiro, with one more mountain stage on Thursday, will we see the first Spanish Tour winner since Miguel Indurain in 1995?
The 32-year-old Dane got his stage win, which he had so craved, though to the detriment of it almost being overshadowed by the fight for yellow behind him. Seeing the skinny man they call 'Chicken' out alone, hoovering up the points to give him back the mountains jersey he won last year, there was never any doubt as to who was going to be the day's stage winner.
Some journalists in the Tour press room described watching Landis crumble on La Toussuire as heartbreaking. Certainly, at Alpe d'Huez, the American looked like he'd sewn the Tour up, but warned that anyone can have a bad day at any time. He had the worst day possible, the images of him struggling uphill in the golden fleece reminiscent of Greg Lemond in 1989. Of course, Lemond came back to win the final time trial and take yellow by eight seconds, but the chances of even time trial specialist Landis clawing back eight minutes and eight seconds on Pereiro on Saturday's 57km test is nigh-on impossible. But anything can happen as this year's Tour has proven, and Saturday is still three days away.