Italian Rinaldo Nocentini from Ag2r-La Mondiale, who now wears the Yellow Jersey, was in 32nd place before Stage 7 when he joined a long breakaway that the peloton, lead by Team Astana, never caught. Nocentini moved up 31 places in a field of nearly 200 to gain the yellow jersey today. Well done!
Astana set the pace for the peloton today, mostly going at what seemed a fast training pace before Contador hit the gas in the final kilometers of Stage 7 as he and his team neared the finish in Andorra. While Contador missed the Yellow Jersey by just six seconds -- six seconds! -- he asserted his leadership of Team Astana, with he and Armstrong swapping their relative positions in the G.C.
Astana holds a commanding position in the GC, with four Astana riders in the top 10. American riders also dominate, with Lance Armstrong in 3rd, his teammate Levi Leipheimer behind him in 4th, and Slipstreams Christian Van de Velde in 8th place.
Will we see a podium peopled completely by Team Astana in at a stage finish soon?
The Tour is long, and there are many plans yet to unfold. Last year's decisive stage on Alpe d'Huez is in my head - Frank Schleck was in yellow, only to sacrifice it for Sastre. Bait and Switch? Three Card Monte?
It would be hard to know who to mark - Alberto, Lance, Levi, or Andreas? Who's really the leader? I don't think that the mystery and drama surrounding that question is entirely accidental.
I'm probably wrong, but, like James said, I'm loving the drama of this tour, even though my sleep schedule is paying a heavy price. Cheers!