Phil says it was perfectly fair for Contador to attack Schleck when the later had a mechanical problem near the top of the Port de Bales on today's stage; in fact, he says, Contador did not really attack but was just following others. Paul disagrees, and thinks Contador's move was beyond fair play, and betrays a certain lack of confidence in Contador's ability to beat Schleck fair and square in the mountains.
Again, I'm not Contador's biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I tend to side with Phil on this one. It was Schleck who initiated the attack, and it's not Contador's fault that Schleck lost his chain after attacking. Moreover, the mechanical occurred at a crucial stage of the race, within 20k of the finish. Other riders cannot really be expected to hold their fire at that point in the race. I would note, however, that there were a lot of boos from the crowd when Contador pulled on the yellow jersey on the podium after today's stage.
Whether or not Contador's attack today was fair, I look forward to seeing Schleck attack tomorrow with the same kind of venom that Vinokourov showed the day after he lost out to Rodriguez. I'm not clear what Team Saxo Bank's strategy will be. The climb up the Tourmalet comes pretty early in the stage, after two Cat 1 climbs, and there's a long way to go after the Tourmalet. Will Schleck go early and hope to hold off Contador and the rest of the wolves to the end? Will Saxo send another rider up the road early, who will then wait for Schleck to bridge up? If that's the plan, then Andy Schleck's brother Frank will be missed even more than he has been already. One thing's for sure: tomorrow's stage should be most interesting.
BTW, great riding by French racers in this year's TdF. Chavenel has two stage wins. Yesterday it was Christophe Riblon, and today Thomas Voekler rode away from the peloton for a solo win. Vive la France!