The Alps. The last hope for some, the last struggle for others.
The rest day, as per script, became a stress day, with doping allegations, data crunching, numerology and mythology having their 15 minutes of fame.
Then, like at the opera after the instruments are tuned up with a well rehearsed cacophony, all was ready and quiet. Well, if 50km/h and a few mountain passes can be considered quiet!
A few riders tried to ride through illness and fatigue, some of those eventually had to give up. Notably, Kwiatkowski, who coincidentally has been told his contract won't be renewed by Etixx-QuickStep. But the biggest surprise was the retirement of BMC leader Tejay van Garderen, leaving the race in 3rd place. The American struggled from the start and was repeatedly dropped until he eventually threw in the towel, unable to keep up with the pace. That opened up the race for the podium.