According to La Gazzetta, Mercado was offering Dessel money for the win, but the amount wasn't right. I guess Mercado didn't like his chances in the sprint, so he stopped doing turns at the end to save some energy.
Their team cars were also beside each other, windows down. Anyway, the right result came about even if it wasn't done the sporting way.
Today…well. All the contenders are claiming to be quite nervous. Interesting to note that in the past, everyone was an underdog, except Lance, so they could watch him and decide what to do - T-Mobile has gotten so accustomed to being a "follower" that I think being in the driver's seat is an unknown. Consequently I doubt they minded giving up yellow for now. Someone with balls will take the peloton by the short 'n curlies tomorrow. Rasmussen is a good call as a few of you mentioned, but if he goes, others will follow because he was so good in the mountains last year you have to think that a few runaway performances and he could be in contention. Long shot? Yes, but no one will want to take risks. If Vino was around, you could count on him to put it on the line today.
Instead it's the Tour de Caution. Yellow jersey = yellow light. I think the jersey will be a hot potato until the Alps, none of the real contenders or their teams seem to want it right now. But the teams with more than one potential leader or who aren't first tier faves (Disco, Rabo, AG2R, T-Mob, Gerolsteiner, et al) will probe, go for a win, or at least see who has form for the future. Watch out for Rujano riding for his new team. So disappointed for Leipheimer, but that's racing. Probably a bit out of gas after winning Dauphine…who knows? Watch Gerolsteiner for another climbing stage win like Totschnig did last year - they have him, Leipheimer, and Wegmann who are all strong in the mountains - overall they have one of the stronger climber's teams. In fact, they formed their team around the mountains, ignoring the sprinters which, in hindsight, might have been a mistake.
Oh, derwood, yes Rasmussen not only crossed over from MTB, he is a former world champ, like Evans, but never as dominant as the diminutive Aussie who was world champ twice (or was it 3x?). Landis still rides a lot of MTB - apparently he's a bad-ass descender.
Today is gonna be sweet.