At the start village on the morning of Stage 6, where riders were scheduled to head into a very dark place, the banter around the breakfast table was mixed. Downing Pain Shakes like someone was going to take them away, riders reflected on the transition stage ahead.
Eventually, it was time to get up off the floor and face the race ahead...
The stage opened up nicely enough, with a few quick sprints to get things moving before a rider from the Astana team took off for the first real effort of the day.
Bridging quickly, The Sufferlandrian appeared to be suffering terribly despite the rather steady pace and flat terrain.
When a group of no-hopers went clear the Sufferlandrian was threatened with demotion back to the Pro-Continental ranks. Hanging miserably onto the back of the group, it soon became clear that the Ministry of Encouragement would be needed to urge our Sufferlandrian to greatness, and so they were dispatched with much success.
Like a phoenix from the ashes, the Sufferlandrian began to display signs of the greatness that the nation has waited for. Even a mishap during an all-out attack by Philippe Gilbert and the Schleck brothers couldn't stop our Sufferlandrian hero.
To the thrill of the entire Sufferlandrian Nation, that attack took the rider clear and drew out none other than Fabian Cancellara, still smarting from the high-speed shredding he got on Stage 1 of the Tour. Over the closing kilometers before the final climb, it was mano-a-mano with Spartacus until none other than Cadel Evans, his confidence perhaps boosted by his strong showing on Stage 5 attacked.
Hanging on by the shred of a shredded chamois, our hero fought to the very bitter end. Coming across the line completely shattered, interviews were brief as riders headed to the Sufferlandrian Holy Water Immersion Pools in preparation for tomorrow's queen stage.
SPECIAL: WE WOULD LIKE ALL RIDERS TO KNOW THAT THE CAFE IS TODAY OFFERING 'MINION BEATING ME WITH A STICK LATTES' AT HALF PRICE.
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