David Moncoutié wins into Digne-les-Bains to give France a dream stage-victory on the 14th of July! David’s pedal stroke is one of the most beautiful in the peleton. The man just looks like form personified, as if he and his bike were one and the same. His legs turn the cranks in perfect circles–effortlessly.

Lance looks good and his team controlled the “day off” for all the main contenders. Losing Beltran will make the mountain stages to come just a bit more interesting and makes one wonder how the news is being protrayed in the other team buses.

Beltan attempts to get back in the race after his crash but the apparent concussion is just too much. Initial reports from hospital show no serious damage. Discovery Channel lost its first rider when Beltran crashed on the Col des Demoiselles Coiffées. According to teammate José Luis Rubiera, Oscar Sevilla (Phonak) swiped Beltran’s front wheel by accident, sending Beltran face-first to the pavement.

The skinny Spanish veteran tried to carry on, but pulled out about 15km later and was taken to a hospital in Gap for brain scans. He is being held overnight, but the early diagnosis indicate there’s no serious injury.

“It could be very critical, with two tough days in the Pyrénées. Triki is one of our pure climbers,” Armstrong said. “What’s happened, happened; we have [the others] to pick up the slack, I feel very confident that with those seven guys we can manage it.”

The 34-year-old Beltran is a specialist climber and Armstrong will miss him when the race returns to the mountains on Saturday. He has been part of Armstrong’s Tour-winning team since 2003.

“There is nobody who can pick up what he was doing,” said Discovery Channel team boss Johan Bruyneel. “Everyone knows his role, he and Chechu were working in the early mountains. It’s going to be tougher on the team, one guy less and his job will have to share. It’s the race, always can happen, the most important thing is that he’s safe and he’s okay. I think the other guys will be strong enough.”

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