Lance crashed twice (or so) in yesterday's Stage 8 in the Alps, and after the second sort-of crash, he totally cracked -- lost all motivation and impetus to race -- and fell behind the race leaders by around 14 minutes.
But I would argue that he was never inclined to win the Tour this year anyway. He might be in good form physically, but throughout his comeback, I don't think his head has been into it. He doesn't have that killer mental edge he had during his seven-victory reign.
And of course that's fine. He's allowed to race at whatever pace he chooses, especially because of what he's been able to achieve in the past. Here's my gripe, though: if your head isn't really into it, and you think you're "too old" or whatever, then don't force your team to circle around you like a cocoon as though it's 2004 and you have a shot at the yellow jersey. It's insulting to the team, which is made up of some of the top riders in the field, and it's insulting to the sponsor. It begins to look like a pathetic walk down memory lane -- like a former high school football player pining for his glory days. Napoleon's Uncle Rico wishing, "Don't you wish you could just go back?!"
But none of that matters how, of course. The team will be allowed to ride for whatever glory they seek, with American Levi Leipheimer (Lance's Shack teammate and only two years younger) in reach of another podium finish.
The Tour has been epic so far, and the intensity will continue to build. Contador isn't the machine he's been in the past, and there's no predicting how it will all play out at this point.