Never before has Alberto Contador's pistol signal carried more weight than it did at the top of Verbier on the third Sunday in July. The signal seemed an appropriate way to end the discussion about Astana's disputed captaincy.
"Bang! You can put that one to bed fellas, I'm the team leader," he effectively said as he climbed away from the other favorites.
Contador fired a salvo in the Pyrenees when he pulled to within six seconds of then yellow jersey wearer, Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R). The full arsenal was deployed later in Switzerland, and a stage win and the jersey were his.
This year's Tour has been a firm test of Contador's character and temperament. There's a few more days until the end of exams, but it will take a strong rival to knock him out of the top spot for 2009.