By Susan Westemeyer
The "race within the race" has opened up some, with Sylvain Chavanel far outdistancing younger brother Sébastien, and Bert Grabsch maintaining a narrow lead over older brother Ralf.
All four finished in the main pack Friday, getting the same time as winner Tom Boonen, so there was no change in the fraternal standings. In Saturday's time trial, Bert Grabsch crashed but still finished over a minute ahead of his brother, so that they were finally separated in the GC, with Bert in 118th and Ralf at position 122. The difference was more dramatic for the French brothers, with Sylvain finishing some six and a half minutes faster than Sébastian.
Sunday was Sylvain's day again, as he finished 45th on the first Pyrenean stage, 12'38" down. The other three came in with the gruppetto at 34'52". In the Chavanel family GC, Sylvain is now 28th, with Sébastian at 152. For the Grabsches, Bert is 118th and Ralf 123.
So just imagine a two-main breakaway, with rival teams Milram and T-Mobile being represented in the forms of the two brothers. What would happen? Well, brotherly love goes only so far.
"There are no compromises, each of us would grab any chance of winning," Bert said on t-mobile-team.com. "We can be brothers again when the race is over." And according to Ralf, "We would first first want to stop any rivals latching on to our rear wheels but would then ride against each other fairly. I believe neither of us has an advantage. An escape attempt just before the finishing line would be ideal, but Bert's not stupid..."