Great stage and a great tour.
Yes, it seemed baffling at the time when Cadel got no one to help in chase, but by the top the reason was clear. NO ONE had both the legs and a reason to do so!
Europcar : Kudos for strategy, if not necessarily the sportsmanship. Rolland had strength to help, but Cadel had already pushed Voeckler on limit. Maillot Jeune would have been hurt, not helped if Rolland participated in pace-setting 'cause any extra pace or aceleration would have probably cracked Tommy.
Cadel saved the jersey for them and Tommy's two main challengers (AS and Cadel) ended just as deep in a red-zone as he himself. There is a STRONG possibility those two will not have energy in Alpe d'Huez to do more than defend... FS will probably go, but he needs to take close to two minutes out of TV, AS & CE to be secure of winning. Especially if others can rest a bit tomorrow while Fränk burns his matches...
For EVERYone criticising Rolland. He was doing a PERFECT race yesterday and was immensely strong! It was obvious that Tommy V expected himself to lose contact with contenders at some point. Rolland was saving himself to shepherd MJ up and LIMIT the losses. When his captain did actually enter the final km intact and with a chance of saving the jersey, Rolland immediately went to work - BUT was cried off by exploding lungs of Voeckler as he found out inside 10 secs he couldn't match Pierre. PERFECT helper.
Outside Rolland, Europcar never had anyone to help in pace-making in the valley. Was even Charteau there at that point anymore? Even if he did reach the MJ group for a while, he had nothing left.
Maybe a bit disappointed that Szmyd couldn't/didn't pull at least for a solid km, but maybe he just didn't have legs or maybe Basso didn't feel strong enough.
Conti & Samu didn't have it. Simple. Remember that Samu f ex had to let VDV, Zubeldia etc go in the end and lost a full minute to them! Just holding Haimar's wheel would have kept him in competition for top-5 finish.
Prognosis for today : F.Schleck goes for a rampage and may be joined by some stage-hunter like Jeannesson, Uran (if he recovers) or possibly given a big hand by Arroyo (who could work to eliminate/further penalize Cav).
Others who may feel brave are Contador (stage win would salvage a bit), Samu, Vanendert (KoM race + stage honours). Basso and Cunego are in unfortunate situation of not really contending overall anymore, but still too close to be let go...
My feeling is that after totally knackering themselves yesterday and with a long TT looming, the trio of AS, Cadel & TV will ride defensively. The latter two don't want to let Fränky-boy to win the Tour today, but neither will any of them want to risk the legs for TT for a small gain.
Voeckler MAY crack completely, but we have been waiting for that for a week already... Besides, he has the best domestique in his service.
So, Maillot Jeune to finally change shoulders today to Fränk Schleck, but overall title only to be decided in TT.
GC after Stage 19 :
Thomas Voeckler +37
Andy Schleck +44
Cadel Evans + 1.41
Ivan Basso + 3.55
Alberto Contador +4.11
Damiano Cunego +4.19
The rest (including S.Sanchez) upto 7 minutes down.