Okay, I relent! I'll admit I started all this Lanterne Rouge discussion so I deserve your questions, but we are only at the first Rest Day so any real substantive discussion of the true contenders for the little lantern is rather pointless. The current back of the bunch is a newbie to the whole lantern affair, Team RadioShack's DmitriyMuravyev, who finished outside my 30 minute cut-off in TdF 2009 (yes, I impose my own time cut-off). So using my multi-decade rule of considering only the riders within 30 minutes of the victorious Lanterne Rouge you can see that with our current 45 "contenders" at the end of Stage 8 you can't really call the challenge "contentious" quite yet. Tuesday's stage should open things up a bit, even the autobus can't be forgiving enough to protect 45 guys - and believe me anyone who has turned a pedal on the beast called Mademoiselle Madeleine will tell you she won't be forgiving. We should be down to a couple dozen real contenders tomorrow evening and start to see clear chasms of opportunity glowing in the race for rouge.
PS - Lance if you are reading, here's your real shot at velo-immortality - you are already a third of the way back, just keep going and aim for Rouge - you will make history, the only seven-time winner of the maillot jaune AND Lanterne Rouge! Think of it.