-- Now for some well-earned rest and relaxation, Tour de France style.
Battered and bruised physically and mentally by a crash-filled first week, cyclists get their first day of rest Monday -- a chance to treat wounds, sleep in and steel themselves for the first mountainous stages.
"It's been a crazy first week. I don't ever remember doing one like that," said five-time champion Lance Armstrong, who worries that a crash could end his bid for a record sixth title.
Norway's Thor Hushovd won Sunday's hilly but fast stage through Brittany in western France, using a closing burst of speed to win the 104-mile stage from Lamballe to Quimper in 3 hours 54 minutes 22 seconds.
Armstrong remained in sixth place overall, 9:35 behind leader Thomas Voeckler. American Tyler Hamilton is 36 seconds behind Armstrong and Jan Ullrich is 55 seconds back.
"I had trouble because it was slippery and dangerous," said Ullrich, the 1997 champion and five-time runner-up.
All four riders clocked the same time as Hushovd. Ullrich finished 21st, Hamilton 30th, Armstrong 33rd and Voeckler 58th.
After Monday's day off, the Tour swings for three days through the Massif Central, a mountainous, agricultural plateau of central France that will offer a foretaste of more brutal climbs that lurk in the Pyrenees and then, in the final week, in the Alps. The race ends July 25 in Paris.
"We'll start to see the start of the real race," Armstrong said Sunday evening before boarding a flight that took riders south to the Massif Central. "There are a few days that are not so selective, but then we have the mountains and the start of the real Tour."
More than half of the 188 riders who started the Tour have been involved in crashes in the mostly flat first week that took the Tour through Belgium, into northern France and, on Sunday, to the Brittany town of Quimper, near the Atlantic coast.
A dog scampering into the pack of riders near the end of Sunday's stage took down French rider Samuel Dumoulin, who finished nearly 11 minutes behind Hushovd.
"His elbow's swelling. I have to get some ice," said Dumoulin's team manager, Vincent Lavenu.
Armstrong escaped serious injury in a fall Friday, and Hamilton is still sore from a spill.
The crashes are largely because of rain that has doused the race and slickened roads, early nerves and the high speeds of the first week, where stages have ended with mass sprints. "Every time I do the Tour, we talk about it being the craziest one to date. But this year has definitely been tough with the weather and all of the crashes," said American Bobby Julich, racing in his seventh Tour. "Once we get into the mountains, it's really nice. . . . There's a lot less stress."
Voeckler, among a string of young riders who have stolen the show in the first week, may be able to hang on to the overall leader's yellow jersey into the Pyrenees, before Armstrong and other top challengers look to take it from him.
"Today really was my day. I'm very happy," said Hushovd, who also placed third in the first stage, second in Stage 2 and wore the leader's yellow jersey for one day in his standout first week.