Then, the yellow jersey group blew wide open as Porte accelerated. Suddenly, Froome and Porte were alone with Contador, whose three teammates — Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers and Jesus Hernandez — drifted back.
Froome appeared to whisper in Porte’s ear and with 4 miles to go, Froome launched a devastating attack on Contador — rocketing up the slope as fans threw water over him and others lit orange flares or waved British flags close to his face. He was so fast that within moments he had caught Quintana.
As he moved alongside Quintana, Froome attacked again but Quintana responded well.
Other countries were well represented. There were dozens of Union Jacks and Norwegians and Danes wearing Viking costumes. Pockets of Belgians and Dutch swigged beers, others dressed up as animals or ran alongside the riders in inflatable body suits.
The chaotic, raucous, deafeningly loud scene included motorbikes and spectators perilously close to the riders.
Near the summit, the scenery started to change, with fewer and fewer trees; then just a little bit of green brush left, before even that gave way to the barren, lunar landscape that makes Ventoux unique.
Toward the top it was windy, overcast and cool, a welcome respite from the stifling heat below, with temperatures again well into the 90s.
Following a rest day Monday, there is a medium mountain stage on Tuesday — 104 miles from the medieval cliff-top town of Vaison-la-Romaine in Provence to Gap in the Alps.
Then come the final few days of agony in the mountains.
There are three straight days of tortuous climbing — including two ascents up the famed l’Alpe d’Huez pass in one day on Stage 18. The next two days both feature two Hors Categorie climbs each — so tough they are considered beyond classification.
The race ends the following day with a nighttime finish on the Champs-Elysees.