It is impossible to say whether the final week of this year's Tour de France is the toughest ever, but it is unprecedented in recent years.
The sense that, although this may be Chris Froome's Tour, it is not a happy one for Team Sky strengthened on Thursday when a high speed crash two kilometres from the finish left the team's Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen with a broken right shoulder.
The race referees exonerated Mark Cavendish from any wrongdoing in a controversial sprint finish won by Marcel Kittel in which the German's team-mate Tom Veelers ended up on the deck but the Manxman still ended up in the midst of a storm.
So much for convention. So much for history in this, the 100th edition of the Tour de France.