Contador's performance today put the hurt on Evans and Valverde while Levi cruised in 4th for the stage and 4th on GC. Not bad at all considering. As much as I agree with a lot of you that Levi is generally pretty dull to watch, he is looking pretty solid at the moment.
On the contrary, I think Levi would be a great domestique. He could set a very fast tempo to soften the field and then Contador could accelerate away.
No one would expect it, and if played properly it could even look like like Levi was attacking. It almost happened today, but Levi ended up on the front for all of 15 seconds (then dropped back as usual to save energy) after Popovich pulled off instead burning himself out for the few minutes it would take to really make it work.
Levi alone could probably whittle the field down to just a few of men if he wasn't concerned about his own placing. Which would just mean all the more damage Contador could inflict coming off his wheel.
But you are right in that either of them could have a bad day. Both of them getting into the select group on the last climbs and Levi getting on the front before Contador attacks is probably all they can really plan for.
I think Levi has ridden a fantastic TDF. He's been consistent, and keeps moving up on GC. He's highly likely to finish top 5, good chance to be on the podium, and still a very slight outside chance to win.
Levi is getting the most out of his abilities. Riding his own tempo in the mountains, he's gradually picked up time on most of his rivals. And his TT, while weak compared to Vino's time, still gained time on most of the GC top ten.
He doesn't have the massive acceleration, ride away from everyone ability, and he knows it would be foolish to try.
But by staying within himself, and riding his tempo, he's gradually doing quite well in a war of attrition.
The people that are crtical of Levi are simply expecting things from him that he doesn't have.
Levi is a muture rider who knows his abilities and is not be foolish enough to ride outside them. That said, I expect he will throw everything he has at the Col d' Aubique. If you read his face he always looks calm and collected, even as Rasmussen goes up the road. If he can ride away from (not attack) Evans on Wednesday He knows he has a chance in a longer ITT with less climbing. This strategy may come up short but I respect him for using all wis grit, determination, intelligence, and experience to try and win.