This stage has got 2 category 2 climbs at 105 and 126km, one category 4 at 30 km, and one category h climb at 166km with a descent to finish the stage at 187km. Lance Armstrong finished 15 minutes after Riblon. He’s 39:24 behind Schleck. Astana had a great opportunity yesterday to distance Schleck when he went back to the team car during the climb. It proves that their form wasn’t on par. If Contador would have attacked, Schleck wouldn’t have caught him. Contador could have been in the yellow jersey and had a few minutes on Schleck.
In an interview, Schleck says that he couldn’t pass Contador because it would have given him the opportunity to attack. In the end, they worked together to catch up with Menchov and Sanchez. It was a stupid move. The climb suited Contador more than Schleck, but both admit that it wasn’t their best day. All in all, it looked great for Menchov. If he can do something similar, he can move up in the GC. Gesink is also 6th, so this is a good year for Rabobank.
There is a breakaway that is 4:45 at 85.5km. Voeckler is among them. Vanbord, Summeren, Ivanov, Mondory, Ballan, Reda, Roberts, Turgot, and Perez are part of the breakaway. At 83.9km, the leaders are 5:41 in front. It looks like Saxo Bank recuperated because they completely left Schleck alone yesterday, which wasn’t a smart idea. If Contador had better form or acted on his advantage yesterday, he would have completely dropped Schleck. At 83km, it’s 6:26.
Cavendish has mechanical problems and is dropped by the peloton. Petacchi and Hushovd went after the points on the first climb. At 81.9km, the gap is 6:55. Cavendish joins the peloton again. At 72.3, it’s 8:04. The pace is slow and the breakaway has a good chance of succeeding. At 63.3km, it is 9:20. At 50.9km, it’s 10 minutes.
At 35.8km, the peloton is accelerating. The gap is at 9:47. There is a crash. Mayoz, Lancaster, and Geslin are on the ground. Geslin gets up again. The pace is up. The gap is 9:15 at 35km. Shortly, the gap is at 8:51. The sprinters are grouped at the end of the peloton. They split off. Saxo Bank is pushing the pace higher. At 33km, it is 8 minutes and going down fast. At 30 km, it’s 6:33.
Voeckler makes a move. Summeren and Ballan try to follow. Summeren has been trying to shed as many riders as possible from the group and it’s working well. At 25km, Schleck is down to one man leading the pace. It’s Chris Anka Sorenson. Ballan is 43″ behind Voeckler, who’s riding pretty good. Nicholas Roche had a puncture and is trying to make his way back to the front of the peloton. Schleck should be worried because there are 4 Astana climbers behind him.
At 24 km, Schleck starts making the pace. Van Der Broeck and Contador are right on him. Gesink, Menchov and Sanchez are there as well. This is a great little group. However, none of them want to take the pacing from Schleck. They finally do so at 25km. Voeckler’s lead is 5:20. The Schleck group is caught back by the peloton. Leipheimer, Sanchez and Gadre make a move, but they are quickly caught. Gadre is allowed to ride away.
Perez is on the wheel of Ballan. At 21,9km, Andy Schleck makes his move. Vinokourov is trying to follow him. Schleck loses his chain and Vinokourv accelerates away. Contador does the same. They speed away. Gesink and Menchov are behind Contador. Schleck is able to get the chain back on. He lost about 30 seconds. This is right before the descent.
Voeckler is over the top. Sanchez is setting the pace. Schleck is trying to move back up. He’s got no teammates with him. Contador is with Menchov and Sanchez. Vino has been dropped to the other group. Ballan and Perez are over the top. Schleck is with Vino’s group. Contador is making the pace. Schleck makes his move and tries to accelerate away. Vino is trying to follow.
Over the top, Schleck has made up a lot of time. he’s 14 seconds back. It’s the start of the descent. At 15km, Voeckler has 4:23. Sanchez is taking the lead of the descent. He’s a great descender and Contador, as well as Menchov can follow Sanchez. Schleck is alone with Van Der Broeck.
Voeckler almost crashes. He’s taking some big chances. Vino makes it to the back of Schleck’s wheel. Schleck isn’t losing any time, but he’s about 29″ back. Voeckler will win the stage. Contador follows Sanchez.
Perez and Ballan finish 1:15 after Voeckler. Contador finishes 2:49. Schleck finishes 3:28 and Schleck loses the yellow jersey. Kloden and Armstrong finish 4:09 back. Schleck is 8″ behind Contador, Sanchez is 2 minutes behind.