Everyone was expecting big things of this final mountain stage, which includes a mountaintop finish at Alpe d’Huez, but no one thought that Contador would attack so early on. He managed to ride away, get caught, and then ride away again while the Schlecks labored on the final climb of Alpe d’Huez. Sanchez brought Rolland up to the front, within a few hundred meters of the finish, and Rolland promptly made a move to distance himself from both Contador and Sanchez to give the French their first stage victory, and it comes from the Europcar team, a French wildcard team, which had held the Yellow Jersey for the last 10 days.
Unfortunately, Voeckler was also on the attack, and stayed a long time in a chase group by himself, which must have drained his energy, because he lost a lot of time on the other favorites. He’s still in 4th position, and now we are left to see what will happen in the individual time trial in Grenoble. Unless Evans rides a superb time trial, Andy Schleck will win the Tour, at least I hope so. Evans could be better at this, and we saw that last year, Contador and Andy Schleck were almost evenly matched.
The stage is 109km in length. Cav lost 20pts in the Green Jersey comp for finishing outside of the elimination time yesterday. Cav was with a group of 87 riders, so they couldn’t eliminate them all. They finished 35min behind Schleck. Rojas finished 2 minutes ahead, so he’s still at 285pts.
The stage starts with the climb of the Col du Télégraphe, a cat 1 climb, followed by the Col du Galibier, a hors-catégorie climb. Then it’s downhill for about 50km before hitting Alpe-d’Huez.
*Et le départ est donné*. Immediately, there is a break.
It’s Hoogerland, Buffaz (Cofidis), Burghardt (BMC), and Urtasun (Euskaltel Euskadi).
Some Sky riders are trying to bridge the small gap. They lost the lead in the White Jersey comp yesterday. Rein Taamarae has the lead, followed by Rolland +33″. Uran is 3:10 behind.
The break quickly swells up to 14 riders. They’ve got 35″ on the peloton. The leaders are joined by Greipel (OLO), Iglinskiy (Astana), Flecha (Sky), Costa (Movistar), Gutierrez (Movistar), Koren (Liquigas), Riblon (AG2R), Pineau (Quick Step), Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Duque (Cofidis).
The lead is 2:32. There are 93.4km left.
Nick Anke Sorenson (Saxo Bank) gets away from the front of the peloton.
It looks like both Evans and Contador want to try and use the same strategy that Leopard Trek used yesterday.
Leopard Trek are at the front of the peloton as they start the climb of the Col du Télégraphe.
Buffaz and Greipel have been already dropped on the climb.
Contador tries to get away, but he’s covered by Andy Schleck. They are just a few seconds ahead of the peloton. There are 93.7km left. Navarro and F. Schleck arrive and they try to leave the peloton. Sorenson goes back to the peloton. Evans is trying to come across. Barredo (Rabobank) also comes ahead.
Burghardt has dropped off the break.
Voeckler leaves the pelt on and joins the little break. He sprinted across as if it was flat.
There is another acceleration but Voeckler keeps pace. Navarro is gone. Barredo is gone. Andy is on Contador’s wheel. Evans, Voeckler have to make up the gap once again. Frank Schleck is dropping back slightly.
This is an interesting move. It might make some of the favorites pop on the way up the climbs. I don’t think that Andy will pop, but I don’t know about Evans and Voeckler.
They’ve already got a minute on the peloton. There are over 30km of climbing coming up combining the Col du Telegraphe and Galibier.
Frank Schleck is back in the peloton. Contador catches up with Burghardt, who tries to join the elite group made out of the four favorites.
They all pass Greipel. The Liquigas team has come to the front of the peloton. They are about 30″ behind the leaders.
The breakaway hits a 7% gradient. There are 12 riders left. Contador is dancing on his pedals. They are 20″ behind the break.
Burdhardt is dropped from the favorites’ group. Contador accelerates away. Evans and Voeckler are dropped as well. Only Schleck is behind him. Evans has a bike problem. He gets a push and tries to get back. Voeckler is by himself.
Contador and Schleck bridge the gap to the break. Evans stops again. There is a problem with his rear wheel. He is joined by Burghardt.
The break is starting to split. Evans changes his bike. Burhardt isn’t far. Voeckler is looking good. He passes some dropped riders.
The riders in the break have trouble believing what they are seeing. Gutierrez and Izagirre join up with Voeckler.
There are 85.7km left. Evans is about to be picked up by the peloton. Voeckler picks up Pineau. It looks like Pineau is helping Voeckler, but Voeckler has trouble now. Voeckler is 30″ behind the leaders. Iglinskiy slips back and rides after Voeckler. Pineau is pacing Voeckler.
Izagirre got the maximum points in the KOM. Schleck wasn’t happy with this move as Contador and Schleck made all of the efforts. Schleck has the lead in the KOM. Voeckler and Pineau are working together. Voeckler is a great descender. The descent is only 4.3km.
Contador wants some of the others in the break to do some pacemaking but they don’t.
Voeckler is about 32″ behind. Duque and Costa are helping out. The leaders start the climb of the Col du Galibier. Hoogerland is dropped. The climb is 16.7km in length. The gap to Voeckler is 25″. The gap to Evans is 1:33.
Voeckler hooks up with Hoogerland and Flecha. Soon, only Flecha is left with Voeckler.
Koren and Duque are dropped from the leaders’ group.
Riblon, Costa and Izagire are still holding onto Schleck and Contador. Frank Schleck is being told to hold Evans’ wheel.
Voeckler and Flecha pick up Duque and Koren. They are slowly dropping. They are at 40″ now.
With 72.5km, the lead is 31″ over Voeckler. The lead over the peloton is 1:37. Voeckler is alone again.
Schleck is helping the break.
Hincapie and BMC are in the front of the peloton. They pick up Flecha.
Voeckler is closing in, slowly. Voeckler is working hard. He is using a huge gear.
Contador looks back a few times and realizes that Voeckler is right back there.
Izagirre is dropped. Riblon is starting to nod a lot, meaning that he’s probably the next to go. Voeckler sees Izagirre a few meters in front.
With 66.7km left, the lead is 1:48. Voeckler has dropped back to 46″. If he stays close enough, he could make up that time on the descent. The descent is almost 50km.
Voeckler has dropped back to 1:02. Voeckler is almost at a standstill. Evans is chasing. Voeckler comes across Evans and Frank Schleck. They are at 1:10.
The pace has split the peloton. The leaders are 3.3km from the top.
Evans gets tired and tries to attack. Charteau tries to keep pace, but they didn’t see Voeckler dropping back. Evans is 51″ behind the leaders.
Evans is with Rolland and Frank Schleck. They are about to pick up Sanchez.
Voeckler is 1:18 back. Evans is closing in. Andy Schleck has spotted Evans. Contador sees it as well. They pick up the pace.
Evans, Rolland, Frank Schleck are 34″ back. Andy Schleck goes over the top 1st. Contador is 2nd.
They have started the descent. Voeckler takes a bottle from the team car and throws it to the ground. Voeckler has got 3 teammates with him. They are 1:36 back.
Contador is sitting at the back. These are the same roads they used yesterday to summit the Galibier.
Evans is 28″ back. Hesjerdal is in the front of that group, who’s descending quite well and fast.
The gap is down to 18″.
Sanchez is 15″ back of the leaders. Evans is 33″ back. Sanchez is descending nicely. He’s taking good risks. He is on the back of the leaders. Sanchez is doing well.
Casar is pacing for Evans.
Sanchez bridges the gap and is on the back of the leaders. Evans has dropped back to 22″.
There are 32.2km left. Evans is losing ground, slowly but surely. Their pace has slowed somewhat.
Voeckler and his team have pulled back the gap to 1:33.
The Evans chase group is now 13″ behind the leaders.
Sanchez and Costa have eased up the back of the leaders. The Evans group join up with the leaders. There are 25km left.
Rolland attacks and leaves. Riblon also does the same. The Schlecks, Evans, and Contador are following.
There are 22.1km left. Hesjerdal is also in the front. Voeckler is about 1:05. He’s only 45″ behind the Schlecks.
Hesjerdal is almost on Rolland. Rolland slowed down. Costa, Riblon, and Jeanneson are also chasing. The peloton is 51″ back.
The peloton has swooped up all of the chase groups. Hesjerdal and Rolland are leading.
Leopard Trek come to the front to pace. Evans has made a small gap. Andy Schleck and Voeckler come after. The Schlecks are coming across, or at least trying too. Evans isn’t that far. They aren’t getting away. They are only a few seconds in front. The Leopard Trek riders bring him back.
There are 12.6km left. Leopard Trek are in front. Contador attacks. Schleck is on the wheel of Fugelsan. Schleck bridges the gap and Evans is on his wheel.
Contador moves ahead a bit again. He uses the bends to accelerate. Schleck and Evans are trying to follow, but Contador has gone ahead.
Contador comes across Hesjerdal and Rolland. Schleck isn’t far behind. Contador goes ahead and Rolland follows.
Contador leaves Rolland behind. Schleck and Evans catch Hesjerdal. They are 36″ behind Contador. Voeckler is 1:21 behind.
There are riders catching up to Andy Schleck. Frank Schleck is part of those. 10km to go. He’s got 33″.
Frank Schleck makes a move. Evans follows as does Andy Schleck.
Rolland is 19″ behind Contador. Schleck is 32″ back.
Velits from HTC makes an attack. Sanchez tries to follow.
There are 7.7km left.
Sanchez picks up Rolland. They are 27″ from Contador. The Schlecks are 58″ back.
With 7km left, Contador is at 56″. Sanchez is at 28″.
5km left. Sanchez is at 20″. The Schlecks are at 1:03. Contador whacks a fan dressed up as a surgeon, probably implying that Contador is a doper.
The gradient is 11.5%.
Schleck is talking to Evans. Evans says no. Contador has got 16″ over Sanchez. There are 3.5km left. Sanchez will catch Contador.
3km left. There is an attack by Cunego. Sanchez has brought Rolland to Contador, and immediately Rolland makes a move. Contador follows. This infighting will slow them down. They are all over the road, trying to match themselves.
Evans tries to make a move, but he’s closely matched by Schleck. They are off from their chase group. They are quickly catching up with Cunego. Rolland has dropped Contador and Sanchez.
2km left. Cunego is back on the wheel of Evans. Frank Schleck isn’t far behind.
Sanchez and Contador are shouting at each other. They are chasing Rolland. The gap is 11″.
1km left. This might be the first French win. Evans goes again, but Schleck is right there.
Sanchez drops Contador. It’s either that or Contador slowed down too much for Sanchez.
Rolland sprints to the finish. Sanchez is 2nd. Contador is 3rd. Schleck was sprinting as well. Velits is next, Evans is next.
Garmin Cervelo probably wins the team comp. The elimination time is 25 minutes. Voeckler comes in at 3:21.
Contador got 34″ on the Schlecks.
1. Andy Schleck
2. Frank Schleck +53″
3. Evans +57″
4. Voeckler +2:10
5. Cunego +3:31
6. Contador +3:55
7. Sanchez +4:22
8. Basso +4:40
9. Danielson +7:11
10. Rolland +8:57
Cav and Rojas finished outside the time limit, so they are standing at 280pts and 265pts.
Garmin Cervelo has got a 11:48 lead over AG2R so they’ll probably win the team comp.
Sanchez takes the lead in the KOM comp with 108pts, followed by Andy Schleck, who’s got 98pts. Vanendert has got 74pts.
Rolland takes the lead in the White Jersey comp, with a lead of 1:33 over Rein Taaramae from Cofidis.