It had to happen this week because it was simply the last week for it to happen. Finally, Andy Schleck makes a move, which was cunningly put together. At the time, there were already two Leopard Trek riders in the breakaway. Jens Voigt and Stuart O’Grady were doing some hard pacing, having taken it up a notch from what Europcar was doing. Contador was in the back and they were climbing the Col d’Izoard. There were 60km to go and Schleck launched his attack. At one time, the lead was up to 4:24. Slowly but surely, he caught up with all of the splintered groups and beat them. His two teammates served as a jumping point. Monfort stayed with him for the longest. In the end, the blistering chase was led by Evans, who managed to get back a lot of time on Schleck, but not enough. It was just enough for Voeckler to remain in the Yellow Jersey by 15″. This will make it an interesting stage tomorrow.
I expected the favorites to make a move, and they did, however the aggressive move by Contador and Sanchez didn’t distance the Schlecks, as they time trialed their way back to them and caught up with them. They finished in the same time, so Contador didn’t really get any time on them. However, this did put a lot of pressure on the peloton, and actually forced Voeckler to make some key mistakes on the way down the Côte de Pramartino. He misread one corner, the same corner that caused Hivert to crash a few minutes earlier, and went into the same car park as Hivert. While Voeckler didn’t crash, he lost precious time on the Schlecks, Contador and Evans (27″). It was strange because he lost time on the descent, not the climb.
The effort that Contador and Sanchez put in was substantial, however the Schlecks were in a small group, so they might actually try and break Contador tomorrow. They don’t have much time left, because there are only two stages left before the time trial in Grenoble.