Tour de France: Andy Schleck claims yellow jersey as Frenchman Pierre Rolland win latest stage
Friday 22 July 2011
An epic final Alpine stage of the 2011 Tour de France saw Andy Schleck take the race leader's yellow jersey as defending champion Alberto Contador's hopes of a fourth title came to an end.
Contador, racing for Saxo Bank-SunGard, failed to gain enough time on Andy and Frank Schleck (Leopard Trek) during today's 109.5-kilometre 19th stage from Modane Valfrejus to Alpe-d'Huez to make victory after tomorrow's time-trial in Grenoble an unrealistic ambition for the Spaniard.
The two brothers from Luxembourg now top the general classification with Australian Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) in third place and tipped to take the yellow jersey before Sunday's ride into Paris.
And Contador was beaten to victory in today's stage by Pierre Rolland (Europcar) with Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) second, 14 seconds behind, with Contador another nine seconds further adrift.
The two Schlecks were in a group 57secs behind along with Evans as France's Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) relinquished his 10-day hold on the maillot jaune.
Contador began the day four minutes 44 seconds behind Voeckler and 4mins 29secs adrift of Andy Schleck.
Andy Schleck now holds a 53-second lead over his brother Frank Schleck in the overall rankings, with Australian Evans lurking 57 seconds behind, the trio all leapfrogging Voeckler, who finished 3:22 behind today in 20th and now sits fourth overall, 2:10 adrift.
Evans is the superior time-trial rider and was content merely to mark the Schleck brothers throughout the day.
Tomorrow's penultimate day 42.5km against the clock in Grenoble will now likely decide the winner of the maillot jaune, with Sunday's final stage to Paris traditionally one for the sprinters.
It is unlikely to be Contador after a valiant but ultimately doomed bid today.
The Spaniard's participation in the race is highly-controversial as he is next month the subject of a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing into his positive drugs test at last year's Tour.
He protests his innocence, attributing the adverse finding to contaminated meat. Three-time champion Contador attacked 16km into the stage as he sought to reduce his arrears.
Andy Schleck - runner-up to the Spaniard in each of the past two years - marked the move, but he was the only member of the top 10 able to stay with Contador.
The long descent from the Col du Galibier, the day's second climb, allowed the main protagonists to converge before beginning the fabled 21 hairpin bend-finishing ascent to Alpe-d'Huez.
Contador again made a move on the lower slopes to power clear, but Rolland triumphed after timing his counter attack perfectly.
Andy Schleck wore the yellow jersey for six days in 2010 before losing the Tour title to Contador by 39 seconds.
The 26-year-old from Luxembourg marked Contador in the early part of the day before allowing the Spaniard to burst clear on the final climb.
Contador was the long-time leader and even had to swat away a spectator in full surgical dress before he was overtaken by Rolland and Sanchez.
He is now 3:55 behind Andy Schleck, with Evans the real danger to the Luxembourg rider.
Points classification leader Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) rolled in as part of a large group, 25:26 behind.
The time limit was set at 25:09 and it could be that Cavendish and the rest of the grupetto are docked 20 points as they were yesterday.
The good news for Cavendish, though, is that his nearest rival Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was also in the grupetto and if a points penalty is implemented by race organisers the Manxman will retain his 15-point lead.
Latest in Sport
Kevin Garside: Manchester United may have history and tradition but, as David Moyes never realised, a big-time manager always bends such things to his will
Louis van Gaal denies problem with Wilfried Zaha despite Manchester United forward being given no game time
Manchester United latest: Juan Mata emerges as Louis van Gaal's favoured No 10 as prospect of signing Angel Di Maria fails to improve
Arsenal: Arrival of Calum Chambers and David Ospina puts Arsène Wenger's spending past £50m
Tour de France 2014: Vincenzo Nibali confirmed as champion as he puts Italy back on the map with triumph
- 1 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 2 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’
- 5 The Simpsons Family Guy trailer: First look at crossover episode after Comic-Con debut
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a PE...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - Enfield (North London / Hertfor...
£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...