Tour de France: Chavanel turns up the heat to climb into yellow

France's Sylvain Chavanel returned to top spot yesterday after a trademark lone attack through the Jura mountains that sent the former leader Fabian Cancellara reeling.

The yellow jersey wearer for 24 hours after his victory in the Ardennes on stage two, Chavanel regained it by repeating his previous strategy – a solo move that pre-empts any skirmishing by the overall contenders. Yet again, it worked to perfection, with the 31-year-old tearing away from the pack 30 kilometres from the finish, close to the summit of the fifth of six classified climbs.

At the other end of the peloton, the Tour's six-day leader Cancellara was in serious trouble for the first time in this year's race in the intense heat. After a kilometre's more climbing, it was game over. The Swiss rider briefly regained contact with the main chasing peloton, but after another acceleration at the front, Cancellara was out of it.

The winner of the opening prologue and the race leader for nearly a week, Cancellara decided to cut his losses and eased back completely. On the last ascent – another relentless climb through pine trees and mountain pastureland – he chatted to team-mates, not looking worried about losing the yellow jersey.

As for the man who was set to replace him as leader, five kilometres from the finish Chavanel passed the last survivor from an earlier breakaway, his French team-mate Jérôme Pineau, and was well on his way to a second stage win. His final advantage of 57 seconds over Rafael Valls of Spain and 1min 47sec on the main pack would have been far wider, had it not been for some unexpected and intriguing attacking between the favourites.

After Saxo Bank had maintained a high rhythm at the foot of the final 14-kilometre climb to the Stations des Rousses in near 40C heat, Alberto Contador's Astana squad swung into action. The Kazakh team's move, so early in the race, was more than surprising, until it emerged that one of arch-rival Lance Armstrong's key support riders, Andreas Klöden, had been dropped. Contador and Astana jumped at the chance of eliminating the German veteran, twice a podium finisher in the Tour, who finally lost over two minutes.

The radical increase in pace at the front of the bunch saw it shrink to less than three dozen riders, containing almost all of the main favourites, including Britain's Bradley Wiggins. The Sky leader moved up the rankings as a result, from 14th to 11th overall – not a major advance, but an encouraging omen for the race's next two days in the Alps.

However, his team-mate Geraint Thomas plummeted from second to 31st overall. Things were already looking bad for Thomas after Chavanel made his move on the second last climb. But the final nail in the coffin proved to be Astana's late acceleration, which proved too much for the 24-year-old Thomas to handle.

Five kilometres from the summit, as the peloton shrank yet again, Thomas dropped back. The Welshman finally lost over five minutes, although his courageous defence of his second place overall for nearly a week raises hopes that he will in future be back at the business end of affairs in the Tour de France.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power