Tour de France: Wiggins in trouble as top two go clear

A lethal alliance composed of the favourites Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck turned the battle for yellow into a two-way duel yesterday on the toughest Alpine climb of the 2010 Tour. While Bradley Wiggins suffered again in the mountains and slid to sixteenth overall, the Spanish champion and his young rival from Luxembourg put clear water between themselves and the pack.

Contador and Schleck blasted away halfway up the 25.5-kilometre Col de la Madeleine, almost instantly converting the rest of the field into also-rans as they opened up a gap of over two minutes by the summit.

The duo then joined a breakaway group close to the finish, and barely disputed the stage win, taken by the Frenchman Sandy Casar. However, crossing the line with a two-minute advantage on the first of their potential rivals for yellow in Paris, Levi Leipheimer who finished 10th, was more than sufficient damage.

Worst affected was the Australian Cadel Evans, forced to cede the overall lead to Schleck in dramatic fashion after he cracked even before the main attacks started. Evans crossed the line sobbing in pain, over eight minutes down, and the reason for such a dramatic debacle later became clear – his right arm, heavily bandaged from a previous crash, was in fact broken.

Whether the Australian could have resisted the joint uphill charge by Schleck and Contador will remain debatable. What is certain is that the Tour is now down to two riders. "From now on, it's Alberto versus me," said the 25-year-old Schleck, the new Tour leader. "I'll have to attack in the Pyrenees if I want to stay ahead of him in Paris, but we made the race today."

Asked about other rivals, Schleck said: "If I was at five or six minutes, I'd try to turn the tables with a long- distance attack." That may be the only option left for Wiggins, now over seven minutes down. The Londoner was far from being alone when he failed to respond to Shleck and Contador's attack, but he was unable to stay with the closest of the chasing groups either.

Wiggins finished 30th, four minutes 55 seconds back. Philosophical rather than bitter, Wiggins said afterwards: "I did my best but there we go, that's life. So much has been put into this that I don't want to give up. We put everything into it, it hasn't worked. It's not because we haven't tried."

He named a top 10 place overall in Paris as a new possible objective, although that will very much depend on his climbing, which so far has been disappointing. Sky officials insisted that there was nothing physically wrong with Wiggins, rather that, as race coach Rod Ellingworth said, "today's stage was one turn of the screw too many".

Asked to identify what exactly had gone wrong, Ellingworth said: "There's been a lot more movement on the climbs, a lot more attacking, and what Bradley is good at is a steady pace."

All of Britain's eight starters remain, although David Millar, riding with two suspected cracked ribs after falling early in the first week, finished dead last yesterday and may be unable to continue.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape