Saturday, 10 July 2010

Schleck tastes victory as Armstrong tastes the tarmac

Andy Schleck triumphed in the second day of the Alpine stages of this year's Tour. The proud younger brother of Luxembourg National Champion Frank, who had earlier been forced to abandon after a serious crash on the pave resulted in a broken collarbone, edged past rival Sammy Sanchez to cross the line ahead of World Champion, Cadel Evans. Evans was rewarded for his efforts, ending the day in the Maillot Jaune and 20 seconds ahead of the young stage victor who remained the leader of the Young Riders Competition. Evans last wore the in Stage 14 of the 2008 Tour de France. He relinquished the prestigious jersey at the end of that day, and would eventually finish the race second overall behind Saxo Bank rider Carlos Sastre.

Having earlier crashed, the Australian rider faired better than his GC rival, and 7 times Tour winner, Lance Armstrong. The Radio Shack Team Captain had suffered not one, but three set backs including two crashes, the second of which came at the foot of the Col de la Ramaz. Struggling to regain ground and make contact with the main bunch, despite four team mates coming back to help him, the rider who has recently been dogged with yet more allegations of using PED for much of his career, was forced to admit his attempt at making his final Tour his 8th Tour victory was almost certainly over.

Armstrong and Evans were not the only ones to go down in the first crash of the day, which occured shortly after the off, as King of the Mountains leader, and yesterday's Most Combatative Rider, Pineau (QST) was brought down to the ground. This was a pity for the brave rider who had yesterday worked so hard to collect all the points available to remain in the polka dot jersey.

British GC favourite, Bradley Wiggins, worked tirelessly in the final climb despite the incredible pace Astana were forcing from the front of the pack that had earlier done well to bring back a breakaway of 3 riders. Within the final 10km of the race however, the pace became too much, as he slipped off the back of the leading bunch. Finishing ahead of Armstrong's group, he lost time but could still do well later if he is able to recover well tomorrow from the hard work he has put in over the last two days.

The repos tomorrow will give a welcome respite before the race heads to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, where the Croix-de-Fer, Télégraphe, Lautaret, Madeleine, Glandon, Iseran, Mont-Cenis and Galibier mountain passes have always made it a natural cycling area. The start of a stage in 2006, the Savoyard city has this year be granted the honour of hosting a stage finish. The route of Stage 9 will see the peloton acsend the Hors Categorie climb of the Col de la Madeleine. With no summit finish, he GCd favourites might not want to attack to avoid finding themselves alone on the flat, which means a big battle is an unlikely scenario. That said, those who are not good downhill riders could lose Le Tour in the finish to this stage. The final Alpine stage on Wednesday will see the peloton carve out the less arduous route from Chambéry to Gap to celebrate the 150th anniversary of France annexing Savoy.

No comments :

Post a Comment