Alberto Contador took a few swings at rival Andy Schleck on the ascent of the Ax-3 Domaines but was unable to crack the Luxembourger. At one point the two were practically doing track stands on the day’s final climb while their rivals Dennis Menchov and Sammy Sanchez sped away. The two overall leaders were not overly concerned with Menchov and Sanchez since they are more than two minutes behind on the General Classification.
After the stage Schleck said tomorrow’s stage over the Port be Bales is more suited to his strengths and that he might take some chances tomorrow. I don’t look for either rider to gain any time on tomorrow’s stage with an almost 22 kilometer descent to the finish. I’m sure it will be a select group but I look for Schleck, Contador, Menchov, and Sanchez and probably a few others to finish together tomorrow. The next decisive stage will be Thursday’s finish atop the Col du Tourmalet.
AG2R’s Christophe Riblon took the win on today’s stage with a valiant solo effort in the Pyrenees. What made his effort even more dramatic is the rider almost abandoned the race the day before. After receiving a pep talk from his team management Riblon said “I felt I had to prove myself today. But I wouldn’t have bet a single Euro on my chances of winning today.”
And prove himself he did. After finding himself alone on the day’s penultimate climb up the Hors Categorie Port de Pailhères, Riblon bombed the descent to begin the final climb with a 2:46 advantage on the charging heads of state.
As Schleck and Contador traded blows with each other, Riblon was being doused with cold water through the window of the team car by his director sportif to prevent him from succumbing to the heat after being in the break for 160 kilometers. In the end it was enough as the Frenchman finished 54 seconds in front of Menchov to take the victory.
After loosing time to Contador a few days ago, a renewed Schleck was confident at the end of today’s stage saying “this is just a guess, but I guess he’s not happy with how the stage went, because he did not gain time on me. His aim was to take yellow today, and Vinokourov even announced it yesterday. It didn’t work. He didn’t gain a single second. I even think I was a little better than him today.”
I look for things to stay as they are until Thursday when there is sure to be a war on the slopes of the Tourmalet.
Thanks for reading,
For more great Tour analysis, visit my good friend Tim Liew @ The Armchair Sportsfan.