Schleck Beats Contador by a Foot in Tour de France Stage 17

By James Fish, Epoch Times
July 22, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015
Andy Schleck (R) celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage 17 of the 2010 Tour de France ahead of Alberto Contador. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)
Andy Schleck (R) celebrates on the finish line as he wins Stage 17 of the 2010 Tour de France ahead of Alberto Contador. (Pascal Pavani/AFP/Getty Images)

Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador went head-to-head on one of the hardest climbs in the Tour de France, and fought to a draw.

Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck won the race by a foot, but he failed to win the yellow jersey. Astana’s Alberto Contador was unable to drop Schleck on the climb, but he preserved his eight-second lead, which should be enough to guarantee the top of the podium in Paris.

“I’m satisfied with the stage win, but I also wanted to turn white into yellow,” Andy Schleck told LeTour.fr. “Unfortunately it wasn’t possible.

“I really tried hard, you have to believe me about that. I changed rhythm and I tried everything but I think we’re on the same level on the climbs.

“Alberto attacked and I could go with him—it was a quick response—but in the end he didn’t sprint to win the stage because I did the most work. I have a lot of respect for that; it shows that he’s a great champion.”

The two riders left everyone else far behind; they showed their supremacy in the cycling world. In the end, Alberto Contador’s ability to ride a time trial will probably give him the Tour win, but no longer can he be called the best climber in the world; now his is one of the two best.

Sastre Attacks

After intense heat through most of the Tour, the weather brought rain and cold and then intense fog for Stage 17. After an overnight deluge soaked all of the campers waiting along the route, the rain slackened by morning, and stopped halfway up the first climb, to be replaced by fog so think riders couldn’t see the road ahead.

Stage 17 started with an almost immediate break of seven riders. This drew no reaction until, Cervelo’s Carlos Sastre decided to join them.

18 kilometers in, third-place Euskatel ride Sammy Sanchez crashed quite hard. Eventually a doctor got him up; he had suffered a severe blow to the chest and a gashed elbow, but was eventually able to continue.

As Sanchez was back in the middle of the peloton trying to get up, Cervelo’s Carlos Sastre launched an attack at the front. Behind him word worked forward that a contender had crashed, and Alberto Contador slowed the peloton, giving Sanchez time to catch up. Despite his injuries, the Euskatel rider finished fifth, preserving his third place in the GC, but the slow-down gave Sastre time to open a small gap.

Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour de France and only 9:02 back, in fifteenth place, represented too big a threat to the established order—the Tour leaders couldn’t let him get into a breakaway and gain back all that time. So Astana, with help from Omega-Pharma-Lotto and Rabobank, chased him hard, and caught him near the foot of the final climb.

It was a bold move, the Cervelo rider came within 1:20 of bridging of the lead group. Had he gotten away, he could have put himself in contention for a podium position.

With Sastre caught, there was nothing left on the peloton’s mind but the battle for the yellow jersey. The riders in the breakaway were all an hour or more back. They didn’t matter. All that mattered was, when would Andy Schleck attack, and how many times, and could Alberto Contador match him?

The Battle on the Tourmalet

Saxo Bank came to the head of the peloton at the foot of the Tourmalet, lifting the pace even higher. Astana lost Alexandre Vinokourov, then Daniel Navarro, as Saxo Bank’s Fabian Cancellara, Chris Anker Sorenson, and Jakob Fuglsang drove the peloton up the ever-steepening climb.

With ten kilometers to go, Andy Schleck moved to the front of the peloton and accelerated away, with Alberto Contador right on his tail. The pair dropped everyone, climbing at a terrific pace. Within a kilometer-and-a-half, they caught Katusha’s Kolobnev, who had had a minute advantage.

Andy Schleck didn’t try any attacks; he just rode fast, very fast, up the eight percent grade, up the steeper ramps around the corners, determined to bury Alberto Contador. But Alberto Contador can climb as well as anyone, and he was not going to let Andy Schleck ride away.

With four kilometers to go Andy Schleck eased for a moment, possibly discouraged that Contadior was still right on his wheel. After a few moments, Contador, thinking Schleck was done, made a vicious acceleration, the kind that has always dropped every other rider.

Andy Schleck responded immediately; if he couldn’t drop Contador, neither would he be dropped. Schleck matched the move and moved back to the front, but he didn’t dare attack, for fear he couldn’t match the counterattack.

Meter by meter, the pair climbed through the dense fog, until the final hundred meters. Contador drew even with Schleck with two corners to go, stayed level around the final corner, but Andy Schleck pushed ahead by about a foot at the finish line to win the stage.

Contador allowed Schleck the stage win, knowing he will almost certainly win the 2010 Tour. This was a grand gesture by the Spanish rider, perhaps in part to make up for taking advantage on Stage Fifteen.

“El Pistolero [Contador] is strong, huh? I could no drop him," Schleck said. "I wanted to find out if he was getting weak but he didn’t succumb. He even attacked me to show, ‘Hey, listen young boy, I’m still here! You better stop playing these games with me.’

“I’m super happy to win this stage today—it’s the Queen stage of this year’s Tour. To win on the Tourmalet is like a win on Alpe d’Huez.

“When I turned to talk to him, I said: ‘You pass?’ And he didn’t. I would have done the same. Why should he pass me? In the end, he let me win the stage and I’m super happy.”

Andy Schleck will probably not win his first Tour this year, but he has proven that at 25 years of age, he is better than anyone else—save one. Surely his day will come, and soon.

And Alberto Contador, though he could not defeat Andy Schleck, has almost certainly won his third Tour de France. Contador is the best time trialist in the Tour, and barring a crash will win the Tour by a few minutes.

Stage Seventeen promised a great battle, and it delivered. The two best cyclists in the world went head-to-head on the climb up the Tourmalet, and neither could decisively defeat the other.

The two giants wrestled, and neither could pin the other, but they gave their best efforts, and showed that they stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Stage 17 2010 Tour de France

 

Rider

Team

Time

1

Andy Schleck

Saxo Bank

5h 03:29

2

Alberto Contador

Astana

+ 00:00

3

Joaquin Rodriguez

Katusha

+ 01:18

4

Ryder Hesjedal

Garmin

+ 01:27

5

Samuel Sanchez

Euskatel-Euskadi

+ 01:32

6

Denis Menchov

Rabobank

+ 01:40

7

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

+ 01:40

8

Christopher Horner

Radio Shack

+ 01:45

9

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Omega Pharma-Lotto

+ 01:48

10

Roman Kreuziger

Liquigas

+ 02:14

11

Damiano Cunego

Lampre

+ 03:00

12

Nicolas Roche

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 03:26

13

Andréas Klöden

Radio Shack

+ 03:30

14

John Gadret

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 03:35

15

Kanstantsin Sivtsov

HTC-Columbia

+ 03:44

16

Steve Morabito

BMC

+ 03:58

17

Lance Armstrong

Radio Shack

+ 04:12

18

Carlos Barredo

Quicck Step

+ 04:16

19

Vasil Kiryienka

Caisse d’Epargne

+ 04:27

20

Luis-Leon Sanchez

Caisse d’Epargne

+ 04:27

 

General Classification after Stage 17

 

Rider

Team

Time

1

Alberto Contador

Astana

83:32:39

2

Andy Schleck

Saxo Bank

+ 00:08

3

Samuel Sanchez

Euskatel-Euskadi

+ 03:32

4

Denis Menchov

Rabobank

+ 03:53

5

Jurgen Van Den Broeck

Omega Pharma-Lotto

+ 05:27

6

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

+ 06:41

7

Joaquin Rodriguez

Katusha

+ 07:03

8

Ryder Hesjedal

Garmin

+ 09:18

9

Roman Kreuziger

Liquigas

+ 10:12

10

Christopher Horner

Radio Shack

+ 10:37

11

Luis-Leon Sanchez

Caisse d’Epargne

+ 12:46

12

Ruben Plaza Molina

Caisse d’Epargne

+ 13:01

13

Levi Leiphemer

Radio Shack

+ 14:24

14

Andréas Klöden

Radio Shack

+ 14:44

15

Nicolas Roche

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 16:00

16

Alexandre Vinokourov

Astana

+ 17:57

17

John Gadret

AG2R la Mondiale

+ 17:59

18

Thomas Lovvkist

Sky

+ 18:30

19

Kevin de Weert

Quick Step

+ 20:03

20

Daniel Moreno

Omega Pharma-Lotto

+ 25:23

 

 

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