Stage 17: Pau to Col du Tourmalet

Rain, heavy mist and fog did not hamper the action from the town of Pau to the summit of Col du Toumalet on Thursday's 174-kilometer Stage 17. On the final day in the Pyrenees of the 2010 Tour de France, Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) led Alberto Contador (Astana) to the top of the Tourmalet where Schleck took his second stage win of the Tour and Contador retained the yellow jersey.

Typical Day In the Mountains

A break of seven including Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Kristjan Koren (Liquigas), Aleksandre Kolobnev (Katusha), Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Remi Pauriol (Cofidis) and Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskatel-Euskadi) had hopes of stealing a stage win on top of the Tourmalet. The teams of the yellow jersey and podium contenders initially allowed the break to form, but 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) made a brave move to reach the breakaway on the penultimate climb of the day.

Meanwhile, at the back of the peloton, at the 24 kilometer mark Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi) hit the deck chest first. Medical staff treated and cleared Sanchez, who sits third in the overall, to remount his bike. In spite of the crash, and in spite of being scolded by Contador, Sastre carried on. As the peloton waited for Shanchez, Sastre and the breakaway gained precious minutes.

After the return of Sanchez to the peloton, Astana and Saxo Bank took control of the race and began to whittle down the gap. Even though there were no podium contenders in the break, Astana and Saxo Bank were looking for the stage win for their riders. On the early slopes of the Tourmalet, all of the breaks were caught including Sastre and the seven.

Two Man Show

The blistering pace set by Fabian Cancellara and Team Saxo Bank early on the Tourmalet dropped even Contador's best man, Alexandre Vinokourov. One-by-one riders popped off the yellow jersey group and it was time to see who the best climber was: Schleck made his first attack, which Contador--and no one else--answered. Schleck and Contador were left to battle it out alone for the remainder of the climb.

Schleck attacked and pushed the pace. Contador attacked, Schleck answered. "I gave it everything today, I tried to attack, I changed rhythm several times to try and drop him and I just couldn't," Schleck said. Contador sat on Schleck's wheel answering each and every surge and attack in step. "The whole time I was really concentrated, and felt pretty confident. Today I had great legs," said Contador.

Just under the 5 kilometer to go mark, Contador made his move. "I tried to attack him but Andy's reaction showed me he was strong," said Contador. Andy caught Alberto and gave him an icy stare, as if to warn him. Schleck resumed control and Contador followed his wheel all the way to the line. The two crossed the line together, while Schleck took the sprint.

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck
Stage winner Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, right, and Alberto Contador of Spain, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, cross the finish line of 17th stage of the Tour de France.
AP Photo/Laurent Rebours

Schleck applauded Contador's gentlemanly conduct at the finish. "In the end I have to say respect to Alberto because he didn't sprint (for the finish) at the end."

Contador played down the fact he has not won any stages in this year's Tour. "There are still some stages left but let's say today it was an important stepping stone (towards the yellow jersey)," said Contador. "I haven't won any stages but my objective was to win the Tour. Some years you win stages, others you don't."

Other Notable Finishes

In an amazing show for the former mountain bike champion, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) crossed the line in fourth at 17 minutes behind the power couple. Ryder moves into eighth place, 9 minutes and 18 seconds behind Contador. American Chris Horner (RadioShack) had an amazing performance finishing the stage in eighth and moving into 10th place in the overall general classification.

No Costume Changes

Andy Schleck remains the best young rider and will continue to wear the white jersey, Contador retains yellow and Anthony Charteau (Quick Step) keeps the polka dots for the best climber. With today's performance, Charteau has sealed the jersey for the Tour as there are no more classified mountains in the Tour.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) wears green into Bordeaux tomorrow maintaining his four point lead over Alessandro Pettachi (Lampre-Farnese-Vini). Two sprint stages remain: Friday's stage into Bordeaux and the final stage into Paris on Sunday.

Stage 17 Results

  1. Andy Schleck (SAX) - 05:03:29
  2. Alberto Contador (AST) +00:00
  3. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (KAT) +01:18
  4. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM) +01:27
  5. Samuel Sanchez (EUS) +01:32
  6. Denis Menchov (RAB) +01:40

Overall Classification

  1. Alberto Contador (AST) 83:32:39
  2. Andy Schleck (SAX) +00:08
  3. Samuel Sanchez (EUS) +03:23
  4. Denis Menchov (RAB) +03:53
  5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (OLO) +05:27
  6. Robert Gesink (RAB) +06:41

U.S. Riders

  10. Christopher Horner (RSH) +10:37
  13. Levi Leipheimer (RSH) +14:24
  23. Lance Armstrong (RSH) +37:58
  60. George Hincapie (BMC) +01:45:30

<!--<h2>Team Standings</h2> <ol> <li>RadioShack 250:44:40</li> <li>Caisse D'Epargne +08:30</li> <li>Rabobank +33:39</li> <li>AG2R La Mondiale +37:58</li> <li>Omega Pharma - Lotto +50:16</li> </ol>-->

Overall Points Standings

  1. Thor Hushovd (CTT) - 191 Points
  2. Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) - 187 Points
  3. Mark Cavendish (THR) - 162 Points

King of the Mountains Jersey

  1. Anthony Charteau (BBO) - 143 Points
  2. Christophe Moreau (GCE) - 128 Points
  3. Andy Schleck (SAX) - 116 Points

Best Young Rider

  1. Andy Schleck (SAX) - 83:32:47
  2. Robert Gesink (RAB) +06:33
  3. Roman Kreuziger (LIQ) +10:04

Complete Standings on LeTour.fr

174K (108.1 miles) - Thursday July 22

  • The Soulor climb is nearly 25 kilometers long
  • The Henri-Desgrange memorial trophy will be awarded at the top of Tourmalet pass--the 2nd time riders will summit Tourmalet
  • Overall placing will not likely change after the riders hit the summit of Tourmalet
  • Sprint Points at: Bidos, Adast
  • Mountain Passes: C?te de Renoir located at 13.5 kilometers - 2.2km climb to 6 percent grade - Category 4; Col de Marie-Blanque at 56.5 kilometers - 9.3km climb to 7.6 percent - Cat. 1; Col du Soulor at 117.5 kilometers - 11.9km climb to 7.8 percent - Cat. 1; Col de Tourmalet at 174 kilometers - 18.6km climb to 7.5 percent - Cat. H

The Route

Tour de France, Prologue mapImage courtesy of www.letour.com

The Profile

Tour de France, Prologue Profile Image courtesy of www.letour.com

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