Tour de France

Schleck takes yellow

2011-07-22 18:22
Andy Schleck (AFP Photo)

Alpe d-Huez - Frenchman Pierre Rolland of the Europcar team won the 19th stage of the Tour de France, a 109.5 km ride from Modane to the summit of Alpe d'Huez on Friday.

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, of Leopard-Trek, took possession of the yellow jersey from Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who lost over two minutes on the final climb of the race.

In a stage marked by daring attacks from reigning champion Alberto Contador on the first and last climbs of the day, Schleck took the overall lead for the first time in the race by 53secs from his older brother Frank.

However in what could prove to be a fatal blow for the Luxemburgers Australian Cadel Evans, who refused to budge during another epic performance, sits in third place only 57secs off the lead.

Evans is considered the strongest time triallist in the current top ten. The penultimate stage of the race is a 42.5 km time trial around Grenoble on Saturday.

Contador attacked on the Col du Telegraphe after just 15km of racing and then after being caught attacked at the foot of the 13.8 km climb to the summit of Alpe d'Huez.

The Saxo Bank leader looked to be heading for the stage win that would have made amends for his spectacular collapse on Thursday.

But as the climb's legendary 21 hairpin bends began to take their toll he was eventually caught by fellow Spaniard Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel and Rolland with 3km to race.

Rolland then went off on his own with 2km from the finish and soloed across the line to savour his maiden win on the race and the first for the hosts on the 98th edition.

Sanchez finished second at 14sec with Contador third at 23.

Evans pulled himself over the line 56 behind Rolland, and just ahead of the Schleck brothers, after a performance which -- if he triumphs on Saturday -- is likely to play a decisive role in him winning the Tour.

Contador is now sixth overall at 3:55 behind leader Schleck.

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