Tour de France - Schleck takes yellow from Evans

Eurosport - Tue, 13 Jul 17:30:00 2010

Andy Schleck claimed the leader's yellow jersey as Cadel Evans snapped on stage nine of the Tour de France, won by Sandy Casar in St Jean de Maurienne.

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World champion Evans lost a large amount of time on the Col de la Madeleine as Schleck and defending champion Alberto Contador asserted their authority on the race by dropping their main rivals on the 25km Hors category climb.

They caught a four-man lead group, that was the remnants of a day-long break, in the final kilometre but France's Casar of FDJ beat Caisse d'Epargne's Luis Leon Sanchez and Damiano Cunego of Lampre in the sprint.

Contador and Schleck crossed in sixth and seventh place respectively with the 25-year-old climber from Luxembourg, runner-up to the Spaniard last year, holding a 41-second advantage in the overall standings.

After the rest day, the riders faced four classic Alpine ascents with 66km of climbing - the most of any stage in the 2010 race - as they travelled 204.5km from Morzine-Avoriaz.

An 11-man escape group formed early on and featured Casar and Sanchez plus Christophe Moreau and Anthony Charteau who finished fourth and fifth.

Former Giro d'Italia winner Cunego, along with Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), bridged the gap to the lead group that also included Jerome Pineau (Quick Step), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Johannes Frohlinger (Team Milram), Cyril Gautier (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Caisse d'Epargne's Jose Ivan Gutierrez as the 12 men crossed the category one Col de la Colombičre, the cat-two Col des Aravis and the cat-one Col des Saisies in the first half of the stage with a healthy lead.

Sanchez was in virtual yellow as they hit the bottom of the Madeleine climb, which has an average gradient of 6.2 per cent, with a lead of just over six minutes.

With eight kilometres of the ascent remaining a devastating turn of pace from Contador's team-mate Daniel Navarro caused carnage with Australia's Evans distanced.

The final quarter of La Madeleine is steep and demanding and Contador and Schleck left all in their wake, picking up the breakaway riders one by one in the process.

Charteau, who inherited the polka dot jersey, was first at the summit of the Col de la Madeleine with 32km remaining and he was accompanied by Cunego, Sanchez and Casar while Contador and Schleck followed around two minutes behind.

Contador and Sanchez reduced the deficit on the fading breakaway to 1:25 on the 20km descent, as they picked up Moreau, and eventually caught the lead quartet just after the Flamme Rouge.

However, Casar had the quickest turn of pace over the final metres to claim his third Tour de France stage win, following successes in 2007 and 2009.

Samuel Sanchez, who came close to catching Contador and Sanchez on the descent, crossed the line 52 seconds back in eighth and he moves up from ninth to third on GC, 2:52 behind Schleck who won the 189km eighth stage in the ski resort of Avoriaz on Sunday.

Russia's Denis Menchov, who crossed in the third group on the road along with Rabobank team-mate Robert Gesink and de-facto Radioshack leader Levi Leipheimer, climbs one place to fourth at 3:31.

Juergen Van den Broeck is now fifth with the Omega-Pharma Lotto rider part of the next group along with seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, who lost 11:45 on Sunday, and Giro d'Italia champion Ivan Basso.

Briton Bradley Wiggins finished 4:55 adrift while Evans, who was runner-up to Contador in 2007 and Carlos Sastre in 2008, eventually crossed the line over eight minutes behind the winner to effectively end his pursuit of an elusive Grand Tour title with it being later revealed that he was riding with a fractured elbow.

While Andy Schleck matches his brother Frank, who wore yellow in 2008, his 41-seconds advantage is not enough for the Saxo Bank rider to sit back and defend as he is likely to lose time to Contador on the final time trial, a 52km effort from Bordeaux to Pauillac on Saturday week.

  • Tour de France : Stage 9
Lee Walker / Eurosport

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