Tour veteran Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey from Team Columbia’s Kim Kirchen in today’s 96-mile duel from Pau to Hautacam. It’s the first time the Australian has worn yellow in his long Tour career.
Saunier Duval teammates Juan Jose Cobo and Leonardo Piepoli sprinted each other for first and second place, two minutes ahead of race favorites Evans, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre, Riccardo Ricco and America’s favorite long-shot, Christian Vandevelde (“V-de-V”). Kirchen was dropped on the final climb and finished two minutes behind that group.
The difficult stage took its toll on the leading contenders. Alejandro Valverde, Damian Cunego and former Tour Champion Oscar Pereiro cracked on the first major mountain, the Col du Tourmalet. They finished more than four minutes behind Evan’s group. Only a miracle or serious doping can help these riders win the Tour now.
Evans is one second ahead of CSC’s Frank Schleck in the overall point standings. V-de-V sits in third overall.
After yesterday’s victory and today’s smart finish, Ricco The Cobra earned the climber polka-dot and white young rider’s jerseys.
With ten hard days of racing over, Tuesday is the first rest day. Whew!