In the week leading up to today’s difficult mountain stage in the Tour de France, there’s been a lot of talk about who team Astana would make its race leader. Today, Alberto Contador earned that spot. The Spaniard shot off the peloton like a pistol in the final climb of the 139-mile race from Barcelona to Andorra. The major race contenders– Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, Denis Menchov, Carlos Sastre and Christian Vande Velde– tried to grab Contador’s wheel but couldn’t catch him. Lance Armstrong didn’t contest his teammate and stayed behind Evans. “Like I’ve said all along, my obligation is to the team,” Armstrong told reporters after the race.
Contador started the day in third place in the overall standings, 19 seconds behind Armstrong. The bold move on the road to Arcalis ski area puts Contador two seconds ahead of Armstrong.
Contador’s performance overshadowed the spectacular race up the road between nine men who escaped the peloton early in the day. Brice Feillu of France won the stage– an amazing feat considering this is his first time in the Tour. Many guys dream of racing in this competition. It’s unheard of that first-timers win stages. At the top of the mountain, Feillu received congratulations from his proud, older brother and teammate Romain, who finished 28 minutes behind him.
Fabian Cancellara, who wore the yellow jersey since the Tour started six days ago, suffered two flat tires and may have tired himself out trying to catch back onto the peloton. Once the main field hit the final climb, Cancellara fell back and finished nine minutes after the stage winner and six minutes after the main race contenders… conceding the maillot jaune.
Moving into the yellow jersey is Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini— another rider celebrating his first time in the Tour de France. What a day for the cycling history books!
Contador showed he is deserving of the yellow jersey. But it’s too early to say who will win the Tour de France. With more than seven hundred miles covered, there are still two weeks left in the bike race, and anything can happen. The Tour continues tomorrow in the Pyrenees.
–Le Tour Babe