Frank Schleck Wins, Bro Andy Moves Up, Armstrong Moves Down
In the final days of the Tour de France, the race is down to a battle between teams Saxo-Bank and Astana. Saxo’s Frank Schleck won stage 17 called the “queen of stages” because of its extreme difficulty through the Alps. The 103-mile race passed over five large mountaintops but the real trouble started on the penultimate climb where Schleck and his brother Andy attacked the main contenders. Only Alberto Contador in the yellow jersey and his Astana teammate Andrés Klöden were able to stick with the Schlecks.
Astana Mistake One
On the Col de Romme, Lance Armstrong covered repeated attacks from Frank Schleck, but Armstrong’s head was down when Schleck attacked one last time and Armstrong lost the ability to react apparently because of a leg cramp. That was a pivotal moment for Armstrong, a move (or lack of one) that cost him his number two spot in the overall standings.
So, the foursome of Saxo-Bank’s Andy and Frank Schleck and Astana’s Contador and Klöden painfully pushed up the last climb– the steep Col de la Colombiére.
Astana Mistake Two
Then Contador eff’d up. He attacked when the Schleck brothers were right on his wheel and his teammate Klöden was at the rear. Klöden faded back (probably wondering, what the hell?) before the top of the climb but the Schleck brothers had no trouble sticking to Contador. Now Contador was without a teammate to help him in the final descent. “Getting lots of question why AC attacked and dropped Klöden. I still haven’t figured it out either,” Armstrong twittered.
General Standings Shake-up
The Astana mistakes dropped Klöden and Armstrong down in the overall standings and moved the Schleck brothers up in the rankings and more threatening to Contador’s yellow jersey. I bet the chairs will be far apart at Astana’s dinner table tonight.
–Le Tour Babe