Alberto Contador's Astana team put the screws to the Tour de France today, and Lance Armstrong's historic run of luck (and other qualities) finally ran out, as the American all-time champion crashed twice and lost all hope of a podium place in the process. Andy Schleck had the last laugh, with a late move that gained him the stage win and nine seconds over Contador, who had covered one too many small attacks to follow Schleck. Sammy Sanchez went with Schleck and got pipped at the line.
Armstrong's day turned sour at the foot of the first major climb, where a crash on a roundabout ripped off his saddle, shredded his jersey and some flesh, and left him going full gas to regain contact. He did, but things quickly fell apart on the Col de la Ramaz, and by the middle of the climb to Avoriaz he'd more or less given up.
Bradley Wiggins lost a minute as well, calling into question his Tour ambitions. Cadel Evans just hung on to the Contador group, enough to gain the yellow jersey heading into the rest day. Stage results:
- Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank
- Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel, s.t.
- Robert Gesink, Rabobank, at 0.10
- Roman Kreuziger, Liquigas, s.t.
- Alberto Contador, Astana, s.t.
- Cadel Evans, BMC, s.t.
- Jurgen Van den Broeck, Omega Pharma, s.t.
- Levi Leipheimer, The Shack, s.t.
- Ivan Basso, Liquigas, s.t.
- Denis Menchov, Rabobank, s.t.
General Classification has been utterly transformed, although of course nothing has been decided, not even close.
- Schleck, at 0.20
- Contador, at 1.01
- Van den Broeck, at 1.03
- Menchov, at 1.10
- Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Transitions, at 1.11
- Kreuziger, at 1.45
- Leipheimer, at 2.14
- Sanchez, at 2.15
- Mick Rogers, HTC, at 2.41