Today was another nod to the Classics, as the Tour ended in Mende with an exciting few kilometers where the top climbers separated themselves once again. Alberto Contador was the main story, managing to distance Andy Schleck on a climb for the first time in this year's Tour, while countryman Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha went with the defending champ and took the sprint for the win. Contador's effort overcame his own teammate Alexandre Vinokourov in the final kilometer, after Vino separated from the remnants of the day's breakaway on the Mende ascent.
Schleck remains in yellow, but must have some doubts in his mind, as he gave back ten seconds in a phase of the Tour where he needs to be padding his lead. Meanwhile, Thor Hushovd used a few intermediate sprints to retake the green jersey, and Anthony Charteau overtook Jerome Pineau once again in their two-man battle for the KOM.
The day's other big news is that Tyler Farrar dropped out of the Tour.
Still waiting for an answer as to whether something went wrong today or if it's just the whole broken wrist thing. There are only two sprint stages remaining amongst a week's worth of climbing, so maybe the cost-benefit thing caught up with him. [UPDATE] It's the wrist. Matt White: “Today was the hardest day of the race yet and the kind of climbing and descending these guys did is incredibly painful for an injury like Tyler’s. Having to break on the descents is probably the most painful thing to do with a broken wrist. We’re obviously sad to see him go but at the end of the day, his health comes first. Tyler won’t be able to heal until he goes home and rests and that’s what he’ll do from here. To make it all the way to Stage 12 with the injuries he’s had is something special."
- Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha
- Alberto Contador, Astana, s.t.
- Alexandre Vinojourov, Astana, at 0.04
- Jurgen Ven den Broeck, Omega Pharma, at 0.10
- Schleck, Menchov, Sanchez, Kloden, s.t.
- Gesink, Kreuziger, others at 0.15
- Contador, at 0.31
- Sanchez, at 0.45
- Thor Hushovd, Cervelo, 167 pts
- Alessandro Petacchi, Lampre, 161
- Robbie McEwen, Katusha, 138
- Anthony Charteau, Bbox, 107 points
- Jerome Pineau, Quick Step, 92