Andy Schleck takes ‘most beautiful’ win of his career on the Galibier
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Andy Schleck takes ‘most beautiful’ win of his career on the Galibier

by Shane Stokes at 4:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Leopard Trek rider jumps right back into contention, close to yellow

Andy SchleckSideswiping perceptions in recent days that the Schleck challenge may have been faltering somewhat at the Tour de France, Andy Schleck pulled off a superb victory on today’s second Alpine stage of the race. He jumped right back into contention for the yellow jersey when he hit the summit line at Galibier Serre Chevalier alone, punching the air in confirmation of his dominance.

The Luxembourg climber made his move halfway up the Col d’Izoard, stunning the other GC contenders who thought he was taking too big a risk. He quickly made inroads into the advantage of those who were ahead, joining forces with team-mate Maxime Monfort, who waited and then helped him drive the pace on the descent.

He cut through the break and once on the final climb, he shed Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) and then Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana). He soloed in two minutes and seven seconds ahead of his brother Frank, who jumped out of the contenders’ chase group.

“I am really happy because I decided to take the situation in my hands today and that is what I did,” he said after the stage. “I had to try…maybe I’d succeed, maybe not, but I tried and it was a big success today.”

VeloNation did a video interview with Jens Voigt this morning and while he said that an attack before the final climb was possible, intimated that it would be from someone other than from his own Leopard Trek team. That may well have been a diversion, though, as Andy Schleck confirmed afterwards that it was a premeditated move.

“We had a very precise plan today,” he said. “In the morning briefing we said we would send two riders in the breakaway. We wanted one good rouleur and one good climber in the break. On the Col d’Izoard, I would attack. In cycling you make a lot of plans, but a lot of times there are factors in play that you cannot control. Today, the plan worked out perfectly.”

The rouleur and climber sent up the road were Joost Posthuma and Monfort, who both rode hard to help the break gain time. Their output ultimately helped Schleck to do what he achieved. “Without Maxime and Joost, without this whole team, the victory today could not have been possible,” he said. “Thanks to them I took the stage win. Maxime allowed me to resist the hardest parts leading up to the Galibier and shielded me from the headwinds. He brought me to 17 kilometers from the finish.”

Schleck’s solo drive to the line secured him what he describes as the most beautiful win of his career. However he missed out on taking the race lead by just 15 seconds. He was virtual leader on the road but a surge on the final climb by the chase group – led mainly by a very impressive Cadel Evans – saw the lead reduced to under two and a half minutes. Maillot Jaune Thomas Voeckler battled hard to limit his losses and while he cracked in the final kilometre, he did enough to hold the overall lead. Schleck insisted that he is fine with that…for now.

“It is not a disappointment to miss the yellow jersey. I think that tomorrow is another stage, and after that another one…I have two days left to take over the yellow jersey and I will do everything possible for that.”

Both brothers remain in contention heading towards tomorrow’s stage of Alpe d’Huez. Andy is second, 15 seconds behind Voeckler; Frank Schleck is one place and 38 seconds further back, and is also within reach of the Maillot Jaune.

More attacks will be needed, though; the duo are not strong time trialists, while Evans and possibly Voeckler will be able to do something in Saturday’s Grenoble time trial.

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