Le Tour: Legendary Stage won by Schleck

Stage 18: On the Queen stage of the 2011 Tour de France, Andy Schleck took the race to favourite Cadel Evans with victory on the stage Pinerolo to Galibier-Serre Chevalier.

With an attack that is rarely seen so far from the finish, 60 kilometres, Andy Schleck crossed from the peloton to the break and his teammate before riding everyone off his wheel and winning alone and well clear of the rest of his rivals.

Andy Schleck attacked on the momument of a climb, the Izoard, and it was then left to Cadel Evans, churning a big gear up the steep slopes, on the final climb to do all the chasing as Contador sat in the wheels until he was dropped only to catch up again and then get dropped.

Tactically, it was a shrewd move as Leopard -Trek put Andy Schleck in the box seat whilst his brother Frank had the easy ride, well as easy as it can be on such climbs, marking the other favourites and looking at ease.

It wasn’t until the final kilometre until Andy Schleck looked in trouble and his lead was cut enough to keep Frenchman Thomas Voeckler gritting his teeth and fighting all the way to the line, he kept yellow.

In other news, Mark Cavendish was deducted 20 points for having finished outside the time limit but still holds the green jersey while Geraint Thomas did a great ride to finish 26th on the stage saying later on Twitter, “That was a hard day!! Fortunately I had good legs, unfortunately Rigo was ‘flat’ out of energy. Still all to play for tomorrow!!” David Millar used Twitter to say “Broken. Giro and Giro de France too much. I feel Contadors pain, only much worse because I’m me. First dropped on Agnel. That was cool.”

Cav still in green but only by 15 points now …. Photo credit John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Geraint Thomas, Team Sky: “Rigoberto was struggling from the off with a chest infection today, he went off the back on the second climb but we managed to get him back on, and then he crashed halfway down the descent of it.”

“We were all protecting him though leading onto the Galibier and then myself and Xabi (Zandio) paced him up that final climb. I had to wait for him a few times but it was a matter of trying to get him to the top as quickly as possible and limiting the damage from his rivals for the white jersey.”

“On the bus on the way home he was tired and gutted but he has to remember he’s still in a great position – 15th on GC – and he’s only three minutes off the white jersey so it’s all still to play for. If he gets a good feed and sleep tonight hopefully he’ll be OK again tomorrow and anything can happen.”

Right: Geraint Thomas ealier in the race when the white jersey was on his back. Photo Credit John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Sean Yates, Team Sky Sports Director: “From our point of view it was disappointing in that Rigoberto had a bad day. Geraint helped Rigo as best he could and did a fantastic ride up the Lautaret and then to the finish on the Galibier. Geraint was certainly the team-mate of the day and was able to help Rigoberto limit his losses. Xabi was also a big help, especially on the Izoard; Rigo had got gapped going up there but he helped him get back with the bunch before his crash.”

Other Tweets from an epic day in the mountains …
Cadel Evans: From where I was sitting-that looked like ‘real racing’ to me….bold effective move by a very very strong AS/Leopard.

Cadel speaking on radio said … http://www.bmc-racing.com/fileadmin/files/media/team/audioline/2011/TdF2011Stage18EvansSBS.mp3

His teammanager on radio … http://www.bmc-racing.com/fileadmin/files/media/team/audioline/2011/TdF2011Stage18OchowiczFox.mp3

Mark Renshaw: Today’s stage was just brutal. I love sprinting but stages like today make me want to be a climber.

Matt Goss: That was a hard day, 6.40 riding time, 5000m climbing, 6000+ kj’s, 3 x HC climbs and 2 …. Sore legs! Fill in the space! We climbed 5/8 of everest today! So who works out this time delay business? They have never rode a bike that’s for sure. Only 56 riders finished with in 30min of Andy.

Alberto Contador: Tough day today,these moments no so good are that allowed you to enjoy more the best ones.Thanks everybody.

Previous Stages
STAGE 1 | STAGE 2 | STAGE 3 | STAGE 4 |  STAGE 5 | STAGE 6 | STAGE 7 | STAGE 8 | STAGE 9 | STAGE 10 |
| STAGE 11 | STAGE 12 | STAGE 13 | STAGE 14 | STAGE 15 | STAGE 16 | STAGE 17 |


Results Stage 18

1. Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek 6:07:56
2. Fränk Schleck, Leopard Trek @2:07
3. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team @2:15
4. Ivan Basso, Liquigas-Cannondale @2:18
5. Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar @2:21
6. Pierre Rolland, Team Europcar @2:27
7. Damiano Cunego, Lampre – ISD @2:33
8. Rein Taaramae, Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne @3:22
9. Thomas Danielson, Team Garmin-Cervelo @3:25
10. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin Cervelo @3.31

15. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard      @3.50
19. Nicolas Roche AG2R La Mondiale      @4:58
26. Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling      @7:31
39. Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team      @17:23
96. Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad      @35:40
118. David Millar Team Garmin-Cervelo
124. Thor Hushovd Team Garmin-Cervelo
143. Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling
150. Ben Swift Sky Procycling

1. Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar 79:34:06
2. Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek @15
3. Fränk Schleck, Leopard Trek @1:08
4. Cadel Evans, BMC Racing Team @1:12
5. Damiano Cunego, Lampre – ISD @3:46
6. Ivan Basso, Liquigas-Cannondale @3:46
7. Alberto Contador, Saxo Bank Sungard @4:44
8. Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi @5:20
9. Thomas Danielson, Team Garmin-Cervelo @7:08
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud, AG2R La Mondiale @9:27

Other Key riders
15. Rigoberto Uran Sky Procycling     v 12:46
16. Jelle Vanendert Omega Pharma-Lotto    @  13:08
19. Nicolas Roche AG2R La Mondiale      @16:43
30. Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling      @48:53
53. Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling    v 1:27:05
60. Thor Hushovd Team Garmin-Cervelo  @   1:33:45
63. Jens Voigt Leopard Trek    @ 1:4 29
70. David Millar Team Garmin-Cervelo    @ 1:47:29
74. Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team   @  1:52:14
79. Richie Porte Saxo Bank Sungard   @  1:57:26
123. Fabian Cancellara Leopard Trek   @ 2:42:38
125. Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad    @ 2:43:19
133. Ben Swift Sky Procycling    @ 2:47:42

1. Mark Cavendish HTC-Highroad     300      pts
2. Jose Joaquin Rojas Movistar Team     285
3. Philippe Gilbert Omega Pharma-Lotto     230
4. Thor Hushovd Team Garmin-Cervelo     215

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