Frank Schleck wins Tour stage 17. Contador's attack damages Armstrong and Kloden.
The Brothers Schleck attacked two riders. One attack succeeded, the other failed.
Attacking at the base of the Col de Roome, Andy and Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) succeeded in breaking away from Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) gaining time on him before the British time trialer tries to return the favor in Thursdays’ race against the clock.
Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts on the Cole de Colombiere, they couldn’t crack Alberto Contador who stayed epoxyed to their wheels until finally putting in his own attack two kilometers from the summit. The three best climbers in this tour reached the finish line together,with the Spanish rider giving the stage win to Frank Schleck. The joy on Andy’s face showed how close a bond the brothers have.
The loser on the day appeared to be Wiggins and Armstrong, who were both displaced on the overall classification by the dynamic duo from Luxembourg. Wiggins fell to sixth at almost 5 minutes behind the yellow jersey. Although his teammate Christian Vande Velde did everything but push him up the mountain, Wiggins faded. His chance for a podium rests on the time trial and a miracle ride on Ventoux — a tall order for a rider nobody expected to be anywhere near the top 20 when the tour began.
Armstrong, on the other hand, was the victim of yet another ‘unscripted” attack from Contador. Despite Johan Bruyneel’s order to follow wheels, Contador accelerated, dropping his own teammate Kloden and essentially helping the Shlecks jump ahead of Armstrong in the overall. Loyalties seem to be fraying as rumors swirl that Bruyneel and Armstrong will leave Astana to launch a new team. Contador may well feel the jersey is his and there’s no compelling reason to follow team directives.
It could have been worse for Armstrong who again demonstrated his strength, dropping Wiggins near the summit, then bombing the descent to catch Kloden and finish seventh on the stage. Alberto gained more time against Wiggins but severely damaged the chances of an all Astana podium. Not something that Lance or Andreas will appreciate after 2 weeks work.
Armstrong has proven true to his word that he would work for Contador. It’s one thing to know he won’t win an 8th tour but quite another to be knocked completely off the podium by your own guy for no reason. Armstrong said after the Dauphine Libere that Contador “has a lot to learn.” Lance must be tired of saying that by now.