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TdF’10 St.8: Andy Gets His First!

Race Report: The first day in the Alps provided a week’s worth of suspense and drama. Andy Schleck took his first career Tour stage win, Lance’s dreams of #8 crumbled to dust, Contador looked fallible, and on and on and on. Let’s take a closer look.

Andy Schleck took his first career Tour de France stage win following a powerful attack in the final kilometer that saw the two-time best young rider at the Tour distance all of his rivals save for a determined Sammy Sanchez.

Schleck’s move put Contador into immediate difficulty. The two-time Tour de France champ was on Schleck’s wheel, but could not answer the challenge. The end result was a paltry loss of ten seconds, but the big question now is: is that a sign of things to come?

Sunday’s eighth stage took the riders from La Rousses to the alpine stronghold of Morzine-Avoriaz. Riders faced two big climbs – the first, the Col de la Ramaz, coming at 140 or so kilometers into the stage. Immediately following the climb of the Ramaz, came a quick category three climb, then it was on to the main course – the category one ascent to Morzine-Avoriaz.

The day’s break went 30 kilometers into the stage and included Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Koos Moernhout (Rabobank), Benoit Vagrenard (FdJ), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d’Epargne), Sebastien Minard (Cofidis), and Amael Moinard (Cofidis).

For Lance Armstrong, his dreams of an eighth Tour de France crumbled before his eyes. The seven-time Tour de France winner was involved in three different crashes. The luck tht graced Armstrong’s seven wins has forsaken him in 2010, and he now sits a dozen minutes adrift of new leader, Cadel Evans.

When Armstrong was put into trouble on the Ramaz, Astana took control of the front of the field and did all they could to punish Armstrong as much as possible. They succeeded.

On the final climb, Contador’s ace domestique, Daniel Navarro, a recent stage winner at the Dauphine, put in a tremendous show of power to lead the way for the favorites all the way to the final kilometer. By the time he was done, the group of favorites was down to a bakers dozen.

When Navarro swung off though, thinks began to get shaky for Contador. The attacks that had miraculously been held off by a combination of the wind and Navarro’s frenetic pace at the front, finally came. Contador was able to respond to the first feints, but when Andy Schleck attacked, he had nothing.

Olympic champion, Sammy Sanchez, was able to go with Schleck and even take up the pacemaking to the line. Sanchez might have been a bit over eager and missed a golden opportunity at a stage win after Schleck took up residence on his back wheel. On the line, it was Schleck who got the better of Sanchez, and both were able to cash in on 10 seconds between their finish and the desperate chase from behind.

Sylvain Chavanel had a second try in yellow today, but once again, his stint in yellow was limited to just one day. He came in just ahead of the limping Armstrong group. Cadel Evans assumes the race lead and becomes the first World Champion to wear the yellow jersey since Tom Boonen in 2006.

For Armstrong, his woes were just beginning. He had an army of reporters waiting to ask one question: what happened?

Tomorrow is a well deserved rest day for the Tour. After that, two more days in the Alps await the riders.

Stage 8 Results
1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 4:54:11
2 Samuel Sбnchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
3 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:10
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack
9 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
10 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
11 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
12 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC – Columbia 0:00:20
13 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:39
14 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions 0:01:14
15 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step

Stage 8 General Classification
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 37:57:09
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:20
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:01:01
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma 0:01:03
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:01:10
6 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions 0:01:11
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:45
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:02:14
9 Samuel Sбnchez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:15
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC – Columbia 0:02:31
11 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:02:37
12 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:02:40
13 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:41
14 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky 0:02:45
15 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:03:05

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