Stage 17 photo gallery>>

Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank) enjoyed the best day of his 11-year career at Alpe d?Huez on Wednesday, winning the stage with a lone attack on the legendary climb and pulling on the yellow jersey for the first time.

Sastre took the jersey from team mate Frank Schleck and lead the lanky rider from Luxembourg by 1-24. Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) is third at 1-33 and Cadel Evans (Silence) is fourth at 1-34.

?I knew I had to attack from the bottom because if not I wouldn?t have gained enough time on Menchov and Evans. I?ve suffered a lot but it?s all been worth it in the end,? Sastre said.

?We knew we had to attack but going from a long way out was too risky, so we pushed up the rhythm as much as possible during the stage so everybody would get to the final climb after suffering a lot.?

Sastre won in Plateau Bonsacre in the 2003 Tour de France and waved a dummy as he crossed the line, dedicating the win to his daughter.

?My daughter was 18 months old when I showed the dummy, but this time I want to dedicate everything to my family again. For now I just want to enjoy this day and celebrate it all with my team-mates. I won?t be thinking about Saturday just yet.”

Sastre’s attack has set up a incredible showdown in the Tour’s penultimate 53km time trial stage on Saturday. Evans is a far stronger rider against the clock than Sastre or Schleck, but he will have to ride the time trial of his life to pull back enough time to snatch the yellow jersey for the promenade into Paris on Sunday.

FINAL DAY IN THE ALPS
As expected the 210.5km stage was another battle of nerves and seconds. The racing suffered because of the close overall standings and general tiredness of the riders but it was a nerve-wracking final mountain stage that left it difficult to predict a final winner.

Strong winds on the Col du Galibier and the Col du la Croix de Fer slowed the peloton and also condemned the early attackers as CSC again controlled the peloton with Stuart O?Grady, Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt doing massive amounts of work on the front.

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) finally showed he is human by blowing up in big style after getting in the early break along with Remy Di Gregorio (Francaise des Jeux), Peter Velits (Milram) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel).

Di Gregorio was dropped first from the move, on the descent of the Col du Telegraph and then Schumacher was caught on the Croix de Fer. Velits and Pineau stayed away until L?Alpe d?Huez but were swept up as Sastre attacked to set up what will probably be the closest ever final Tour de France podium.

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE 17 RESULTS
1. Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank

2. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2m 3secs
3. Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at same time
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 2m 13secs
5. Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at same time
6. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Ag2r at 2m 15secs
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto
8. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
9. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle
10. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner all at same time.
British
31. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 11m 41secs
118. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle at 38m 0secs

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 17
1. Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank

2. Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at 1m 24secs
3. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner at 1m 33secs
4. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 1m 34secs
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2m 39secs
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle at 4m 41secs
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 5m 35secs
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 5m 52secs
9. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r at 8m 10secs
10. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Ag2r at 8m 24secs
British
71. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle at 2h 0m 16secs
88. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 2h 18m 32secs

Tour de France 2008Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde and the Schleck brothers on Alpe d’Huez (LC)

Tour de France 2008Col du Galibier (GW)

Tour de France 2008David Millar on stage 17 (GW)

Tour de France 2008Ruben Perez, Remy Di Gregorio and Peter Velits were ahead of the bunch until Alpe d’Huez (GW)

Tour de France 2008Andy and Frank Schleck (GW)

Tour de France 2008Carlos Sastre attacks on Alpe d’Huez (GW)

Tour de France 2008Carlos Sastre wins, and earns himself the yellow jersey (GW)

Photos by Graham Watson (GW) and Luc Claessen (LC)



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 16: Dessel wins
Stage 15: Schleck takes lead in the Alps
Stage 14: Oscar Freire wins in Digne-les-Bains
Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win
Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 11: Arvesen wins
Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second
Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees
Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse
Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Schleck ready to defend Tour lead [stage 15]
Rest day news round-up [July 21]
Saunier Duval riders: “We are honest”
Cavendish talks to Cycling Weekly after quitting Tour
Schleck savours first ever Tour de France jersey [stage 15]
Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today
Cavendish pulls out of the Tour
Barloworld to end cycling sponsorship
Ricco speaks on Italian television
Cavendish joins the all-time greats
Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli
Tour bosses say fight against doping continues
Ricco denies doping at the Tour
Saunier Duval pull out of Tour
Tour’s top ten changes
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour
Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary
Cavendish battles through Pyrenees
Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]
Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour
Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]
Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]
Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders
David Millar: the dope controls are working
Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour
Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 15
Stage 14
Stage 13
Stage 12
Stage 11
Stage 11
Stage 10
Stage nine
Stage eight
Stage seven
Stage six
Stage five
Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part five
Life at the Tour part four
Life at the Tour part three
Life at the Tour part two
Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
Teams and riders>>
About the Tour>>