Cadel Evans moved one position up the Tour de France general classification today with an excellent ride over the second category Col du Manse. The Australian, who started the day in third place, made it across to Alberto Contador on the climb and then dropped him on the wet descent.
His ride saw him leapfrog Frank Schleck in to second place overall after the Leopard-Trek rider finished in a small group nine seconds back.
Evans only put three seconds in to Contador, but pulled 21 seconds back on Voeckler. With the final time trial around Grenoble favouring the Australian over everyone except Contador (the two are fairly equal on paper) he is reinforcing his status as Tour winner elect every day.
Even if Evans gains no more time on Voeckler (or either of the Schlecks) he would go in to the time trial as favourite to win if the time gaps stayed the same. If anything, the way Evans is riding would suggest he is as able to gain time on any of his rivals, as they are on him.
Contador was the main aggressor today, jumping away in the rain on the 9.5km climb to the north of Gap. At first the Schelcks got across, followed by everyone else, but when he went a second time it was only Evans and Samuel Sanchez who could make it across.
The summit was 10.5km from the finish line but the weather turned the descent in to a crucial selection. As Andy Schleck was getting distanced behind, Evans rode away from Contador and Sanchez, no mean descenders themselves. “I wasnt expecting so much on the climb. I was more prepared for things on the downhill because it’s a little bit dangerous,” BMC’s leader said after the stage.
“Last year I had a broken arm when we had the finish here and it scared me. This year I got in front alone and followed the moves. It was a good little move and a good day.”
“The guys got me in the right position, right at the bottom of the last climb. I just had to play my cards as they came out. It [was] still 21-22km to go [at the bottom of the climb]. It was not like [Contador] was going to go from there alone, so I just took my time, looked around and saw what was going on.”
“You have to be really carefully in these [stages] where you are so close on the GC. As we saw at Plateau de Beille and Luz Ardiden [with it] being such close racing, it’s the guys coming [from] behind [that] can be the danger.”
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index