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Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 16:25 UK

Andy Schleck grabs Tour de France lead as Evans toils

Tour de France 2010
Start: 3 July, Rotterdam Finish: 25 July, Paris
Coverage: Listen to the final hour of every stage on the BBC Sport website (UK only), with selected stages on BBC 5 live sports extra ; Watch live on Eurosport and ITV4; Live text commentary each day on BBC Sport website

Andy Schleck (right) leads Cadel Evans
Andy Schleck (right) and Alberto Contador took control, as Cadel Evans (left) saw his title hopes evaporate

Andy Schleck took over the yellow jersey after a punishing stage nine of the Tour de France, which left Cadel Evans' victory hopes in tatters.

World champion Evans was dramatically dropped at the 160km mark of the 205.4km (127-mile) stage from Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

It later emerged that Evans had ridden with a fractured elbow, but he plans to continue in the race.

Sandy Casar won the stage ahead of Luis Leon Sanchez and Damiano Cunego.

Luxembourger Schleck and Alberto Contador, who were seventh and sixth, led the rest by more than two minutes.

Samuel Sanchez finished 52 seconds behind Casar to move into third place overall, two minutes and 45 seconds behind Schleck.

The Alps appear to have whittled it down to a two-man race already. What an unforgiving stage

5 live commentator Simon Brotherton

Evans crawled to the line in 42nd place, more than eight minutes back, and immediately broke down in tears in a team-mate's arms.

The Australian dropped from first in the overall standings to 18th on a disastrous day which left him seven minutes and 47 seconds adrift of the new leader.

"For the win, the Tour is over for this year," said the world champion, who added that he will not pull out of the race.

"Everyone believed in me, in this whole project, all the team has been so good to me. Everything was going so good, I'm so sorry to let them all down."

Evans' BMC Racing team later revealed he had ridden with a fractured elbow he suffered in a crash during the eighth stage on Sunday.

"Cadel was struggling to hold the handlebars and he went to train discreetly in the morning," said team director John Lelangue. "But the Madeleine (climb) was too hard for him.

"We're going to go on this way. The medical advice is that he can go on without danger."

Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, whose hopes of winning the 2010 Tour all but disappeared on the previous stage, finished two minutes and 50 seconds behind the leaders.

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins finished 30th, almost five minutes back, and the team will now focus on trying to move him up from his current position of 16th overall in the final 11 days of racing.

"I don't want to give up and throw my toys out of the pram, finish at the back or go home," said Wiggins, "so I'm going to just push on every day and maybe just recalibrate, say top 10 is now the goal.

"We put everything into it, it hasn't worked. It's not because we haven't tried."

606: DEBATE
nadarsenal

Evans had only taken the yellow jersey on Sunday but almost certainly lost it for good on the ascent of the Tour's first hors-category climb, the gruelling Col de la Madeleine.

Contador's Astana team set a punishing pace, and Evans could not live with it, the 33-year-old BMC rider cutting a miserable figure as he was left toiling alone.

Schleck, meanwhile, fought a fascinating duel with two-time champion Contador to the summit.

He tried to attack the Spaniard three times, before the pair eventually had a conversation in which they appeared to agree to join forces to put distance between themselves and their rivals.

"I actually thought he wasn't very quick today, but I was wrong," said Schleck of the defending champion. "He responded to all my attacks, we basically went to the top together.

"We had a really big gap to the guys behind us without taking overtaking risks, so I told him at the top to take no risks on the downhill."

Schleck and Contador almost caught the leaders at the finish before Casar took the stage win for Francaise des Jeux in a sprint finish.

The 25-year-old Schleck, who won Sunday's stage eight, will wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career on Wednesday as the riders make their way from Chambery to Gap on Bastille Day in France.

Schleck's elder brother Frank, who withdrew from this year's race after suffering a broken collarbone on the cobbles during the third stage, is also a previous winner of the yellow jersey.

It means the Schlecks become the first set of brothers to have claimed the yellow jersey since 2001, when Francois Simon followed in the footsteps of brother Pascal, who wore the maillot jaune in 1983.

And Andy admitted he missed his brother's presence on the ascent up the Cote de la Madeleine.

"Imagine him and me up there with Contador - it would have been different," said the 25-year-old, who also holds the white jersey for the best young rider of the Tour. "But it is how it is."


Stage nine results:

1. Sandy Casar (Fra/FDJ) 5h 38m 10s
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Esp/Caisse d'Epargne) same time
3. Damiano Cunego (Ita/Lampre) same time
4. Christophe Moreau (Fra/Caisse d'Epargne) +2"
5. Anthony Chartreau (Fra/BBT) same time
6. Alberto Contador (Esp/Astana) same time
7. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) same time
8. Samuel Sanchez (Esp/Euskatel) +52"
9. Joaquin Rodriguez (Esp/Katusha) +2'07"
10. Levi Leipheimer (US/RadioShack) same time

Overall Standings:

1. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) 43h 35m 41s
2. Alberto Contador (Esp/Astana) +41"
3. Samuel Sanchez (Esp/Euskatel) +2'45"
4. Denis Menchov (Rus/Rabobank) +2'58"
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel/Omega Pharma-Lotto) +3'31"
6. Levi Leipheimer (US/RadioShack) +3'59"
7. Robert Gesnik (Ned/Rabobank) +4'22"
8. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne) +4'41"
9. Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa/Katusha) +5'08"
10. Ivan Basso (Ita/Liquigas) +5'09"

Selected others:

16. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Team Sky) +7'18"
17. Nicolas Roche (Ire/AG2R) +7'44"
31. Lance Armstrong (US/RadioShack) +15'54"
67. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +51'08"
103. Charlie Wegelius (GB/Omega Pharma) +1:15'46"

For full results visit the official Tour de France site



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see also
Wiggins resets goals on hard Tour
14 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Armstrong's Tour hopes disappear
11 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Chavanel reclaims yellow with win
10 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish roars back to win stage
08 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France's phoney war
07 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Petacchi wins as Cavendish fades
07 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Hushovd beats Thomas to stage win
06 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish to ride for Isle of Man
06 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Chavanel wins dramatic Tour stage
05 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Petacchi wins crash-strewn stage
04 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Millar & Thomas shine in prologue
03 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2010 guide
02 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France day by day
04 Jul 10 |  Cycling


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