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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Sunday, 18 July 2010 16:18 UK

Tour de France 2010: Riblon wins first Pyrenees stage

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

Christophe Riblon
Riblon secured just the fifth win of his five-year professional career

Frenchman Christophe Riblon won stage 14 of the Tour de France, as contenders Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez gained time on overall leader Andy Schleck.

In the first of four days in the Pyrenees, Riblon left a breakaway near the summit of the penultimate climb and held on until the finish.

Menchov and Sanchez were second and third as they gained 14 seconds on Schleck and Alberto Contador.

Riblon's breakaway group included Welshman Geraint Thomas of Team Sky.

The group, which numbered nine in all, came together after just 24 km of the 184.5 km stage from Revel to the ski resort Ax 3 Domaines and stayed together for three-and-a-half hours, taking their lead to 10 minutes at one point.

Do you want me to be honest with you? I've got nothing, I just haven't got the form, it's as simple as that

Bradley Wiggins

But British champion Thomas could not hang on as the riders climbed the hors-category Port de Pailhères, and Riblon left the rest of the group just before the summit to go it alone for the final 29km.

It was a surprise win for 29-year-old Riblon, just the fifth of a five-year professional career for a man who started the day 24 min 37 sec behind Schleck in 33rd overall.

"I don't know what to say, I'm just too emotional," said Riblon. "I felt like I really had good legs, and so I went for it.

"I did a good climb. It's the kind of result I've been after for a long time."

The action raged behind him on the final 8km climb, though, as Schleck and defending champion Contador focused on each other in a cat-and-mouse tactical battle, and Menchov and Sanchez took advantage, breaking clear of a group of leading riders in the final stages.

We toyed with each other, but I think I finished the day on top

Alberto Contador

Olympic champion Sanchez battled back to rejoin Menchov in the final sprint and retains a 13-second lead over the Russian, with his overall deficit on Schleck cut to 2 min 31 sec.

Contador's Astana team had dominated the day, dragging back the breakaway then upping the pace on the first climb to shed several leading riders.

The two-time Tour winner made repeated attacks on Schleck, who had been left without a Saxo Bank team-mate on the final climb, but the Luxembourger stayed on his wheel with aplomb.

"He played poker, I played poker, we both played poker today," said Schleck.

"I can afford to lose time to the others but I had to play the game today. Tomorrow will be different. I want to win this Tour."

Contador added: "We toyed with each other, but I think I finished the day on top.

"But I don't think the final climb was hard enough for either of us to take time off each other. In the end we decided to collaborate to chase down Menchov and Sanchez."

The Count

Britain's Bradley Wiggins was dropped on the climb, rejoined the main group on the descent but struggled again in the closing stages and finished 4 min 59 back in 36th.

Wiggins is now 18th overall and will force his Team Sky bosses to make key tactical decisions as Swede Thomas Lovkvist is now their best-placed rider, 1 min 44 sec ahead of the team leader.

With six days of racing remaining, Wiggins said his form does not compare to 12 months ago, when he finished fourth.

"Do you want me to be honest with you? I've got nothing, I just haven't got the form, it's as simple as that," he said.

"I'm just trying my hardest, battling on, rather than give up. I just haven't got it as I did last year. I don't know why. I just feel consistently mediocre."

After his heroic display, which began when he attacked in a group of five in the very first kilometre, Thomas fell back, finishing over 15 minutes behind Riblon.

Three further Pyrenean tests loom, with Monday bringing a 187.5km stage with three lower-category climbs, then the hors-category Port de Bales, followed by a tight descent to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

The riders then climb the Col du Tourmalet twice, on Tuesday and Thursday, either side of a rest day in Pau.

And the final placings are likely to be decided on Saturday's time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac.

Stage 14 results:

1. Christophe Riblon (Fra / AG2R) 4h 52 min 42 sec
2. Denis Menchov (Rus / Rabobank) +54
3. Samuel Sanchez (Spain / Euskaltel) same time
4. Andy Schleck (Lux / Saxo Bank) +1'08"
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain / Katusha) same time

Overall standings:

1. Schleck 68h 2 min 30 sec
2. Alberto Contador (Spa / Astana) +31"
3. Sanchez +2'31"
4. Menchov +2'44"
5. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel / Omega Pharma-Lotto) +3'31"
6. Robert Gesink (Ned / Rabobank) +4'27"
7. Levi Leipheimer (US / RadioShack) +4'51"
8. Rodriguez +4'58"
9. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa / Caisse d'Epargne) +5'56"
10. Ivan Basso (Ita / Liquigas) +6'52"

Selected others:

14. Nicolas Roche (Ire/ AG2R) +08' 03"
15. Carlos Sastre (Spa/ Cervelo) +08'15"
16. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe/ Sky) +09'46"
18. Bradley Wiggins (GB / Sky) +11'30"
19. Cadel Evans (Aus / BMC) +12' 39"
27. Christophe Riblon (Fra / AG2R) +23' 29"
38. Lance Armstrong (US / Radioshack) +39' 44"
58. Geraint Thomas (GB / Sky) +1h 10' 29"
148. Stephen Cummings (GB / Sky) +2h 21' 50"
150. Mark Cavendish (GB / HTC-Columbia) +2h 24' 15"
156. David Millar (GB / Garmin) +2h 31' 51"
160. Daniel Lloyd (GB / Cervelo) +2h 34' 17"
163. Jeremy Hunt (GB / Cervelo) +2h 36' 30"

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see also
Vinokourov wins after late burst
17 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Contador cuts Schleck's Tour lead
16 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France day by day
04 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2010 guide
02 Jul 10 |  Cycling

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Panay News Riblon wins 14th stage of Tour - 6 hrs ago
Belfast Telegraph Tour de France: Andy Schleck is overtaken by a chain of events - 9 hrs ago
Bangladesh Daily Star Schleck, Contador play mind games - 9 hrs ago
The Independent Tour de France: Schleck vows 'revenge' as Contador takes yellow - 14 hrs ago
Deccan Herald Riblon wins 14th stage as race gathers momentum - 19 hrs ago


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