Drama, attacks, surprises, scandal and pain – the 2010 Tour de France rollercoaster ride has continued into its third week just as it started on Saturday, July 3 in Rotterdam.

Since the first rest day on Monday, July 12, the riders have left the Alps and hit the high mountains of the Pyrenees, with 3,115.4 event-packed kilometres under their tyres.

Of the original 197 starters, 172 remain in the race. Many are in tatters – physically and mentally exhausted, and held together with gauze and blue plasters. Several of the pre-race overall contenders have had their hopes left at the roadside whilst new names have risen to the top ten of the general classification.

‘Chaingate’
One of the defining points of the past few days has been the incident during Monday’s stage 15 to Bagneres-de-Luchon. Only separated by 31 seconds at the start of the day, race leader Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) launched an attack on second-placed Alberto Contador (Astana) on the final Port de Bales climb.

Schleck got away, but suddenly lurched forward as he changed gear – his chain unshipped at the most inopportune moment possible. Contador, Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) appeared to seize the moment to attack as Schleck fumbled to sort out his chain. The trio flew up the mountain, leaving Schleck behind.

The unwritten rule is that you don’t attack the race leader if he is temporarily caught up and unable to respond. But as it’s an unwritten rule, the exact event that should make rivals stop and wait for the yellow jersey are left wide open to interpretation.

In the event, Contador and companions sped down Port des Bales and came in 39 seconds ahead of the furiously chasing – and furious – Schleck. Contador moved into the lead by just eight seconds over Schleck.

The Saxo Bank leader needs every second of advantage over Contador before Saturday’s final time trial. Contador is much the stronger rider against the clock and could put as much as two minutes into Schleck over the 52km test.

Contador’s actions caused widespread criticism, and he was booed by an element of the audience when being presented with the yellow jersey after the stage.

The Spaniard claimed he didn’t realise Schleck was in trouble. Schleck was angry that his ‘friend’ had betrayed him. Two pretty evenly numbered factions of race fans were for and against Contador. Many said he was unsporting, others said Schleck’s mechanical was fair game.

Either way, it was an event the magnitude of which will only be revealed in Paris on Sunday.

Lance Armstrong and Damiano Cunego chase, Tour de France 2010, stage 16

Armstrong’s last hurrah?
Lance Armstrong announced before the start of the race that this would be his final Tour de France. The seven-time winner had formed the RadioShack squad at the end of 2009 in a bid to win an eighth yellow jersey. However, a series of crashes, distractions and poor form have seen the Texan tumble down the overall classification.

This, said Armstrong, was to get him completely out of overall contention and leave him free to try and take a stage win. And on Tuesday’s stage 16, sure enough, Armstrong got into the early break. This was then reeled in, only to see the American go on the attack again and help form an escape group that stuck.

Armstrong had RadioShack team-mate Chris Horner with him to help in the final sprint in Pau, but the veteran Tour winner could not match the pace of Pierrick Fedrigo to the line after 199.5km of riding in the Pyrenees. Armstrong sat up, drifting home in sixth place.

Could this really be the end of Armstrong’s long association with the event that has made him what he is? He has four more stages to go out with a bang rather than a wimper.

French excel

The home crowd have, for the first time in many years, had plenty to cheer about from the roadside in this year’s race.

French riders have won six stages, had a rider in the yellow jersey (Sylvain Chavanel) and lead the King of the Mountains competition (Anthony Charteau).

Green machine

He may not be the best pure sprinter, but Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) has proved himself to be the best all-rounder in this year’s Tour and is a worthy recipient of the green jersey. Often misnamed the ‘sprinters classification’, Hushovd has reaffirmed what the points classification is all about – consistency.

The Norwegian’s single-minded pursuit of points in stage finishes and intermediate sprints has been astounding. He may have ‘only’ won one stage to Cavendish’s three and Petacchi’s two, but he has been in the top ten of pretty much every variety of stage so far – flat, cobbles, hilly and high mountains.

While his sprint rivals languished in the grupetto over half an hour back in the Pyrenees, Hushovd kept pace with the yellow jersey group on Tuesday’s high mountains stage to snatch tenth spot behind the escapees and take the points lead back from Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre).

No one has worked harder for the green jersey.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) added his third win on stage 11 and now sits third in the points classification. It didn’t all go Cav’s way. He had to face ace lead-out man Mark Renshaw being sensationally booted out of the race for headbutting Garmin’s Julian Dean during the run-in to the line.

Final four days
Just four stages remain in the 2010 Tour de France, but those four days have the potential to reshuffle the overall classification as much as the two-and-a-half weeks before them.

After Wednesday’s rest day, the riders again hit the high Pyrenees with another visit to Col du Tourmalet on Thursday’s stage 17 – this time as a mountain-top finish. There will be no hiding. The best climbers will have to attack, and attack hard to gain time. Andy Schleck will do well to visit Pau Models and Bicycles to buy himself a chain guard.

On Friday’s stage 18, there’s a flat day for the sprinters – what’s left of them – due north to Bordeaux. Mark Cavendish will have to win here if he is to stand a chance of winning the green jersey.

Saturday’s individual time trial stage 19 is a long, lone test against the clock that on paper hands last year’s final time trial and overall winner Alberto Contador a trump card.

Then it’s on to the traditional procession to the Champs Elysees in Paris for the race finale, and another sprint showdown. The green jersey will likely be decided on the last day.

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General classification after stage 16
1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 78-29-10

2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 8secs
3. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2-00
4. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2-13
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 3-39
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 5-01
7. Levi Leipheimer (Usa) Team RadioShack at 5-25
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 5-45
9. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 7-12
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 7-51
Others

18. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 12-34
21. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky at 17-44
25. Lance Armstrong (USA) Team RadioShack at 33-46
60. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 1-33-12
152. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 3-15-21
154. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 3-17-46
159. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 3-25-22
163. Daniel Lloyd (GB) Cervelo at 3-27-48
165. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 3-30-01

Points classification: Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
Mountains classification: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Young rider: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Team: RadioShack

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Tour de France 2010: Race numbers
Stages completed: 17
Stages to go: 4
Kilometres completed: 3,115.4km

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For videos, results and information on the prologue and stages one to eight, see our first Rest Day Review>>

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Stage 10, Wednesday, July 14
Chambéry to Gap, 179km
Winner: Sergio Paulinho (Por) RadioShack
Yellow jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
Mountains jersey: Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank, worn by Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
Stage 10 report>>

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Stage 11, Thursday, July 15
Sisteron to Bourg-lès-Valence, 184.5km
Winner: Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia
Yellow jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Green jersey: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
Mountains jersey: Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank, worn by Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
Stage 11 report>>

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Stage 12, Friday, July 16
Bourg-de-Péage to Mende, 210.5km
Winner: Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
Yellow jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
Mountains jersey: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank, worn by Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
Stage 12 report>>

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Stage 13, Saturday, July 17
Rodez to Revel, 196km
Winner: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
Yellow jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Green jersey: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
Mountains jersey: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank, worn by Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
Stage 13 report>>

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Stage 14, Sunday, July 18

Revel to Ax 3 Domaines, 184.5km
Winner: Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
Yellow jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Green jersey: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
Mountains jersey: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank, worn by Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
Stage 14 report>>

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Stage 15, Monday, July 19

Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon, 187.5km
Winner: Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Yellow jersey: Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
Green jersey: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre
Mountains jersey: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Stage 15 report>>

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Stage 16, Tuesday, July 20
Winner: Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Yellow jersey: Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo
Mountains jersey: Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
Stage 16 report>>

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Tour de France 2010: Days in yellow jersey
Fabian Cancellara: 6
Andy Schleck: 6
Sylvain Chavanel: 2
Alberto Contador: 2
Cadel Evans: 1

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Tour de France 2010: Stage wins by team
HTC-Columbia: 3
Bbox Bouygues Telecom: 2
Lampre-Farnese Vini: 2
Quick Step: 2
Saxo Bank: 2
Ag2r-La Mondiale: 1
Astana: 1
Cervelo: 1
Francaise des Jeux: 1
Katusha: 1
RadioShack: 1

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Tour de France 2010: Wins by nation
France: 6
Great Britain: 3
Italy: 2
Kazakhstan: 1
Luxembourg: 1
Norway: 1
Portugal: 1
Spain: 1
Switzerland: 1

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Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Armstrong has his last go in the Tour

Tour’s points leader Petacchi investigated for doping

Contador issues video apology to Schleck

Millar searches horizon for Eiffel Tower

Schleck-Contador friendship turns sour after chain problem

Wiggins at 2010 Tour: “I haven’t got it”

Basso wins Tour’s acceptance; podium spot next goal

Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds

Can Cav win without Renshaw?

Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour’s top

Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish’s win

Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour

Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?

Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey

Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut

Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage 16: Fedrigo takes tough Pyrenean stage

Stage 15: Victorious Voeckler continues fine Franch Tour as Contador takes yellow jersey

Stage 14: Riblon hangs on in Pyrenees to give France fourth stage win

Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban

Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks

Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour

Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race

Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day

Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage 15 photo gallery

Stage 14 photo gallery

Stage 13 photo gallery

Stage 12 photo gallery

Stage 11 photo gallery

Stage 10 photo gallery

Stage nine photo gallery

Stage eight photo gallery

Tour 2010 wallpaper

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage 16 video highlights

Stage 15 video highlights

Stage 14 video highlights

Stage 13 video highlights

Stage 12 video highlights

Stage 11 video highlights

Stage 10 video highlights

Stage nine video highlights

Stage eight video highlights

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures
Tour team presentation, Rotterdam
Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special

 

  • Heather

    Schleck unfortunately attacked & then fluffed his gears up. To quote many of the ex-pros now commentating on the tour, it was a ‘racing incident’, not a mechanical or a crash & Contador was right to carry on his counter-attack.
    A shame, only because we missed the opportunity to see the 2 of them battle it out there & then.
    I think all this hoo ha this has been fuelled by some of the media.
    And it’s a sad day for the sport – cycling is attracting more fans, but the sort of fans who don’t understand cycle racing & boo the yellow jersey.

  • george

    Is it just me cycling weekly or is the only rider in the race Lance Armstrong?