Cadel Evans (Silence) lost a precious two minutes and 15 seconds to Carlos Sastre at the finish at L?Alpe d?Huez and is now 1-34 behind the Spaniard in the overall standings, but the tough Aussie is not going to give up.
With the Alps over, he is even quietly confident he can pull back enough time on Sastre in Saturday?s 53km time trial and snatch the yellow jersey for the final stage into Paris.
Evans again rode a defensive race on Wednesday, letting CSC control the peloton on the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix de Fer. He let Sastre go clear when he attacked at the bottom of L?Alpe d?Huez, carefully marked Frank Schleck and then tried to reduce the gap on Sastre in the final kilometres to the French ski station.
After going to anti-doping control, Evans talked about his day and had a slight smile and sign of relief on his face. He knew the stage could have gone much worse.
?I?d have preferred to be on Sastre?s wheel with no time lost but it?s not so bad, even if I?d rather be five minutes in front rather than one and half down,? Evans said.
?I think tactically it was the best thing they (CSC) could have done. The most dangerous thing would have been if Sastre was away with Frank Schleck but all things considered, it?s not bad.?
?It's been three against one with CSC the whole Tour?
Evans was slightly disappointed that all the other overall contenders such as Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) largely sat on wheels during the stage.
?The head wind worked in my advantage yesterday (on stage 16 to Jausiers) but today they were able to sit on my wheel and recover. I had to ride and set the tempo but I also had to cover attacks by Schleck. It?s not easy to do when you?ve got ten of the best riders on your wheel. In the final five kilometres, no one was interested in helping me and I was out numbered. It's been three against one with CSC the whole Tour.?
?The time trial is the race of truth?
Evans is still the favourite to take the yellow jersey in Saturday?s final 53km time trial but he knows that Sastre is now much more of a threat because of his 1-34 advantage and also because he has the yellow jersey.
?Last year was a bit of a Hollywood script finale. Actually, it was probably a bit too original for Hollywood. I seem to have a bit of a knack for this at the Tour. Last year I had to gain two minutes on a Spaniard and it?s the same again this year,? Evans joked as he considered the thrilling end to yet another Tour de France.
He refused to make any bold predictions but is up for the fight.
?The time trial is the race of truth and whoever has the legs will win. It will take a good time trial for me to do it but we?ll see on Saturday?.?
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 (Rus) Ag2r at 8m 10secs
10. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Ag2r at 8m 24secs.
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage 17: Sastre wins on Alpe d'Huez, takes lead
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
Analysis: tactical battle on L'Alpe d'Huez [stage 17]
Schleck promises to attack main rivals
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
|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>>
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