Christian Vande Velde?s chances of a place on the final Tour de France podium in Paris took a blow after the Garmin team leader finished more than four minutes behind stage winner Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) in Jausiers on Tuesday.
Vande Velde struggled to stay with the other overall contenders over the top of the Bonette-Restefond climb and then crashed on the descent. He got back up and chased hard on the long descent but lost 2-36 to Frank Schleck (CSC), Cadel Evans (Silence), Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (CSC).
Denis Menchov (Rabobank) also lost time after being dropped on the descent. He lost 35 seconds and is now fifth overall at 1-13.
Vande Velde is sixth overall, 3-15 behind Schleck. However after a career of riding for others, Vande Velde made it clear he will not give up fight for overall success.
?I was in difficulty on the final climb but I had a lot of help from Ryder (Hesjedal), he did an amazing job,? Vande Velde said after the finish.
?We were really close, we were only 35 seconds behind at the top, but then on the way down I crashed and a Cofidis guy crashed too. It was my fault, we were on a tight corner and I just lost it. Unfortunately we completely lost our rhythm and it took us a while to get going again near the bottom. By that point we?d lost so much time and moment.?
Vande Velde is a good time trialist and so can pull back time in the final time trial on Saturday but he predicted that anything could happen during Wednesday?s final stage through the Alps and up to Alpe d?Huez.
?It?s not over by any means,? he said defiantly.
?There?s a lot of guys suffering and I wasn?t far off. I was at 35 second and then I had the crash but it just compounded things. Anything can happen tomorrow.?
Wednesday?s stage could be great stage with the legendary climbs of Col du Galibier, the Col de la Crois de Fer and then up to Alpe d?Huez expected to finally great some big time gaps between the main favourites.