Tour narrows to two-man race: Schleck vs Contador

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, Tour de France 2010 stage 9

The Tour de France has narrowed to a two-man race with still half the race left to race. Today on the Alpine mountain passes leading to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador delivered a knock-out blow to former race leader, Cadel Evans.

"I'm not at my normal level," said Evans, "but when you're in the yellow jersey at the Tour, whether you're good or not, you have to be there."

Evans crashed in the opening kilometres of Sunday's stage to Morzine-Avoriaz, where he eventually took the overall lead by 20 seconds over Schleck. The yellow jersey, though, couldn't heal a fractured left elbow, which the team revealed only after today's stage.

Over the 204.5 kilometres to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Evans suffered. Once Astana turned up the tempo on the Madeleine climb, Evans slid off the back of the favourites group. Schleck then took his turn and attacked several times, eventually riding clear with Contador.

Evans' loss? Just over eight minutes, which slotted him just behind Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the overall classification.

"I did not expect him to win this Tour because he had a hard Giro d'Italia behind him," said Schleck.

"The others could have attacked, but they didn't. As it is now, it looks like a race between me and Alberto."

Schleck leads by 41 seconds and nearly three minutes on Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).

"I had a good agreement with Andy and we took advantage of it," explained last year's winner, Contador. "We had a good battle on the Madeleine at first, he was attacking me, but then we agreed to work together to arrive to the finish line [to maximise the time gains].

"It's clear now that my rival is Andy."

And the last step on the podium? After a quick assessment of the results, Sky's team manager, David Brailsford, considers Wiggins amongst a small group who may fight for third overall.

"There's probably 15, 20 guys who can fight it out all the way to see how they fare."

Wiggins is 16th overall at seven minutes back.

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France stage 9

Bradley Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?

Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain

Bradley Wiggins: Tour rest day conference

Evans faces rough ride in yellow

Riis secures replacement sponsor but Shleck in doubt

Tour de France 2010: rest day review (July 12)

Armstrong's Tour de France dream ends

Sky's objective clear ahead of Tour's high mountains

The Feed Zone (July 10): Tour de France news and views

Thomas: 'Yellow jersey would be unbelievable

Analysis: The role of Renshaw

Cavendish strikes back in Tour de France

Thomas happy with Tour's white jersey; but says 'All for Brad'

Wiggins crashes on Tour stage start

Cavendish and Farrar return to top

Cavendish keeps up fight for first Tour win

Sky delivers Boasson Hagen to third without pressure

Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

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 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 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


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