By Brecht Decaluwé in Foix, France
The Silence-Lotto team from yellow jersey Cadel Evans hit the road with the responsibility to control the race for the first time in the Tour. Domestique Mario Aerts – the Tour de France room-mate of Evans – talked with Cyclingnews about the Belgian team's day out on the roads between Lannemezan and Foix on stage eleven.
"Cadel didn't have a hard day. He was riding attentive in the front of the peloton and I don't think that first category climb was a problem for him," Aerts said. "For us that was quite different as it rained attacks during the first hour. Eventually there was a breakaway that was allowed the distance and they managed to take a large margin. We thought to give them the maximum, twenty minutes," said Aerts. "I felt it was hard with the heat and the annoying roads here; it's never possible to roll along with that sort of sticky asphalt."
After two thirds in the race the Col de Portel turned out to be a tough, but non-selective climb although there was an attack from Oscar Pereiro, winner of the Tour de France 2006. "We wanted to make it over the climb with the whole team and then Pereiro attacked. We wanted to block the road until the top and then we would be working with five or six guys, so that Pereiro would go nowhere. But clearly CSC had a different tactic and they decided to accelerate on the climb.
"That was good for us, too, and when they stopped we took it over for that last bit," Aerts explained. "I was a little bit surprised by the move from CSC. They were really quick with their reaction on Pereiro's attack."
Cadel Evans had a good word for team-mate and compatriot Robbie McEwen who's regularly converting from a sprinter into a domestique in this Tour de France. "I'm glad we have Robbie on the road as some sort of quick thinking lieutenant. We're coming to the same solutions, but he arrives there much quicker than me," Evans said, explaining that there is a lot to think about during the stages. "As you know I had a bit of an accident on Sunday and in stages like this it's not only about the battle for yellow, but also the competition for the points classification, the mountains competition and so on."