By John Trevorrow in Jausiers
As expected, the CSC-Saxo Bank threw everything at Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov, but could not shake them on the steep slopes of the 2800 metre Col de la Bonette-Restefond, the highest road in France. Andy Schleck set a damaging tempo in the rarified air, and whittled down the group of contenders to a select few on those moonscape slopes. But while Evans would not crack, Menchov lost a crucial 35 seconds on the treacherous descent into Jausiers
The climb was made hard by Andy Schleck, but aside from the young rider's wicked tempo, neither the yellow jersey, Fränk Schleck nor his co-captain Carlos Sastre made a concerted effort to dislodge Evans.
Instead, Evans seemed intent on putting time into Fränk Schleck on the final descent, perhaps in hopes that Schleck's crash in the Tour de Suisse would have him riding conservatively on the twisty, steep road down to the finish. But he quickly changed his mind and took the lead for most of the lower portion of the descent. "That was a very dangerous. I tried to go with [Samuel] Sanchez but a motorbike got in the way. As it was we caught him just before the finish."
The Australian took something positive away from the day, however. "It was good to take time on Menchov, but tomorrow is the most crucial day. CSC rode an incredible pace for the entire climb and I'm not sure exactly what happened on GC," he said, suffering from dehydration and cramps after the day at high altitude. "Schleck and Sastre are still there. But it's tomorrow that's going to be the mountain stage of the tour."
Evans, who suffered a horrendous crash on stage nine which shattered his helmet into three pieces, was clearly still using his head following the stage finish. This time, it helped keep a pesky cameraman out of the way as Evans tried to make his way through the media scrum to get to his team bus.
Serge, his bodyguard, worked to divert Evans around corners, and he had avoided most of the action until a cameraman propped right in front of Evans, who was still doing about 15 kph. It was like trying to stop a charging bull, and Evans just dropped his head and charged straight through. El Toro!