By Brecht Decaluwé in Super Besse
Cadel Evans further earned the confidence of his Silence-Lotto team with a solid third place finish on the Tour's stage six uphill dash at Super Besse. Luckily avoiding the crash inside the final kilometre which felled yellow jersey Stefan Schumacher, the Australian finished on the same time as his rival, Alejandro Valverde and moved within six seconds of yellow.
Silence-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant said that he was content with the race situation, and was actually glad to not have to defend the yellow jersey, which passed from Schumacher to Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia). "Once again the result is good. Finishing on the wheel of Valverde on a finish like this is something you can only dream of," Sergeant said. "Luckily still no yellow," he said. Evans' gap of just six seconds is a perfect situation, in his opinion. "It's just enough for us," he said. "If I would've written a scenario before the Tour then it would've looked like this."
Sergeant felt sorry for Schumacher, who lost the overall lead with a poorly timed crash in the final 300m. "It's a pity that the crash played havoc among the general classification contenders, because that's surely not what we wished for them."
"Of course [Kirchen] deserves it, but Schumacher's team [Gerolsteiner] worked for it all day long and he was up there until 300 metres to go," Sergeant said.
The next three days will be a tactical challenge, as they pose hilly stages that could change the overall classification, but precede the first major mountain finish atop Hautacam. "That's also why I regret that Schumacher is no longer in yellow because those guys take control of the race, like they did today," Sergeant said.
"On the other hand Columbia will also be working because they have a new sponsor who recently joined cycling. Yesterday they captured a stage victory and now they wear yellow, so I guess they're living on a cloud right now and that's something you don't give away just like that," Sergeant said.
"On the other hand Kirchen is now one of the favourites for the overall victory, which is something nobody expected."