By Hedwig Kröner in Carcassonne
The first mountain stage of this year's Tour de France not only saw the yellow jersey change possession, but also an exciting battle for the polkadotted garment. Before the overall contenders fought it out for the stage win in Pla-de-Beret, Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) and David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) showed a very competitive spirit in the Pyrenees.
The two riders went off in the first of the five climbs of the day, the Tourmalet. And their duel continued until the penultimate ascent - sometimes to the advantage of the German, sometimes to the one of the Spaniard. Finally, De la Fuente took the best of Wegmann by placing one impressive attack on the Col du Portillon, practically sprinting.
After all of these efforts, the Gerolsteiner rider was feeling tired at the start of stage 12 in Luchon, but he was sure the battle between himself and David de la Fuente would continue. "I was a little too gullible yesterday," he said. "And he was a bit smarter. He waited a long time to attack, and always played like he was suffering a lot. And then, in the final, he showed what he was really up to... I was pretty p***ed off.
"The game between us was on; both of us really wanted that jersey," he explained the ongoing duel. "You don't give anything away like that. And I'm sure that the fight will continue - maybe not today, but one of these days."
The leader of the polkadot jersey independently shared his opinion. "Wegmann and Dessel, who is now second on the classification, will surely try to fight over the points jersey with me," he said. "But I think I will keep it until the Alps. I'm very tired today but I will have recuperated then I hope."