Juan Manuel Garate came third in the first mountainous stage of this year’s Tour de France. He was of course the last man to win a mountain stage at the Tour de France as he triumphed atop Mont Ventoux on the penultimate day last year. He tried to repeat his performance in Les Rousses but couldn’t make it back up to Sylvain Chavanel.
“I’m happy with my ride”, the Rabobank climber said after the finish. “My work here at the Tour de France is to stay with Denis Menchov until the last climb. I attacked today when he told me I could go. I knew it would be very difficult to catch Chavanel. But I had good legs. I deserved to try something.”
The Rabobank team made the race hard earlier on. Garate’s attack was not planned but was dictated by the circumstances of the race. “Tomorrow will be another story,” Garate warned, meaning that he’s more than ready to go back to his original job as Menchov’s closest helper. Rabobank intends to have Robert Gesink in a free role and the Russian as a serious and more cautious leader. Menchov (10th), Garate (18th) and Gesink (23rd) are at 1:10, 2:19 and 2:37 respectively from Cadel Evans, who is the highest placed of the favourites.