The new French Tour de France hopeful Christophe Le Mével from Française des Jeux has saved his impressive placing from the first day in the Alps on Saturday. The Frenchman gained some minutes in the general classification after having been in the breakaway of stage 14 to Besançon. The move put him in fifth overall position starting the Tour's second mountain top finish on Sunday, and at the summit in Verbier, he still remained in contention in ninth place, 3.09 minutes down.
Le Mével said he had difficulties recovering from his escape the day before, but still managed to limit his losses. "On the climb, I gave it everything, and Sandy Casar did an excellent job," said the new leader of Marc Madiot's team to AFP after the stage. "Together, we tried to follow at the foot of the climb. We went flat out, and eventually both of us exploded."
Le Mével and Casar then found a small group to tackle the climb at a convenient rhythm. "Having been fifth this morning, I didn't want to disappoint myself, nor the people that follow me and support me."
The Française des Jeux rider was happy with his result, but also respectful of what is still to come in the final week of the Tour. "I remain in the top ten, that's really cool. Now, I have to overcome the Alps - it will be very difficult, but I will try not to tumble down too much in the classification."
The 28-year-old, who won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2005, finished tenth overall at Paris-Nice in March and, more recently, scored the same result at the Dauphiné Libéré.