By Gregor Brown in Jausiers
Italian Vincenzo Nibali lost his grip on the Tour de France leader's group and the maillot blanc that he held for the last four stages. The Liquigas rider fell victim to the pressure of CSC-Saxo Bank's super-domestique Andy Schleck in the mountainous stage to Jausiers on Tuesday. He was dropped on the massive final climb, and came in 3'45" behind his nearest competitor in that classification, none other than Schleck.
"Andy Schleck was firing today just like he showed two days ago," Nibali told Cyclingnews following Tuesday's stage. Nibali now sits six seconds behind Schleck, who worked double-duty in the leaders' group up the Bonette-Restefond for brother and maillot jaune Fränk Schleck.
"I tried hard to hang in there on the second climb. I could not maintain the rhythm those guys were holding. Up until the last eight kilometres, I was doing well. I had Murilo Fischer helping me out after he dropped back from the escape."
Nibali needs to keep in contact with Schleck throughout the next day's stage to Alpe d'Huez, the final high-mountain run through the Alps. The two are similar in their time trial strengths and the fight for the right to be the Tour's best youngster will be settled on the penultimate day, the 53-kilometre time trial to Saint Amand Montrond.