Riblon revives French fans, Andy and Alberto watch each other
Christophe Riblon (Ag2R-La Mondiale) - stage winner, 27th overall @ 23:29: This is the greatest moment of my sporting career. It's been a long time coming and we worked hard to get there. It's really great!
It's turned around in the last two or three years as the team sometimes lacked a little luck. Since the start of the Tour we've been looking for this victory, fighting and trying in our efforts with varying degrees of success.
Nicolas Roche is in a great position overall. I also wanted to do this but I was a bit off and I was very disappointed with my start to the Tour. I really wanted to succeed with a great third week and it couldn't be a better start in the Pyrenees. I am truly satisfied!
We arrived at the climbs with the right gap. After I managed to ride two good climbs and a good descent and in the final kilometers I gave my maximum. I wondered how last year in the stage to Arcalis, Brice [Feillu] could have won and why we could not catch up.
In fact, I realised that when we are alone in front and we are playing for the win with an incredible audience, nothing can happen to us. We couldn't be caught up, it would be too unfair!
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - ninth on stage, 15th overall @ 8:15: I wasn't able to win again but I'm happy with how I was feeling physically. The Pyrenees have only just begun.
As everyone was aware, we were reaching a summit where I won a long time ago, in 2003, and I also left this morning with that aim. Volodymir and I attacked at the bottom of the Pailhères but there was a lot of headwind and the favourites didn't give me too much space.
I wanted to get a good gap that would give me a margin to manoeuvre to be able to take on the last climbs of the Plateau de Bonascre with some guarantees, but we ran into Riblon who was going really strong up in front and behind, a lot was being decided in the general classification
I am tired now, but I am content for trying to go for it. I feel better every day and I was especially motivated to race today. I can suffer again on the bike and I am coming closer to my normal self.
The beginning of this Tour de France was not easy for me, with all the problems I had from my crash at the Giro d'Italia, and again with my crash on the cobblestones. Today was a special day for me. I won here in 2003, and today I had extra motivation.
Maybe I cannot win the Tour de France, I am here to fight and do my best. My teammates and helped me as much as they could. We tried, but we couldn't do it, but if you don't try, you never know.
Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) - 14th on stage, ninth overall @ 5:56: I am happy with what I achieved in this first stage in the Pyrenees. It seems that I recovered very well and that I have forces left for the third week. I am on the good way and I hope to go on like that till Paris.
On the final ascent, without feeling very well, I was rather good and there in the group with the favourites. It's no secret that I suffer each time the rhythm changes and when Contador attacked it was just impossible for me to follow his rhythm.
Fortunately teammate Vasil Kiryienka was in front and he helped me a lot not too lose too much time. I am very grateful for what he did for me in the last part of the climb.
I am now the ninth overall and if it is try that finish the race in the top ten would be something really great - the most important thing for me and for my team is to win a stage. We shall try to do that before the race finishes next Sunday on the Champs Elysées.
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) - fourth on stage, first overall: I am quite satisfied with today's result. I simply stuck to the plan and stayed with Alberto [Contador] and I can afford to lose a few seconds to [Denis] Menchov and [Samuel] Sanchez.
I will attack when the time is right and I'm sure that tomorrow's stage will be different.
Rafael Valls (Footon-Servetto) - 35th on stage, 45th overall @ 49:50: I've got to be satisfied because I was up front again and could show myself. I knew that anticipating the attacks from the rest was important to gain some time before the last climb, but the group didn't let us build on it.
It might have seemed like an early attack, but you have to take chances when they appear to you, and I had very good legs in that moment. I took almost three minutes on the leaders in Pailhères, but the last two kilometres, when we almost got them inside a minute, were very hard for me because the climb was so selective.
I thought that Sastre and Kiryienka could be good fellow escapees, but the riders in the bunch were so close. Carlos made a couple of attacks in the last ascent and my legs couldn't do any better.
I'm happy, because the tendinitis in my leg hasn't given me problems today and I could show I can still be fighting; however, we all know how this works and it can turn the other way round from a day to the other, but if the legs roll as they did today, I'm extremely sure I'll look for it again.
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - third on stage, third overall @ 2:31: I can't see the value in what passed between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador. Each one has its own strategy and I had enough with my work, to suffer to the maximum and doing my best.
The vigilance that took place amongst them allowed Menchov and I to steal a few seconds, but the story of of the race hasn't changed at all. Like all stages of this Tour, it was a very difficult day. Following the formation of the break, it was all Astana to Palhieres and then they rode a high tempo in Les Domaines.
It was another long, hard stage and it was increasingly harder to find strength in the decisive moments. We are in a good position but to maintain it will be difficult. I will fight to do if it's possible, I'll do my best and we'll leave it all on the road.
Alberto Contador (Astana) - seventh on stage, second overall @ 31 seconds: Vino and all the team did a magnificent job, but it was a relatively easy pass to go on the wheel and that's the reason the differences are much smaller than on other climbs.
Yes, it was a battle between him [Schleck] and me until we saw that we had to collaborate among ourselves not to lose too much time to the others. We were both watching each other, but the last time trial favours me.
With respect to Andy there are others who are very strong; riders such as [Denis] Menchov and Samuel [Sanchez], who go well in the time trial and can be dangerous for him.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) - sixth on stage, sixth overall @ 4:27: This was the maximum - I couldn't really squeeze more. Vinokourov pulled the beginning of the last climb hard. Too hard for me. But I didn't panic. I know myself that later on the climb I'd be getting better and others less.
Ideally a climb for me would last a few miles longer. At last I felt stronger, but then Menchov left and I could no longer accelerate. That was a shame, but the attachment helps morale. I'm only really good above 1,800 metres and this was only 1,300. It wasn't high enough.
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