Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) leads Alberto Contador (Astana) up the climb
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Drama as overall standings are shaken and stirred
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - eighth on stage, third overall @ 2:00: Again it was a very hard day; it seemed that the Balès would never end. I suffered a lot, but we finished the day with a bang.
Keeping the podium spot will be very complicated - Menchov is very strong and he is a great rider.
There is a lot of talk about an incident in the race [Schleck's mechanical]; I believe that we shouldn't focus on something that is natural in cycling - tomorrow it could happen to me or anyone else...
In the race, I didn't know if Andy had a problem or not. He started very strong, Contador went after him, then Menchov moved... From the TV it sure looks great, but in the race, at 200 beats a minute, with thousands of screaming fans on the road... The instinct is telling you to go with the big move and mark the man.
Lloyd Mondory (AG2R-La Mondiale) - fourth on stage, 104th overall @ 2:12:08: It has been a while since I wanted to show I could do anything other than sprints. I battled for 80km to be in the break and eventually I was smiling.
When there was the first big acceleration, I tried to manage and set a good pace as it was impossible to follow the climbers. Eventually, I didn't lose much time. I'm hooked, I rode a good descent and I gave everything.
When the group behind caught us I said: 'No, I'm not going to sit up and I should pick up fourth place for me and the team. It is a day which is good for the morale after the difficult beginning of the Tour de France. The Tour started well but I spent a lot of time after Brussels recovering from my fall.
In this type of stage, my role in the team is getting bottles and protecting Nicolas Roche in the valley to be in the best possible shape at the foot of climbs. Today, I was able to escape... I really wanted to be ahead, especially since I am going to see my children and wife tonight.
Now, I'll do the utmost to help Nicolas Roche take the best possible place overall. And then, AG2R La Mondiale will continue to move forward. Yesterday Christophe [Riblon] had his day of glory, it could be that today and tomorrow I will have another.
We want to honour our sponsor who is one of the most faithful in the peloton. Their grace means that we can do the job that we love and we have always dreamt of doing. This is the least we can do - giving everything we can during these three weeks of the Tour de France.
Luke Roberts (Team Milram) - fifth on stage, 92nd overall @ 2:04:44: The first hour and a half were once again enormously difficult. There were permanent attacks in which we took part, like the day before. For the decisive attack, I thought - now or never!
I was overjoyed to come over the top of the climb with Contador. Then I knew that I would get a top placing. Fifth place after this hard day is simply sensational.
Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) - second on stage, 79th overall @ 1:43:33: "I was feeling good today, but Voeckler was too strong when he attacked. I couldn't follow him so I tried to go my pace.
I hope this good form is going to help me in the last week and in the races after the Tour.
Aitor Pérez Arrieta (Footon-Servetto) - third on stage, 81st overall @ 1:46:07: I'm very happy with this podium place. I felt rather good all day long, but I think I missed a rider in that break, even two if you count on Ballan's final sprint, but still I showed I'm able to fight for a victory in such a Tour de France.
You may say I lacked quite a bit to notch up the win, but at least I gave my best and that's why I'm happy. I could stand that first selection in Balès, but Voeckler was really strong. I didn't see him so fit in previous stages, but when you see this kind of rider giving his best, you can understand those are real winners.
It was difficult to bridge that gap in Ballan when I dropped, but I managed to recover and do the end of the climb at my pace, I think I was good there. After all, I think Voeckler had a better point than all of us to get into the break, but I'm proud of what I did.
You have to contest every single place and that's why I sprinted so hard against Ballan; this podium will not make it into the history books, but it's a big personal achievement. The goal from now is reaching Paris, but now I'm only thinking about tomorrow's stage, because we have to tackle the Peyresourde right from the start and it's going to be really tough.
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - 24th on stage, 13th overall @ 9:02: The second stage in the Pyrenees was really fast. The first 100km seemed more like a motorbike than a bike race. We were riding at average speeds of over 47km/h over terrain that was not exactly flat.
Afterwards, when the breakaway took place, the peloton stopped a little and at the end of the race, with the Port de Balès, the pace was oppressive, it was really hard. In today's stage we've seen changes in the general classification and a lot of riders who are starting to feel tired, myself included, after a very hot Tour de France ridden at lightning speeds.
I'm getting closer to the top riders and that gives me a special motivation after all the problems I suffered at the start of the race. In that sense, I'm feeling really very happy.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) 36th on stage, 22nd overall @ 16:16: I'm a bit tired and sore today. I don't know what's going on.
My tape [on a fractured elbow] and stuff fell off. I'm getting skin problems from having so much treatment and having tape holding things together. It's one ailment or the other but I'm still hanging in there. Tomorrow's another day.
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