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The four remaining members of the day's break included Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux).
Torturous day in the Alps tires the peloton
Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - eighth on stage, third overall @ 2:45: It was very hard and I suffered a lot [today]. I had some very bad moments on both the Madeleine and in the last few miles towards the finish. Now I'm only thinking about recovery - I am very tired.
Such efforts are often expensive and you pay for them at the Tour. I should take it day by day and with great respect, as there are people who are stronger than me and I have to stay calm. I have to take third place overall with much serenity because there is still a world to Paris - we must keep our feet on the ground.
Alberto Contador (Team Astana) - sixth on stage, second overall @ 41 seconds: Today was a nice stage; [the col de la] Madeleine was very hard and many people lost time. Once again it shows that the rest day is very dangerous.
I could take time over many [riders] in the general classification; Andy is still the most dangerous, but it is always better to be ahead than behind everyone.
There are still many riders who can be come through on a breakaway and there are many stages to attack from far away. I should not be distracted, but like I said yesterday, the most dangerous is Andy Schleck.
Carlos Sastre (Cervélo TestTeam) - 27th on stage, 15th overall @ 7:13: Today was a very difficult stage for me and I didn't know what to expect. I had a good rest day Monday. I tried to do the right things. I trained well, but I didn't feel good from the start of the stage and I suffered as much as I could.
Even though I had faint hopes of staying with the best in this Tour, now I believe it's frankly quite difficult. I haven't given up hope or stopped enjoying what the Tour is, but I see that I am in a difficult position.
Now I will think in another manner. There are still a lot of mountain stages, hard stages and maybe I can have a good moment and I can be ahead. I will try to leave my stamp on this race that for me always has been the most important and one that I've always tried to enjoy.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) - second on stage, eighth overall @ 4:41: On such a long and difficult stage it was obvious that some riders would attack at the very beginning. We decided to go with such a break because our idea was to try and gain so much time as possible for the general classification.
Christophe Moreau and Iván Gutiérrez, who did a fantastic job today, helped me the entire day with that goal on their mind and then I gave it all in the Madeleine. On the flat they told me from the car that I had to go for the stage win instead but when you change your plans at the last moment it's difficult that things go the way you want them to go.
Nevertheless I decided to stay in the wheels to recover after so many efforts but at the moment of the sprint I had no strength left and I want to congratulate Casar because he was the best and the fastest in the final 200 metres.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) third on stage, 57th overall @ 44:52: My feelings are a mix of disappointment, for having missed a very good chance to break the spell that hasn't allowed me to win a stage in the Tour de France, and of pride, for having battled with all my energies.
The early kilometres of the race were hot, I missed the first breakaway because of the puncture; then I was ready to join the second attack, but the bunch didn't gave us the chance to escape. I couldn't follow the third attempt, which became the decisive one, but I was able to overcome that thanks to the generosity of my companions, who managed to bring me to the front of the race and then just think about riding in the best possible way.
I knew that in the sprint I felt could achieve the goal of winning and I knew well that Casar and Leon Sanchez were very fast too: unluckily, when the French rider began the sprint, I couldn't reply quickly and so another chance was missed.
Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) - 159th on stage, 138th overall @ 1:28:06: It was another hard stage. It was very hot again. I was able to take the points in the first intermediate sprint. Then I was suffering with a small stomach problem, but I feel OK now.
We always count the minutes of the first group and calculate the speed of the peloton to make sure we can make the time limit. We have experience with this and we work together to meet the time limit.
I am looking forward to some easier stages after the Alps. The mountain stages are very hard. Maybe there will be a sprint before the Pyrénées, so I hope to be there.