By Gregor Brown in Prato Nevoso
Team CSC boss Bjarne Riis praised the "perfect" team-work of his riders that allowed Fränk Schleck to take yellow on stage 15 of the Tour de France to Prato Nevoso. As expected, the Danish squad flexed its collective muscle in the Italian Alps, placing three men in the final 10-rider move and allowing both Fränk Schleck and Carlos Sastre to gain time on an outnumbered Cadel Evans by the finish.
"It was okay," said Riis with a grin. "We wanted to put the pressure on and we also knew the climb was not that difficult. We need more climbs to make more selection in the group. I think it worked out great. It was good to see Carlos up there, he put the pressure on and Fränk could take advantage of that - it was perfect."
On the climb's lower slopes, the stinging pace set by Andy Schleck, the younger of the Schleck brothers, had put Evans into difficulty, before Sastre launched an attack with Denis Menchov, Bernhard Kohl and Alejandro Valverde.
"I think he did an excellent job," Riis said of Andy Schleck. "I was happy to see him work so hard for the team and then stay up there to fight until the end. He showed his class."
The race takes its second of two rest days tomorrow in Cuneo, where Riis will sit down with his riders and plan the two remaining alpine stages to Jausiers and L'Alpe d'Huez. Riis said his team was not worried about defending the race lead, but knows it will need to take more time out of Menchov and Evans before the final 53 kilometre time trial at Saint Amand Montrond.
"The next two days won't be any different because we are following our plan whether or not we have the yellow," said Riis "We have a rest day tomorrow and then we will think about what we will do. We need a little bit more time, we know that. But we still have a couple of days where we can try to do the best we can. Maybe it will happen, maybe not."