Stage win and fifth overall for older Schleck
Luxembourg's Fränk Schleck failed to make the final Tour de France podium after the race's last decisive day on Mont Ventoux on Saturday. He attacked his rivals at the base of the climb and succeeded in moving from sixth to fifth overall.
"We tried everything. We were attacking like bananas at the bottom of the climb," said Schleck. "Constant attacks were the only thing we could do to drop guys like Lance Armstrong or Bradley Wiggins, time trialists who can keep a steady rhythm."
Schleck started the day in sixth overall. He was 38 seconds behind third place Armstrong (Astana), 23 seconds from Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) and 21 seconds from Andreas Klöden (Astana). His brother and Saxo Bank teammate, Andy, was second overall by 4:11 behind Alberto Contador (Astana).
Saxo Bank led up to the base of the 22.1-kilometre climb to put Fränk in an attacking position and protect Andy. Fränk started the attacks with 13 kilometres remaining, but Armstrong immediately responded.
Andy continued the attacks, with about seven separate attempts to drop the duo's rivals.
"We dropped (Andreas) Klöden (Astana) and we dropped Wiggins, but I missed fourth by two seconds. To be fourth would have hurt even more than being fifth, though," said Fränk.
Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank) won the stage from an break. He beat his companion in the break, Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC) and collected 38 seconds on the classification favourites. Andy Schleck, Contador, Armstrong and Fränk Schleck finished third through sixth.
Fränk gained 20 seconds on Wiggins and 59 seconds on Klöden. He had had enough to pass Klöden for fifth, but the classification's top four stayed the same: Contador, Andy Schleck, Armstrong and Wiggins.
Last year Fränk Schleck finished fifth and his brother 11th overall. This year it was fifth and second. Fränk also won a stage and Andy topped the young riders' classification for a second year.
"Both of us came to win the Tour, but the team had a really good first week with Fabian Cancellara in the lead and we had three stage wins."
Fränk also wore the leader's yellow jersey for two days last year. His team won the overall with Carlos Sastre, who now races for Cervélo TestTeam.
The 2009 editions will end Sunday with a flat stage into Paris that should see the overall classification stay the same.
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