Riis estimates Schleck and Sastre need three minutes on Evans
By Brecht Decaluwé in Pau, France
The CSC-Saxo Bank team narrowly missed out on gaining the yellow jersey after an impressive offensive on the slopes of the Col du Tourmalet and the later the climb of stage ten to the Hautacam ski resort. With Fränk Schleck now just one second behind new maillot jaune Cadel Evans, the team will look to the Alpine stages to launch its next big push to seize the Tour de France lead.
"One second is nothing. Close your eyes and open them again, that's the difference," Fränk Schleck said. The Luxembourg champion survived a frightening crash during the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse, but wasn't planning on taking his rival down during one of the next stages. "I'm not going to crash Cadel Evans to get the jersey," Schleck joked, but knows that gaining that single second back on Evans will not be easy.
"Does anybody know an option to win a second on him? I've always dreamed about winning the Tour de France and now I'm only one second away from wearing the yellow jersey. There's still ten days to try and get it."
The Danish team went into the Hautacam stage with its three leaders, Carlos Sastre, and brothers Fränk and Andy Schleck, clustered at tenth, eleventh and twelfth overall, but more than a minute and a half down on Evans who was then second on the overall classification.
Director sportif Scott Sunderland told Cyclingnews that CSC had marked the tenth stage as the day where they would "put the hammer down" and try to break up the race. The high pace on the Col du Tourmalet set by Jens Voigt dislodged Caisse d'Epargne's GC hopefuls Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Pereiro as well as Lampre's leader Damiano Cunego.
The surge also cost the CSC team one if its leaders when Andy Schleck failed to keep the pace of the main group of contenders and conceded nearly nine minutes to the stage winner. He will now have to settle for a role as lieutenant, while Sastre and 28 year-old Fränk Schleck are now the team's major contenders for the general classification.
Looking back on the climb to Hautacam, Fränk Schleck explained that he probably used too much energy to jump away from the Evans group in order to take the yellow jersey. "When I went with Piepoli it was really hard. I paid for that in the end. I had to let go off them as I was 'à bloc'," Schleck said he was riding on his limit.