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An exciting Tour takes a well deserved breather

Cadel Evans has the maillot jaune by a single second

Cadel Evans has the maillot jaune by a single second (Image credit: AFP)

A single second separate the top two, Cadel Evans and Fränk Schleck, after a good week of racing and with two days in the high mountains already completed. The most suspenseful Tour for years heads into the first rest day with a lot of questions unanswered. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes and Bjorn Haake recap the first ten stages.

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) became the first Australian since Robbie McEwen in 2004 to take over the yellow jersey. Evans fought bravely up the tough climb of Hautacam to save a single second on Fränk Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank). The latter was in attacking mood, but cracked towards the top. The showdown in Hautacam capped a week that had more surprises than most Tours in recent years.

In fact, the first surprise happened back in October when the route was announced. The lack of a prologue, a team time trial and in fact a long first time trial should have seen the sprinters dominate the first half of the week and the climbers the second half.

Instead, it was riders like Alejandro Valverde and Kim Kirchen who mixed it up with the fast-legged sprinters. When Robbie McEwen finally did manage to win a bunch sprint it was only for fifth place, after the sprinters' teams had failed to control a four-man break in stage three.

The next surprise was Stefan Schumacher, who beat all the favourites in the time trial, ahead of the equally unexpected Kim Kirchen. The vanquished stars against the clock included World Champion Fabian Cancellara and time trial specialist David Millar.

Thor Hushovd once and Mark Cavendish twice finally did prove that there was something to get for the fast men, while Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) gladdened French hearts with a stage victory into Nantes on day three. The French had more to celebrate, as Romain Feillu took over the yellow jersey, even if just for a day.

Saunier Duval dominated the three mountain stages held thus far, Riccardo Riccò triumphing on the sixth stage to Super Besse and on stage nine to Bagnères-de-Bigorre. His team-mates Leonardo Piepoli and Juan Jose Cobo took the first two places on Monday's stage to Hautacam, spoiling Bastille Day for France. The riders will all take a well-earned rest day before setting out on what is going to be a very interesting four days of transitional stages.

For the complete wrap-up from stages 1-10, click here.

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