Reaction from stage 17

Alberto Contador (Astana) - second on stage, first overall

"It was a pity [about Andreas Klöden]. I had spoken with Johan Bruyneel, who told me that I should speak with Andreas and he [Klöden] told me that I should attack if I wanted. I was thinking to go ahead alone or with Andy, but the only one that was behind was Andreas. Because of it I decided to stop, to see if he was coming back, but he couldn't and lost a lot of time.

"Andreas said to me that I could attack, no problem, but the brothers Schleck surprised me very much and when I saw that Andreas was in difficulty I stopped [attacking]. I looked back to see if Klöden was coming, and because he didn't I am very disapointed.

"I knew that they were going to attack me. I decided to continue with them; Frank did the sprint and I preferred to be conservative and to think about tomorrow's time trial. Wiggins was my main rival for the time trial and now the differences are comfortable enough.

"The Schleck brothers are in great condition, but they aren't so good in the time trial. Tomorrow is a long time trial and both Andreas and Lance are strong and they are going to be there, fighting for the podium.

"There are still three complicated stages, including a time trial, and it's still a big task to win. It was a very dangerous stage and today I have taken an important step because riders behind me in the general [classification] are not very good in the time trial, although by no means is the Tour won yet."

Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - 18th on stage, 10th overall @ 10:50

"I knew it was going to be a difficult stage, a very hard one where I could feel the effort of the race yesterday. The result was positive, however. I managed to get among the top 10 on the general [classification]. To do that on a day when I wasn't feeling very good is not bad.

"I suffered from the beginning but it was worth it. The team has worked like 10 men, with four companions in the escape and the other three remaining with me. They have done a terrific job tirelessly and I'm very grateful."

Bjarne Riis (Team Saxo Bank directeur sportif)

"This is one of the greatest days I've ever experienced during the Tour de France. We knew what we wanted with this stage which was planned before the Tour even began.

The plan was quite clear and simple. We were willing to put everything on the line to explode the peloton and so we did. The two brothers are enormously strong together and we are looking forward to experiencing what might happen on the stage to Ventoux."

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) - 25th on stage, 13th overall @ 11:39

"This stage of the Tour was perhaps the best suited to my conditions and it was the day that I've been looking forward to most since the beginning of the race. It was a really hard day; a stage where we had a bit of everything: wind, rain... It's been a tough day in which my team mate Thor Hushovd made an impressive bid at securing the green jersey, which was one of the team's aims in this race.

"I went out with the intention of going for the lead on Col de Romme, because although the race was actually going really fast, I was perhaps the one who was best suited to the nature of this pass because of my conditions and my way of riding.

"I didn't think twice and tried to make a move right at the bottom. I had a bit of help from my team mate Thor, who helped me out for a few metres, but they were coming up fast from behind and after trying to make a move on several occasions I couldn't keep up with the pace and had to shift back into my own gear and try to finish the stage as well as I could at my own pace. I tried not to waste too much time with them because I knew today that my chances in this Tour had come to an end.

"I feel satisfied and relaxed, and above all I'm pleased that I was able to give it a try. Congratulations to Alberto. He's proved to be a strong leader. And well done to his team too, which has managed to control the race with ease. Now we're coming to the end of this Tour de France and I'm going to try and finish it with the same enthusiasm as when I started it."

Christian Knees (Team Milram) - 31st on stage, 20th overall @ 24:15

"That was a damned hard day for us all. Right from the start, we started ascending at a high tempo. With Linus, we had a man in the lead group. Unfortunately this group didn't come through. I tried to stay in the field s long as possible. Then I just rode my own rhythm to the end."

Nicki Sørensen (Saxo Bank) - 50th on stage, 28th overall @ 35:58

"It was a team effort and we managed to communicate along the way and we did what we had in us to create great havoc in the group in which we succeeded. Of course, I am tired like all my teammates and I am looking forward to get some rest before another important stage on Saturday".

Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi) - 143rd on stage, 65th overall @ 1:20:21

"The day started well, with good representation in the escape, but on the descent it went bad. I hit my hip very hard and it hurts a lot. The ground was wet, and when Menchov skated I couldn't dodge him. For a moment I doubted whether I could even finish the stage, the pain was very intense, but I had to get on the bike and aim [for the finish]."

Linus Gerdemann (Team Milram) - 56th on stage, 25th overall @ 28:49

"That was a special stage for me, since I celebrated the biggest success of my career so far here two years ago. It was clear to me that I would take risks today. The escape group didn't work together well, though. Instead of trying to build up our lead over the chasers, there were too many attacks."

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