Cadel Evans said that his attack on stage eight wasn't planned, and that was confirmed by comments made by Silence-Lotto director Henrik Redant on the morning of the stage.
With his team leader sitting at 18th overall, 3:07 behind the Astana juggernaut, Redant saw little opportunity for Evans to gain time until the race heads to Switzerland at the end of next week.
"The race is blocked now for a week," Redant said in Andorra, dismissing Saturday's and Sunday's Pyrenean stages.
"Nothing will happen today," he confidently predicted. "Nothing will happen until Verbier. A guy will win today but nothing will happen to affect overall classification."
Barely an hour later, Evans was on the attack. To be fair to Redant, he had said that his team leader would seek opportunities to make up his time, saying "he will be aggressive – he will attack," but adding: "You can't go running around like a chicken with no head – you have to think about it."
If there was a criticism of Evans' move it was certainly not that it lacked ambition, but that it didn't appear to be thought through, given the distance from the summit of the first climb to the finish – around 150km.
Redant also suggested that, in order for a non-Astana rider to win the Tour, other teams will have to join forces. "But it can't be pre-planned," he said, "it will have to happen on the road, if the opportunity is there."
"The other teams will have to work together," added Redant. "Not everyone has three or four leaders like Astana. If you really want to achieve something, you must work together."
Perhaps trying to emulate Floyd Landis in his epic 130km breakaway of 2006, Evans gambled, but found no allies in the ultimately futile move. When he was caught, it was Caisse d'Epargne's Luis Leon Sanchez, not Evans, who would break free to take the stage win and make up nearly two minutes in the general classification.
On the suspected alliance between Sanchez' good friend Alberto Contador (Astana) and the Caisse d'Epargne team, Redant was less than enthusiastic. "I thought when Cadel attacked [on the climb to the finish of Friday's stage] it was weird that Caisse d'Epargne chased. It was the same situation in the Dauphiné Libéré, when Cadel attacked and Contador closed the gap for [Caisse d'Epargne's team leader] Alejandro Valverde.
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Richard Moore is a freelance journalist and author. His first book, In Search of Robert Millar (HarperSport), won Best Biography at the 2008 British Sports Book Awards. His second book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes (HarperSport), was long-listed for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year.
He writes on sport, specialising in cycling, and is a regular contributor to Cyclingnews, the Guardian, skyports.com, the Scotsman and Procycling magazine.
He is also a former racing cyclist who represented Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and Great Britain at the 1998 Tour de Langkawi
His next book, Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France, will be published by Yellow Jersey in May 2011.
Another book, Sky’s the Limit: British Cycling’s Quest to Conquer the Tour de France, will also be published by HarperSport in June 2011.
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