Skip to main content

Riccò wins second mountain stage via solo Col d'Aspin flyer alla Pantani

Image 1 of 112

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) takes the win

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) takes the win
(Image credit: AFP)
Image 2 of 112

The peloton was fast in the flatter parts

The peloton was fast in the flatter parts
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 3 of 112

Evans is paced back by his team

Evans is paced back by his team
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 4 of 112

Evans needed treatment after his spill

Evans needed treatment after his spill
(Image credit: AFP)
Image 5 of 112

Riccò hit the descent at full speed

Riccò hit the descent at full speed
(Image credit: AFP)
Image 6 of 112

Euskaltel took control today

Euskaltel took control today
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 7 of 112

Sunflower fields accompanied the riders

Sunflower fields accompanied the riders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 8 of 112

A chatty bunch in the early part – will they still laugh tomorrow?

A chatty bunch in the early part – will they still laugh tomorrow?
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 9 of 112

Evans needed treatment after his spill

Evans needed treatment after his spill
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 10 of 112

Evans feels the pain as the doc applies the disinfectant.

Evans feels the pain as the doc applies the disinfectant.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 11 of 112

Dr. Gerard Porte treats Evans' left shoulder after the Australian crashed hard in a left-hand bend.

Dr. Gerard Porte treats Evans' left shoulder after the Australian crashed hard in a left-hand bend.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 12 of 112

Dr. Gerard Porte has been with the Tour for a long time and the riders are happy they can get treatment while not losing contact with the peloton. Treatment at 40km/h is something else!

Dr. Gerard Porte has been with the Tour for a long time and the riders are happy they can get treatment while not losing contact with the peloton. Treatment at 40km/h is something else!
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 13 of 112

A bloody Evans radios in about his condition and tells the team management he'll be alright.

A bloody Evans radios in about his condition and tells the team management he'll be alright.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 14 of 112

The French take their time when eating and will interrupt the meal for Le Tour, of course.

The French take their time when eating and will interrupt the meal for Le Tour, of course.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 15 of 112

Evans will need a new jersey after this stage!

Evans will need a new jersey after this stage!
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 16 of 112

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) pedals along and is closely shadowed by Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), who was the first to attack. He was then dropped and also sparked the attacking that saw his team-mate Sebastian Lang being caught just one kilometre from the top.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) pedals along and is closely shadowed by Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), who was the first to attack. He was then dropped and also sparked the attacking that saw his team-mate Sebastian Lang being caught just one kilometre from the top.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 17 of 112

Mountain man David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) sits behind the Euskaltel AVE

Mountain man David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) sits behind the Euskaltel AVE
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 18 of 112

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) had a relaxed day in the bunch.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) had a relaxed day in the bunch.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 19 of 112

Scenic mountain passes are always part of the Tour.

Scenic mountain passes are always part of the Tour.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 20 of 112

A Gerolsteiner fan shouts encouragement to Sebastian Lang who came within four point of the polka dot.

A Gerolsteiner fan shouts encouragement to Sebastian Lang who came within four point of the polka dot.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 21 of 112

Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) did a great ride and won the most aggressive rider award of the day.

Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) did a great ride and won the most aggressive rider award of the day.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 22 of 112

The peloton in the mountains always is a lot smaller than in the flat stages.

The peloton in the mountains always is a lot smaller than in the flat stages.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 23 of 112

The group of favourites masters a switchback.

The group of favourites masters a switchback.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 24 of 112

Kim Kirchen (Columbia) didn't have the best of days but was strong enough to sit in with the group.

Kim Kirchen (Columbia) didn't have the best of days but was strong enough to sit in with the group.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 25 of 112

Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked late and finished second.

Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) attacked late and finished second.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 26 of 112

A polka dot fan admires Riccò as he whizzes by towards the col d'Aspin.

A polka dot fan admires Riccò as he whizzes by towards the col d'Aspin.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 27 of 112

Riccò's attack was impressive

Riccò's attack was impressive
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 28 of 112

Riccò hit the descent at full speed

Riccò hit the descent at full speed
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 29 of 112

Riccò went all out in the final kilometres and withstood the headwind and the chasers.

Riccò went all out in the final kilometres and withstood the headwind and the chasers.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 30 of 112

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) takes the win after a brilliant solo ride.

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) takes the win after a brilliant solo ride.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 31 of 112

Riccò thanks the heavens for his win

Riccò thanks the heavens for his win
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 32 of 112

Riccò checks on his opponents anytime.

Riccò checks on his opponents anytime.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 33 of 112

Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld) before the start.

Félix Rafael Cárdenas (Barloworld) before the start.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 34 of 112

John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld)

John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 35 of 112

John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld) gets ready to roll

John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld) gets ready to roll
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 36 of 112

The start scene

The start scene
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 37 of 112

Cunego starts

Cunego starts
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 38 of 112

Everything centred around Riccò today.

Everything centred around Riccò today.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 39 of 112

Sunflower fields accompanied the riders

Sunflower fields accompanied the riders
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 40 of 112

The peloton was fast

The peloton was fast
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 41 of 112

Today the weather was better.

Today the weather was better.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 42 of 112

Robert Hunter (Barloworld) powers along

Robert Hunter (Barloworld) powers along
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 43 of 112

A chatty bunch in the early part

A chatty bunch in the early part
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 44 of 112

But they were going fast anyway

But they were going fast anyway
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 45 of 112

Euskaltel took control today

Euskaltel took control today
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 46 of 112

The peloton in the valley

The peloton in the valley
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 47 of 112

Euskaltel led the bunch through south western France.

Euskaltel led the bunch through south western France.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 48 of 112

Evans goes down a descent

Evans goes down a descent
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 49 of 112

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) rolls through France

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) rolls through France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 50 of 112

The break of the day is led by Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and followed by Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) and Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner).

The break of the day is led by Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and followed by Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) and Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner).
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 51 of 112

The bunch near the water

The bunch near the water
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 52 of 112

Cycling attracts young and old

Cycling attracts young and old
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 53 of 112

French country side impression

French country side impression
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 54 of 112

Evans is paced back by Silence after his crash.

Evans is paced back by Silence after his crash.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 55 of 112

A French cycling fan

A French cycling fan
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 56 of 112

Kirchen on flat section before the final climb.

Kirchen on flat section before the final climb.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 57 of 112

Riccò's second attack

Riccò's second attack
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 58 of 112

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) worked hard for Riccò.

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) worked hard for Riccò.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 59 of 112

Riccò storms up the hill

Riccò storms up the hill
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 60 of 112

Riccò passes an exhausted De La Fuente

Riccò passes an exhausted De La Fuente
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 61 of 112

Riccò came flying by everyone at tremendous speed.

Riccò came flying by everyone at tremendous speed.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 62 of 112

The fans went nuts

The fans went nuts
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 63 of 112

Riccò resembled Pantani

Riccò resembled Pantani
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 64 of 112

Riccò less than a kilometre from the top of the Aspin. Lang is dropped.

Riccò less than a kilometre from the top of the Aspin. Lang is dropped.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 65 of 112

Riccò on the descent

Riccò on the descent
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 66 of 112

Riccò drops the rest

Riccò drops the rest
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 67 of 112

Riccò climbs the hill fast

Riccò climbs the hill fast
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 68 of 112

Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) on the climb

Sylvester Szmyd (Lampre) on the climb
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 69 of 112

Riccò wins

Riccò wins
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 70 of 112

Riccò wins it!

Riccò wins it!
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 71 of 112

Riccò crosses the line

Riccò crosses the line
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 72 of 112

An outstanding win by the Italian

An outstanding win by the Italian
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 73 of 112

Look at ME

Look at ME
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 74 of 112

Riccò ha.d picked stage nine beforehand as his stomping ground

Riccò ha.d picked stage nine beforehand as his stomping ground
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 75 of 112

Riccò celebrates his second win in this year's Tour.

Riccò celebrates his second win in this year's Tour.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 76 of 112

Riccò exhausted after the race

Riccò exhausted after the race
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 77 of 112

Riccò drinks some well-deserved water after his escape.

Riccò drinks some well-deserved water after his escape.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 78 of 112

Kirchen struggled but finished with the group.

Kirchen struggled but finished with the group.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 79 of 112

Evans was bleeding after his crash.

Evans was bleeding after his crash.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 80 of 112

A smiling Cunego finished with the front runners.

A smiling Cunego finished with the front runners.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 81 of 112

Andy Schleck shows the efforts after having mastered the first high mountains of the Tour.

Andy Schleck shows the efforts after having mastered the first high mountains of the Tour.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 82 of 112

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) is glad the first mountains are passed.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) is glad the first mountains are passed.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 83 of 112

Riccò applauds and smiles

Riccò applauds and smiles
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 84 of 112

Bernard Hinault congratulates Riccò, no doubt approving of the aggressive racing by the Italian.

Bernard Hinault congratulates Riccò, no doubt approving of the aggressive racing by the Italian.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 85 of 112

Hushovd gets some help while going back to the team car.

Hushovd gets some help while going back to the team car.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 86 of 112

Cyril Dessel (AG2R) is looking forward to the road heading up.

Cyril Dessel (AG2R) is looking forward to the road heading up.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 87 of 112

Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) clearly forgot to pack a razor.

Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) clearly forgot to pack a razor.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 88 of 112

Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) before he knew he would lose major time on the climbs.

Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) before he knew he would lose major time on the climbs.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 89 of 112

A red number for Most aggressive rider Laurent Lefevre.

A red number for Most aggressive rider Laurent Lefevre.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 90 of 112

Baden Cooke (Barloworld) hopes the barricades to get to his bike.

Baden Cooke (Barloworld) hopes the barricades to get to his bike.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 91 of 112

Simon Gerrans takes a picture while waiting for Florent Brard to sign in.

Simon Gerrans takes a picture while waiting for Florent Brard to sign in.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 92 of 112

Mark Cavendish was apprehensive before the start of the first big day of climbing.

Mark Cavendish was apprehensive before the start of the first big day of climbing.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 93 of 112

Frank Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) works his way through the sign-in crowd.

Frank Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) works his way through the sign-in crowd.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 94 of 112

Matteo Tosatto and Steven de Jongh (Quick Step) relax before the start.

Matteo Tosatto and Steven de Jongh (Quick Step) relax before the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 95 of 112

Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld) looks genuinely happy to be heading toward the mountains.

Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld) looks genuinely happy to be heading toward the mountains.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 96 of 112

Agritubel team-mates Eduardo Gonzalo and Nicolas Jalabert.

Agritubel team-mates Eduardo Gonzalo and Nicolas Jalabert.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 97 of 112

Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler is in his first Tour.

Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler is in his first Tour.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 98 of 112

Frank Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) has prescription inserts in his Oakleys.

Frank Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) has prescription inserts in his Oakleys.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 99 of 112

Luis Leon Sanchez inspects his bike before the start of stage nine.

Luis Leon Sanchez inspects his bike before the start of stage nine.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 100 of 112

Oscar Pereiro gives an interview before stage nine.

Oscar Pereiro gives an interview before stage nine.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 101 of 112

Romain Feillu (Agritubel) stretches before the start of stage nine.

Romain Feillu (Agritubel) stretches before the start of stage nine.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 102 of 112

Feillu gets his hammies ready for the stage ahead.

Feillu gets his hammies ready for the stage ahead.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 103 of 112

Evans had some technical problems with his bike at the start.

Evans had some technical problems with his bike at the start.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 104 of 112

The Silence-Lotto mechanic prepares Evans' bike.

The Silence-Lotto mechanic prepares Evans' bike.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 105 of 112

Cadel Evans signs an autograph at the start of stage nine.

Cadel Evans signs an autograph at the start of stage nine.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 106 of 112

Kuschinsky leads the break in Figarol.

Kuschinsky leads the break in Figarol.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 107 of 112

Euskaltel-Euskadi still chasing for some unknown reason.

Euskaltel-Euskadi still chasing for some unknown reason.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 108 of 112

Kuschinsky still leading the break as it heads through Figarol.

Kuschinsky still leading the break as it heads through Figarol.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 109 of 112

For some reason Euskaltel-Euskadi felt compelled to chase and chase, and chase.

For some reason Euskaltel-Euskadi felt compelled to chase and chase, and chase.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 110 of 112

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) looking not so happy in the bunch, still wrapped up from an earlier crash.

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) looking not so happy in the bunch, still wrapped up from an earlier crash.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 111 of 112

Snack time for a Quick Step rider.

Snack time for a Quick Step rider.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)
Image 112 of 112

Yoann Le Boulanger (FdJ) eats some baked goods.

Yoann Le Boulanger (FdJ) eats some baked goods.
(Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Kirchen holds on to maillot jaune while Evans survives tumble

Italy's Riccardo Riccò opened up the throttle to distance his rivals on the Tour de France's Col d'Aspin in a move similar to the late Marco Pantani to gain a solo win in Bagnères de Bigorre. The chase including classification favourites finished over a minute behind Riccò and included race leader Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia) and a bruised Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), who crashed on the decent of the Col de Peyresourde.

Riccò had indicated that he is not at the Tour de France for the classification, and that fact must have put Team Silence-Lotto Evans' mind at ease when he saw the fiery Italian blaze up the road with 30 kilometres remaining overall and four kilometres to go until the top of the Col d'Aspin. The 31 year-old Australian, second overall in the race, crashed on a left-hand turn going on a slight downhill shortly following the race's feed-zone, at kilometre 106. Reports vary on whether it was due to a spectator's bag in his front wheel or due to Evans clipping the rear wheel of an Euskaltel rider.

"He had some sort of bag in his front wheel and it blocked it," claimed team-mate Christophe Brandt, who was just ahead of Evans when the crash occurred. "It was not a musette, but something from along the street. His front wheel stopped and he went over the bars."

Evans declined to comment following the stage while being ushered immediately to the team's car. He only indicated to gathered personnel not to touch his left shoulder.

During the stage, Evans received medical attention to his left shoulder and thigh some thirty kilometres later by race doctor Gerard Porte. The high-mountain passes of Col de Peyresourde (km 166.5) and Col d'Aspin (km 198) were still to come, but the 26-kilometre decent to the finish played into Evans' favour. Tomorrow, 156 kilometres to the mountaintop finish of Hautacam and the day before the race's first rest day, will be a different story and Evans will be looking to fend off the attacks that are sure to come.

Evans survived the Col de Peyresourde and braced himself for the attacks on the Col d'Aspin. Sebastian Lang of Team Gerolsteiner was the only rider left from an early escape and had some four minutes when Riccò started his show. Backing an earlier attack by team-mate David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval - Scott), Riccò gunned up the left side of the road with an acceleration that had many pundits recalling the late Pantani, winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

"We were talking yesterday and he said he wanted to try an attack similar to one of Pantani, and look, he followed through on his proposition," Piepoli said following the stage.

Riccò stormed past Lang with 1.1 kilometres to the top of the Col d'Aspin. He kept riding in a trance-like state to gain 35 seconds to Lang and 1'15" over the favourites' group by the 1489-metre summit.

"The Cobra" Riccò kept charging on the descent to preserve his advantage to the finishing line along Allée Jean Jaurès. Only Vladimir Efimkin of Team AG2R La Mondiale was able to work free of the chase group that was being led by Lampre. Efimkin finished at 1'03. His team-mate Dessel sprinted for third, 12 seconds later, ahead of the classification favourites.

Riccò had started the race with the stated ambition of taking a stage, but has now doubled that total. He also won the sixth stage to Super Besse.

"The others sort of looked at each other. I gave it everything I had and rode a time trial to the finish," said Riccò of Team Saunier Duval following his second Tour win in four days. His win came only one day after a crash midway through stage eight. "I did not feel the pain this morning after I had warmed up, and then I just had the itch to go out and win."

Riccò was one happy man at the finish. "It was a formidable stage. I have now two victories – I am super happy. I was impressive, I went very fast [on the final climb]. My directeur sportif was impressed with my power output the last three kilometres of the climb." He already has his eyes on the next stage. "We will look to tomorrow. [Leonardo] Piepoli is in great form. After that we just look day by day."

Missing from the top group was Thomas Lövkvist, who has been working tirelessly for Columbia team-mate Kim Kirchen. Therefore, Andy Schleck of Team CSC-Saxo Bank took over Lövkvist's maillot blanc of best young rider. Kirchen took back the point's lead maillot vert from Rabobank's Oscar Freire, but the jersey will remain with the Spaniard as Kirchen is still occupied with the yellow top of race leader for the moment.

Kirchen had a tough day in the saddle, appearing under pressure on several occasions, but he was happy to have survived another day in yellow. "I didn't have the best legs today. I was just concentrated on following the wheels." He was impressed with Riccò, but didn't think the Italian would figure in Paris. "Riccò is strong in the mountains, but he is not so good in the chronos [time trials - ed.]. 50 kilometres is long and he may lose three or four minutes."

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) – who started the day third overall – cracked on the final climb and slipped to fourth. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Chipotle H3O) consequently moved up to third place.

How it unfolded

The riders enjoyed the neutral start, rolling through the streets of Toulouse. They knew today would be a tough day, and it was their last chance to relax. And sure enough, the first attack happened right when the neutral zone ended. It contained David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott), who was trying to defend his polka dot jersey. David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom), Björn Schröder (Team Milram) and Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld) went with him. But their move was brought to a halt at kilometre 14.

Then, at kilometre 22, a trio with Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) and Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) went clear and quickly gained a minute.

The sprint in Saint-Sulpice-sur-Lèze after 29.5 kilometres was won by Kuschynski, ahead of Jalabert and Lang. The peloton passed the PMU sprint line 1'40 later.

The peloton was not interested in what the break was doing. The gap shot up to 5'40 at kilometre 37 and only 2.5 kilometres later it was 7'30. Next up was the Côte de Saint-Pey, after 42 kilometres.

Only four kilometres later the leaders passed the category four côte de Sainte-Quitterie. Again, Lang took the maximum points, this time ahead of Jalabert and Kuschynski. The laissez faire peloton rolled over the top 13'30 later.

The break never got a larger gap then 14'20 and with 77 kilometres covered it was down to 10'30. Over the côte de Mane, another category four climb, it was again Lang who got three points. Jalabert and Kuschynski followed, receiving two and one point, respectively. Despite the three climbs, the average after two hours was 43.2 km/h.

The sprint at kilometre 113 was won by Jalabert, ahead of Kuschynski and Lang. At the same time, 11 minutes behind, the bunch was winding its way though the feed zone. Only three kilometres later, the category four Col de Buret followed. Lang took the points ahead of Jalabert and Kuschynski.

After the feed zone the Euskaltel-led bunch sped through Aspet at high speeds. Too high for Gorka Verdugo, who crashed in a left hand bend, while helping the team with the pulling. Favourite Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) also came to grief, but was quickly back. He suffered a bleeding elbow and a torn jersey and shorts. The entire team dropped back to get him back to the bunch as fast as possible.

With 100 kilometres to go the leaders went over the next climb, the Col des Ares. Lang led Kuschynski over the top, with Jalabert in third. De La Fuente moved up to the front in the peloton, wanting to secure the final point available. Alexandre Botcharov (Crédit Agricole) moved out of the peloton before the top, but it was only to greet his family.

Approaching the top, Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) went clear to secure the final point of the climb. De La Fuente was left out in the cold this time.

With a little more than 80 kilometres to go Evans went to the car of Gerard Porte, the Tour doctor. Porte can work wonders from the passenger seat.

The gap had dropped to 10 minutes. That was also the gap when the break the first category one of this Tour, the col de Peyresourde. 13 kilometres and an average gradient of 7.1% awaited the riders.

Jalabert, unable to follow the other two, was the first to get into trouble. Then Lang also dropped Kuschynski and did the last five kilometres to the top by himself. He crested the summit 34 seconds ahead of Kuschynski. Another half minute later it was Jalabert. Maxime Monfort (Cofidis) and David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) shot out of the peloton. De La Fuente secured fourth place and nine points. He was still 12 points ahead of Lang in the mountains classification. Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d'Epargne) took sixth and was tied with Lang (both 31).

On the descent the group came together with Jalabert, De La Fuente, Monfort and Sánchez. Kuschynski was dangling in-between.

Lang tackled the final climb of the day, the col d'Aspin, two minutes ahead of Kuschynski, five minutes ahead of the chasers and six minutes ahead to the peloton.

When Lang's team-mate Stefan Schumacher attacked all hell broke loose. Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Scott) were the first to put pressure on some of the favourites. Race leader Kirchen was lucky to have Silence-Lotto pull for Cadel Evans and it came back together.

But the next attack by Riccò proved decisive. He flew by everyone, hands on the drops and with a kilometre to the top he passed leader Lang, who had nothing left. The peloton was 1'20 back. Lang hung on for second. Behind, his team-mate Bernhard Kohl attacked to get third, stealing a few more points from De La Fuente, he crested over the top in fourth. But it wasn't enough, as Lang was now still four points behind De La Fuente in the mountains classification.

Gerolsteiner got some more bad news when Schumacher was dropped on the ascent. His third place overall was in danger. All the other favourites were still there.

An attempt by Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) resulted in the Italian reaching Lang, but both got caught by the group of favourites.

After the descent it was a time trial of Riccò on the flat run-in to the finish, with the group behind doing a multi-team trial. Riccò's bike held up in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan (where Eugene Christophe got his repaired in 1913, after breaking his fork in the descent of the Tourmalet).

With 10 kilometres to go the gap was still at 1'20. There was no cohesion in the group behind. Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux) and Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale) used the lull to a counter, but only Efimkin was able to hang on to a slim lead.

With five kilometres to go, the gap between the group and Riccò was still 1'12, with Efimkin not more than half a dozen seconds ahead.

The outcome didn't change much, with Riccò taking a solo victory, 1'03 ahead of Efimkin. The main contenders came in at 1'17, except for third-placed Schumacher, who dropped to fourth.

Stage 10 - Monday, July 14: Pau - Hautacam, 156km

The peloton will see more high mountains in this stage which, despite being just 156 kilometres in length, should prove to be one of the toughest of this year's Tour. Despite a reasonably flat start, the stage finishes with the legendary ascents of the Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam. This stage should cause some real gaps to appear between the overall contenders as the favourites for victory in Paris start to show themselves.

Outside Paris and Bordeaux, Pau is the most-visited town for the Tour de France, featuring on the course no less than 61 times before. The first time was in 1930 too, meaning that have only been ten Tours since then that haven't called in at Pau. Last year – as with this year– the city was host to a stage start and a rest day, but the last time a stage finished here, in 2006, Spain's Juan Manuel Mercado (Agritubel) bested Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) in a two-up sprint. The Frenchman was consoled though by taking the yellow jersey for a few days.

Hautacam, a ski resort nestled above the pilgrimage centre of Lourdes, has been a stage finish three times before. The most recent, and most famous occasion was in 2000, when Javier Otxoa (Kelme) took the biggest win of his career. All the headlines went to the rampaging Lance Armstrong though as he stormed away from his rivals in the rain, taking the yellow jersey that he would hold all the way to Paris for his second victory.

This is the stage route used on the Etape du Tour, which was run on Sunday, July 6.

Latest on Cyclingnews