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Daring double act proves Schleck's class

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Fränk Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) wins stage 17 ahead of race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) and brother Andy Schleck .

Fränk Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) wins stage 17 ahead of race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) and brother Andy Schleck .
(Image credit: AFP)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) won stage 17 in Le Grand-Bornand.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) won stage 17 in Le Grand-Bornand.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) celebrates his stage win while brother and teammate Andy Schleck, third place behind Contador, looks equally as ecstatic.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) celebrates his stage win while brother and teammate Andy Schleck, third place behind Contador, looks equally as ecstatic.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) congratulates Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) after crossing the finish line.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) congratulates Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) after crossing the finish line.
(Image credit: AFP)
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George Hincapie (Team Columbia-HTC) negotiates wet roads in the French Alps.

George Hincapie (Team Columbia-HTC) negotiates wet roads in the French Alps.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Points leader Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) went on a solo attack to earn maximum points at an intermediate sprint line.

Points leader Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) went on a solo attack to earn maximum points at an intermediate sprint line.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) finish together.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) finish together.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) rides stage 17, cheered by fans.

Race leader Alberto Contador (Astana) rides stage 17, cheered by fans.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fränk and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) race uphill.

Fränk and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) race uphill.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The three leaders in stage 17 climb to success, dropping their other rivals.

The three leaders in stage 17 climb to success, dropping their other rivals.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) wins while his brother Andy celebrates behind him.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) wins while his brother Andy celebrates behind him.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fans cheer the leaders up the Col De La Colombiere.

Fans cheer the leaders up the Col De La Colombiere.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads two other riders to the finish.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads two other riders to the finish.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) wins stage 17.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) wins stage 17.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fränk and Andy Schleck lead race leader Alberto Contador on the Col de la Colombière.

Fränk and Andy Schleck lead race leader Alberto Contador on the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads his brother Fränk and Alberto Contador up the Col de la Colombière.

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads his brother Fränk and Alberto Contador up the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The leading trio ascend the day's final climb, the Col de la Colombière.

The leading trio ascend the day's final climb, the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Franco Pellizotti extended his mountains classification lead over Egoi Martinez.

Franco Pellizotti extended his mountains classification lead over Egoi Martinez.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Astana leads the peloton up the Col des Saisies.

Astana leads the peloton up the Col des Saisies.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) on the descent of the category one Col des Saisies.

Alberto Contador (Astana) on the descent of the category one Col des Saisies.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Lance Armstrong descends the Col des Saisies.

Lance Armstrong descends the Col des Saisies.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Schleck brothers, Fränk and Andy, finish first and third while Alberto Contador claimed second place.

The Schleck brothers, Fränk and Andy, finish first and third while Alberto Contador claimed second place.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) glances back at his brother Andy after winning stage 17.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) glances back at his brother Andy after winning stage 17.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Two pairs of Schleck arms are raised in victory at the finish in Le Grand-Bornand.

Two pairs of Schleck arms are raised in victory at the finish in Le Grand-Bornand.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) looks across to Lance Armstrong (Astana) after the pair finish fourth and fifth respectively.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) looks across to Lance Armstrong (Astana) after the pair finish fourth and fifth respectively.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) shake hands after a hard day of racing.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) shake hands after a hard day of racing.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andreas Klöden (Astana) finished in sixth place.

Andreas Klöden (Astana) finished in sixth place.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) crossed the finish line alone, 3:07 behind Contador and the Schleck brothers.

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) crossed the finish line alone, 3:07 behind Contador and the Schleck brothers.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) takes the stage in Le Grand-Bornand.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) takes the stage in Le Grand-Bornand.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) celebrates his stage win on the podium.

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) celebrates his stage win on the podium.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador handled all the Schleck brothers threw at him today as he remains firmly in the race lead.

Alberto Contador handled all the Schleck brothers threw at him today as he remains firmly in the race lead.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador exudes confidence on the podium.

Alberto Contador exudes confidence on the podium.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andy Schleck earned another white jersey for leading the young rider classification.

Andy Schleck earned another white jersey for leading the young rider classification.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) climbs the Col de la Colombière with Lance Armstrong (Astana) on his wheel.

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) climbs the Col de la Colombière with Lance Armstrong (Astana) on his wheel.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) put in a good ride to finish in fourth place.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) put in a good ride to finish in fourth place.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) and Brice Feillu (Agritubel) climb the Col de la Colombière.

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) and Brice Feillu (Agritubel) climb the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) amidst the thousands of fans lining the Col de la Colombière.

Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) amidst the thousands of fans lining the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) attacked to reach the intermediate sprint lines first.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) attacked to reach the intermediate sprint lines first.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) at the head of the break.

Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) at the head of the break.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is a bit banged up from crashing twice during stage 17.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) is a bit banged up from crashing twice during stage 17.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) lead the break up the Côte d'Araches.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Silence-Lotto) lead the break up the Côte d'Araches.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Linus Gerdemann (Team Milram) rides in the break up the Côte d'Araches.

Linus Gerdemann (Team Milram) rides in the break up the Côte d'Araches.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Astana, Saxo Bank and Garmin-Slipstream riders ascend the Côte d'Araches.

Astana, Saxo Bank and Garmin-Slipstream riders ascend the Côte d'Araches.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck look cool and collected on the Côte d'Araches.

Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck look cool and collected on the Côte d'Araches.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Lance Armstrong riders near yellow jersey Alberto Contador on the Côte d'Araches. David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) rides in front of teammate Bradley Wiggins.

Lance Armstrong riders near yellow jersey Alberto Contador on the Côte d'Araches. David Millar (Garmin-Slipstream) rides in front of teammate Bradley Wiggins.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andreas Klöden (Astana) ascends the Col de la Colombière after being dropped by the leading trio of Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Fränk Schleck.

Andreas Klöden (Astana) ascends the Col de la Colombière after being dropped by the leading trio of Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Fränk Schleck.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) climbs the Col de la Colombière.

Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) climbs the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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A rider's eye view of the finish in Le Grand-Bornand.

A rider's eye view of the finish in Le Grand-Bornand.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Contador checks the pressure on his back tire prior to the start.

Contador checks the pressure on his back tire prior to the start.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Astana) is a picture of concentration on the start line.

Alberto Contador (Astana) is a picture of concentration on the start line.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Saxo Bank teammates Stuart O'Grady and Fabian Cancellara set tempo on the Col des Saisies.

Saxo Bank teammates Stuart O'Grady and Fabian Cancellara set tempo on the Col des Saisies.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Franco Pellizotti is getting used to wearing polka dots.

Franco Pellizotti is getting used to wearing polka dots.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) arrives at the finish after attacking solo over some big climbs earlier in the stage to scoop up intermediate sprint points.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) arrives at the finish after attacking solo over some big climbs earlier in the stage to scoop up intermediate sprint points.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thor Hushovd enjoys another day in the green jersey.

Thor Hushovd enjoys another day in the green jersey.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Fans clamor around team buses at the start in Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

Fans clamor around team buses at the start in Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) in his new Italian national champion's jersey which meets his home federation's approval.

Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) in his new Italian national champion's jersey which meets his home federation's approval.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Thor Hushoved (Cervelo TestTeam) rides solo up the Col des Saisies in search of sprint points on the other side of the mountain.

Thor Hushoved (Cervelo TestTeam) rides solo up the Col des Saisies in search of sprint points on the other side of the mountain.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Andreas Klöden (Astana) was unable to keep pace with his teammate Alberto Contador and the Schlecks on the final climb.

Andreas Klöden (Astana) was unable to keep pace with his teammate Alberto Contador and the Schlecks on the final climb.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) finished 59th on the day, but was active in the early break to add to his mountains classification lead.

Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) finished 59th on the day, but was active in the early break to add to his mountains classification lead.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) is cheered to the summit of the Col de la Colombière.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) is cheered to the summit of the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vladimir Karpets (Team Katusha) climbs ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).

Vladimir Karpets (Team Katusha) climbs ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lance Armstrong (Astana) spies a Texas flag on the Col de la Colombière.

Lance Armstrong (Astana) spies a Texas flag on the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Christian Vande Velde paces Garmin-Slipstream teammate Bradley Wiggins up the Col de la Colombière.

Christian Vande Velde paces Garmin-Slipstream teammate Bradley Wiggins up the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) found plenty of fan support on the ascent of the day's final climb.

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) found plenty of fan support on the ascent of the day's final climb.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) in pursuit of Lance Armstrong (Astana) on the Col de la Colombière.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) in pursuit of Lance Armstrong (Astana) on the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The leading quartet ascend the day's final climb, the Col de la Colombière.

The leading quartet ascend the day's final climb, the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream).

Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads Lance Armstrong (Astana) and Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream).
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Schleck brothers lead Alberto Contador and Andreas Klöden on the Col de la Colombière.

The Schleck brothers lead Alberto Contador and Andreas Klöden on the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale) leads Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Christophe Le Mevel (Française des Jeux).

Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale) leads Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Christophe Le Mevel (Française des Jeux).
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi).

Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi).
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) ascends the Col de la Colombière.

Matthew Lloyd (Silence-Lotto) ascends the Col de la Colombière.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Russian champion and Tour stage winner Serguei Ivanov (Team Katusha).

Russian champion and Tour stage winner Serguei Ivanov (Team Katusha).
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Lance Armstrong chats with Diquigiovanni manager Gianni Savio prior to the start of stage 17.

Lance Armstrong chats with Diquigiovanni manager Gianni Savio prior to the start of stage 17.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Lance Armstrong (Astana) follow Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream).

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Lance Armstrong (Astana) follow Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream).
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tour veteran Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) finished in eighth place on the stage.

Tour veteran Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) finished in eighth place on the stage.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Maxime Monfort (Team Columbia-HTC) leads Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom).

Maxime Monfort (Team Columbia-HTC) leads Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom).
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Team Saxo Bank riders head the peloton on the descent of the Col des Saisies.

Team Saxo Bank riders head the peloton on the descent of the Col des Saisies.
(Image credit: Sirotti)

It was the second-to-last chance for the pure climbers to make their bid for overall victory. And being as such, everybody knew the prodigious Schleck brothers of Saxo Bank would attack on Wednesday's five-climb, 169.5-kilometre stage to Le Grand-Bornand.

"Bjarne Riis came up with a plan this morning. Fränk had no personal goals and he was there to help me," said Andy Schleck.

"We knew what we wanted with this stage, which was planned before the Tour even began," said Riis. "The plan was quite clear and simple: we were willing to put everything on the line and to explode the peloton."

Almost all who knew this also predicted they would force a move on the penultimate climb of the 8.8-kilometre-long Col de Romme. Together with the closely-linked 7.5-km Col de la Colombière, its summit just 15 fast kilometres from the finish, they created a virtual hors-catégorie climb of its own.

But apart from the maillot jaune of Alberto Contador, who was simply unflappable all day, there was not a thing their rivals could do.

And while its profile closely resembled the seventeenth stage of the 2004 Tour de France that also finished in Le Grand-Bornand, the outcome was completely different.

In 2004, Lance Armstrong - then riding for the US Postal team - won a stage he didn't need to en route to overall victory. Afterwards, he said after 'giving' away chances in the past with those favours rarely coming back to help him, the Texan decided it was now a case of "no more gifts". At the time, five-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault commended Armstrong, telling him it was the "perfect" thing to do.

But Wednesday in the same French alpine village nestled at the foot of the Aravis mountain range, Contador didn't even try to break free of the Schlecks. Despite possessing a sprint-finish not worth writing a word about, that's exactly what the maillot jaune waited for, his faux-lunge twenty metres from the line making it fairly obvious a gentleman's agreement had taken place for the elder Schleck to claim the stage - which Fränk took with open arms.

"It was very special and I want to give special thanks to Andy. I will help him get on the podium in Paris," Fränk Schleck said, who finished on the same time as second-placed Contador and his brother Andy, the stage run at a 34.604 km/h average.

Contador's 'gift' the best thing for him

What's also obvious is that Contador and Armstrong, teammates they may be, are completely different persons. And it just may be - even though he's not saying so - that Contador is supremely confident about taking his second Tour de France, now just four days from Paris. So confident that so long as he wins the major prize, he doesn't need to win - or care about winning - stages, and being non-confrontational, the Spaniard doesn't wish to engage in any potential conflict with Saxo Bank.

"Both the Schleck brothers were very strong, Andy as much as Fränk," said Contador. "I'd spoken about attacking them on the Colombière with Johan Bruyneel - the goal was to gain minutes. I'd also spoken with Andréas Klöden on the climb, and he told me to go for it.

"I thought I could go alone but the brothers managed to come back, so from there on, I decided to stay on their wheels. The Schlecks asked me to collaborate; I said no, because I had teammates behind. I knew the Schleck brothers would attack all the way to the finish, so I focused on staying with them and staying fresh for the time trial."

Astana DS Johan Bruyneel had a different recollection of events: "The attack from Contador, three k' from the top [of the Colombière], that was not really... I had advised not to go. He did not need to go, he did not need to attack."

Regardless, by consequence of the Schleck spectacular in the mountains, previous second and third on the classement générale - Armstrong (Astana) and Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) - were bumped to fourth and sixth and replaced by Andy and Fränk Schleck, 2:26 and 3:25 behind Contador, respectively. And at a minimum, Saxo Bank intends to keep Andy in second.

"It is a bike race: we saw in Paris-Nice that even a big champion like Contador can have a bad day and lose time. It is going to be hard to beat him, he is very strong. But he is human being and we are just waiting for him to make a mistake; if he has a mistake, we will be there," Fränk Schleck said.

Don't rule out Nibali, Armstrong, Klöden & Wiggo

It's not like Armstrong and Wiggins rode poorly, the Anglophone pair part of a chase group of four that formed on the Col de Romme along with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream). In the end, only Nibali and the American managed to finish together, 2:18 behind the lead trio to take fourth and fifth, with a third Astana-ite, Andréas Klöden, nine seconds in arrears. Garmin's GC pairing of Wiggins and Vande Velde would finish 3:07 and 4:09 behind Contador in seventh and ninth, respectively.

Asked if he was happy with his day, Armstrong responded: "Yes and no. I tried to be conservative on the Col de Romme. I did not go with those initial attacks, and then I got kind of stuck behind. Once you are 30 seconds back there is nothing you can do; you got to just sit on.

"I was a little concerned with Bradley Wiggins and the TT, so in the last kilometre over Colombière I decided to jump away," he said, the American all-star 30 seconds behind Fränk Schleck in fourth place on the overall standings. His teammate Klöden is fifth, a further 49 seconds behind the seven-time Tour champion.

Thursday's 40.5-kilometre time trial around Lake Annecy may switch things around a little at the top. However, it's a course that favours riders strong at the end of a three-week race rather than specialists against the clock, and the gaps shouldn't be too significant at the top of the leader board. Far more noteworthy will be Saturday's penultimate leg to Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence.

"On Ventoux, people will be more tired. The advantage is that we recover well and if the climb is steeper, it is better for us. We saw that today and Ventoux we will be up there," Andy Schleck said.

"I think Lance and Andréas can catch up with the Schleck brothers [on the overall standings]," said Contador.

"It would be nice to get on the podium," said Armstrong. "I will go as hard as I can [in the Annecy time trial] and go up Ventoux as fast as I can."

Remember Stage 17 of the 2004 and '06 Tours? This ain't so different.

Arguably the hardest stage of the race simply because of the number of high-rating climbs within the relatively short space of 169.5 kilometres, the seventeenth stage began just before half-past midday from the previous day's finish in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Situated in the foothills of the legendary Cols de l'Iseran, du Peit-Saint-Bernard and du Cormet de Roseland, the mountainous surroundings gave good indication of what lay ahead, the parcours not dissimilar to Stage 17 of the 2004 and 2006 Tours de France, where in the latter, a rampaging Floyd Landis turned Le Tour inside out and upside down - quite literally.

Straight away on the Cormet de Roselend, it was a jumpy peloton, a group of 10 gaining clearance two-thirds of the way on the 18.1-km climb and containing a few expected - and unexpected - suspects; perhaps the strangest being Denis Menchov (Rabobank), who appears to be persona non grata at Le Tour.

Between the lead 10 and the peloton were a trio of chasers, although they didn't quite manage to bridge before the climb topped out at 1,968 metres, polka-dotted Pellizotti once again first over the top. Down to Beaufort (km. 38) a few more came across to the front group, numbering a sizeable 22 before one of those escapees, points leader Thor Hushovd (Cérvelo TestTeam), went on a solo expedition in a search for the two intermediate sprints on offer; the first still some way off at Paz-sur-Arly (km 75.5). The other 21 names were: Menchov, Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Ruben Perez, Egoi Martinez, Amets Txurruka, Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Remi Pauriol and Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel), Maxime Monfort (Columbia-HTC), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre NGC), Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Jose Luis Arrieta (AG2R La Mondiale), George Hincapie (Columbia-HTC), and Linus Gerdemann (Milram).

All roads lead to Romme

At the base of the 8.8-km Col de Romme, that together with the closely-linked 7.5-km Col de la Colombière creates a hors-catégorie climb of its own, Carlos Sastre (Cérvelo TestTeam) was first to go with Sylvain Calzati (Agritubel).

That break was short-lived, however, becoming the precursor to a far more dangerous move when Andy Schleck fired off for the second day running, his second big dig five kilometres from the Romme's 1,297-metre summit shedding all bar Contador and Klöden, his brother Fränk later rejoining the lead group. Behind was an equally select quartet containing Armstrong, Wiggins, Vande Velde and Nibali who trailed by 1:11 at the crest, 29 kilometres from Le Grand-Bornand.

The two quartets hit the base of the Colombière 1:20 apart, Fränk Schleck pacing the Contador group and Vande Velde the Armstrong bunch, with a chase group of 13 3:28 in arrears. Apart from Vande Velde being dropped, nothing much happened till 16.7 kilometres from the finish when Contador took a flyer and dropped his companions. Though a short while later, he sat up and allowed the brothers Schleck to join him but not Klöden, who went over the 1,618-metre climb 25 seconds down on the new lead trio, with Fränk in first place.

"When Alberto attacks it is better to take your time at first," said Andy Schleck. "We came back step-by-step to him, but he showed that he had great legs today. We showed strength in front, it was not an easy stage, but we just had to focus on myself, because without being arrogant I think I am the best climber out there."

It was then Armstrong who turned the screws and left behind Wiggins and Nibali, cresting the Colombière 2:06 behind the Schlecks and Contador. The American seemed intent on catching Klöden on the high-speed descent but was in fact caught by demonic descender Nibali, who together, managed to nip at the German's heels just few kilometres from home.

A pat on Fränk Schleck's bum by Contador may be construed as a job well done. But it was not just that: it was a sign he was conceding the stage victory, a half-hearted effort by the maillot jaune granting Fränk his second Tour stage after his 2006 triumph atop L'Alpe d'Huez. Nibali led Armstrong over the line 2:18 later, with Klöden a further nine seconds back. Wiggins, Christophe Moreau (Agritubel), Vande Velde and Rémi Pauriol (Cofidis) would complete Wednesday's first 10 places.

For images of stage 17 click here

Full Results
1Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank4:53:54
2Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
3Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
4Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas0:02:18
5Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
6Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana0:02:27
7Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream0:03:07
8Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel0:04:09
9Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
10Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:06:10
11Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux
12Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:06:12
13Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
14Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
15Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
16Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto
17Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux
18Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
19Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:15
20José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:19
21Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step0:07:01
22Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:07:47
23Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence - Lotto
24Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel
25Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
26Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream
27Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha
28David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:07:50
29Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha0:08:30
30David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGC0:08:54
31Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram
32Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step
33Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
34Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
35Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne0:08:58
36Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha0:11:00
37Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
38Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:11:20
39Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel0:11:50
40Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank
41Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
42Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank
43Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
44George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC
45Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre - NGC
46Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
47Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:13:30
48Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
49Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step0:15:33
50Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:17:33
51Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
52Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
53Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
54Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux
55Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana
56Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram
57Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana
58David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
59Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas
60Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana0:21:31
61Iñigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
62Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank
63Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
64Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:25:38
65Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha0:29:43
66Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGC
67Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano
68Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano
69Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
70Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank
71Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux
72Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC
73Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC
74Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel
75Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
76Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
77Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano
78Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team
79Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
80Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team
81Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto
82Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team
83Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence - Lotto
84José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
85Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank
86Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
87Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
88Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank
89Charles Wegelius (GBr) Silence - Lotto
90Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel
91Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram
92Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
93Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
94Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
95Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
96Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
97Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
98Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Team Katusha
99Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana
100Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
101Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana
102Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto
103Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream
104Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - NGC
105David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream
106Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto
107Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Slipstream
108Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - Lotto
109Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas
110Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano
111Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank
112Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
113Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step0:35:47
114Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC
115Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - HTC
116Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC
117Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas
118Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
119Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
120Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
121Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas
122Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step
123Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto
124Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC
125Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC
126Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
127William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
128Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas
129Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
130Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team
131Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
132Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas
133Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC
134Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
135Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC
136David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
137Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha
138Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC
139Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
140Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
141Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
142Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
143Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
144Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux
145Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano
146Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano
147Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel
148Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
149Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
150Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne
151Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
152Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux
153Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC
154Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram
155Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram
156Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team0:35:58
157Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank0:35:59
158Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram
DNFKenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
DNFCyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFJosé Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test Team

Points
1Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank20pts
2Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana17
3Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank15
4Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas13
5Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana12
6Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana10
7Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream9
8Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel8
9Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream7
10Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne6
11Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux5
12Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC4
13Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas3
14Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale2
15Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha1

Sprint 1 - Praz-Sur-Arly, km. 75.5
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team6pts
2Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step4
3Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2

Sprint 2 - Cluses, km. 126.0
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team6pts
2Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne4
3Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2

Cormet de Roselend (Cat. 1) km. 18.0
1Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas15pts
2Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux13
3Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step11
4José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale9
5Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne8
6Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto7
7David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream6
8Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank5

Col des Saisies (Cat. 1) km. 56.0
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team15pts
2Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas13
3Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne11
4Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi9
5Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi8
6Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank7
7Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto6
8Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step5

Côte d'Araches (Cat. 2) km. 111.5
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team10pts
2Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas9
3Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi8
4Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne7
5Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto6
6David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream5

Col de Romme (Cat. 1) km. 140.5
1Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank15pts
2Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank13
3Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana11
4Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana9
5Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas8
6Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream7
7Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream6
8Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana5

Col de la Colombière (Cat. 1) km. 154.5
1Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank30pts
2Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank26
3Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana22
4Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana18
5Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana16
6Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas14
7Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream12
8Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel10

Young riders
1Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank4:53:54
2Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas0:02:18
3Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas0:06:12
4Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:08:54
5Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne0:08:58
6Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha0:11:00
7Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel0:11:50
8Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
9Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:17:33
10Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano0:29:43
11Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
12Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC
13Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC
14Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel
15Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team
16Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
17Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram
18Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram
19Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto
20Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto
21Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano
22Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC0:35:47
23Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC
24Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas
25Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
26Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC
27Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
28Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
29Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha
30Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano
31Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano
32Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
33Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram

Most aggressive rider
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team

Teams
1Astana14:46:27
2Garmin - Slipstream0:10:18
3Team Saxo Bank0:12:48
4AG2R La Mondiale0:14:01
5Team Katusha0:17:44
6Agritubel0:19:01
7Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne0:20:32
8Liquigas0:21:18
9Quick Step0:23:00
10Francaise Des Jeux0:25:10
11Caisse d'Epargne0:25:33
12Euskaltel - Euskadi0:25:57
13Silence - Lotto0:38:57
14Bbox Bouygues Telecom0:39:15
15Rabobank0:40:26
16Lampre - N.G.C0:45:42
17Team Columbia - HTC0:49:04
18Team Milram0:51:25
19Cervelo Test Team0:54:16
20Skil-Shimano1:24:24

General classification after stage 17
1Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana72:27:09
2Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:02:26
3Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank0:03:25
4Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana0:03:55
5Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana0:04:44
6Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream0:04:53
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas0:05:09
8Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream0:08:08
9Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux0:09:19
10Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:10:50
11Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas0:10:52
12Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:11:38
13Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team0:11:39
14Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux0:11:52
15Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha0:12:08
16Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:15:29
17Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto0:17:23
18Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha0:19:20
19Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel0:21:50
20Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram0:24:15
21Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:25:07
22George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC0:25:38
23Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step0:25:45
24Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:28:38
25Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram0:28:49
26Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana0:30:59
27Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC0:34:06
28Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:35:58
29Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel0:36:21
30Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:36:33
31Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana0:36:37
32Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto0:37:06
33Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:38:06
34Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:39:08
35Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana0:39:35
36Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram0:40:37
37Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC0:40:52
38Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas0:41:11
39Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi0:43:57
40Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne0:45:47
41Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha0:47:03
42Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:47:06
43Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:48:17
44Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank0:48:35
45Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne0:49:53
46Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:50:26
47Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team0:51:06
48Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank0:52:52
49Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux0:53:07
50Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC0:54:35
51Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank0:56:47
52Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:58:19
53Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence - Lotto0:59:10
54Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step0:59:44
55Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank1:02:47
56Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream1:03:46
57David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGC1:05:33
58David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:11:15
59Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:13:20
60Charles Wegelius (GBr) Silence - Lotto1:14:25
61Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel1:16:36
62David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream1:17:20
63Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1:17:36
64Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1:18:18
65Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1:20:21
66Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom1:20:40
67David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne1:21:16
68José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale1:23:09
69Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank1:25:38
70Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel1:25:52
71José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne1:27:09
72Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel1:28:58
73Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel1:29:02
74Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:29:33
75David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream1:29:57
76Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:31:02
77Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:32:04
78Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi1:32:20
79Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram1:33:20
80Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank1:36:29
81Iñigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Cervelo Test Team1:36:54
82Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank1:40:08
83Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step1:41:32
84Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Team Katusha1:42:19
85Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne1:42:37
86Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1:45:52
87Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas1:45:56
88Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto1:49:40
89Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team1:50:48
90Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto1:53:17
91Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank1:53:47
92Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale1:54:35
93Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGC1:55:25
94Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step1:56:29
95Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team1:57:45
96Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux1:58:52
97Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step1:59:07
98Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha1:59:25
99Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano1:59:42
100Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream2:01:24
101Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi2:01:48
102Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - Lotto2:02:53
103Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha2:06:50
104Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2:07:40
105Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank2:07:59
106Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC2:08:08
107Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas2:13:22
108Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team2:15:37
109Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas2:21:10
110Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank2:25:32
111Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step2:25:40
112Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC2:25:54
113Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha2:26:17
114Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram2:26:29
115Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano2:27:28
116Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank2:29:18
117Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas2:30:31
118Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto2:30:58
119Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne2:31:06
120Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Slipstream2:31:45
121Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2:32:24
122Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence - Lotto2:34:05
123Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - NGC2:34:14
124Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC2:34:52
125Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano2:35:08
126Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano2:36:45
127Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram2:38:01
128Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux2:38:11
129Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana2:40:02
130Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team2:42:10
131Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi2:42:34
132Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas2:42:53
133Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale2:44:07
134Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2:44:31
135Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux2:45:23
136Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC2:45:32
137Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram2:45:46
138Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Slipstream2:47:05
139Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC2:47:19
140Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha2:47:43
141Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC2:51:25
142Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana2:53:01
143Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC2:54:04
144Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano2:56:05
145Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2:56:06
146Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2:56:15
147Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas2:57:34
148Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2:57:53
149William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2:58:46
150Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano2:59:23
151Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano3:00:35
152Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC
153Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - HTC3:01:02
154Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream3:02:00
155Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram3:02:40
156Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team3:03:44
157Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step3:13:14
158Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux3:26:01

Points classification
1Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team230pts
2Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC200
3Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne126
4Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram122
5Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream110
6Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale100
7Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank97
8Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas96
9Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana77
10Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale74
11Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana71
12Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha66
13Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne64
14George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC63
15Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream62
16Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step61
17Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank61
18Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank55
19William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom54
20Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC53
21Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas52
22Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom51
23Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom49
24Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team48
25Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi48
26Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux48
27Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas47
28Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano47
29Mark Renshaw (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC47
30Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank46
31Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne46
32Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step46
33Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha44
34Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto43
35Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux42
36Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana42
37Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel41
38Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi41
39Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team38
40Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne38
41Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi37
42Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano37
43Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram37
44Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank35
45Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne35
46Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano34
47Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha34
48Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux33
49Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale33
50Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne31
51Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel31
52Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne30
53Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom30
54Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom30
55Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC29
56Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom29
57Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel28
58Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas28
59Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGC27
60Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha27
61Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC26
62Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana26
63Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi26
64Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano26
65Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne24
66Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream24
67Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram24
68Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux23
69José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne22
70Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - NGC22
71Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel21
72Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram21
73Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale20
74Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram19
75Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC18
76Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano18
77Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram17
78Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick Step17
79Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - Lotto16
80Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne16
81Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto16
82Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream15
83Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank14
84Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC14
85Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas14
86Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank14
87Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - Lotto13
88Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto13
89Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux12
90Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC11
91Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step11
92David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream10
93Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux10
94Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team10
95Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha10
96Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram10
97Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom9
98Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale8
99Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Agritubel8
100Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team7
101Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank6
102Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha5
103Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne5
104Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi5
105Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream4
106Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi4
107Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Agritubel4
108Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha4
109Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas4
110Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank4
111Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas4
112Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step3
113Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto3
114Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano3
115Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - HTC3
116Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana2
117David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne2
118David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGC2
119Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank2
120Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne1
121Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC1
122Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC-25

Mountains classification
1Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas196pts
2Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi118
3Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom97
4Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne89
5Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi86
6Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana85
7Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux84
8Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto76
9Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank68
10Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step67
11Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank65
12Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel64
13Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas54
14Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi49
15Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale46
16Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team45
17David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne38
18Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana37
19Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) Rabobank36
20Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream35
21Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale34
22Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram32
23Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto31
24Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom31
25Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana27
26Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne26
27José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne26
28Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team25
29Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi24
30Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne24
31Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank23
32Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step23
33George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC21
34David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream20
35Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha18
36Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha17
37Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale17
38Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas17
39Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne14
40Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team14
41Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom14
42Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana14
43Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank13
44Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana12
45Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank12
46Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi12
47David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream11
48Christophe Moreau (Fra) Agritubel11
49José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test Team10
50Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne10
51Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux9
52José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La Mondiale9
53Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano7
54Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream7
55Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram7
56Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC6
57Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas6
58Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano6
59Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux6
60Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank6
61Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom5
62Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - Lotto5
63Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGC5
64Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step5
65Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi5
66Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne4
67Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream4
68Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank4
69Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel4
70Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram4
71Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano4
72Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne4
73Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha3
74Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Agritubel3
75Marcus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram3
76Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux3
77Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha2
78Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas2
79Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas1
80Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne1
81David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGC1
82Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream1
83Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank1

Young rider classification
1Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank72:29:35
2Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas0:02:43
3Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas0:08:26
4Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel0:19:24
5Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:22:41
6Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:26:12
7Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank0:36:42
8Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram0:38:11
9Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne0:47:27
10Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC0:52:09
11Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues Telecom0:55:53
12Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel1:26:32
13Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram1:30:54
14Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne1:40:11
15Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team1:48:22
16Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto1:50:51
17Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha1:56:59
18Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-Shimano1:57:16
19Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGC2:05:42
20Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha2:23:51
21Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - Lotto2:28:32
22Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGC2:32:26
23Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil-Shimano2:32:42
24Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues Telecom2:42:05
25Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram2:43:20
26Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGC2:44:53
27Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha2:45:17
28Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC2:48:59
29Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano2:53:39
30Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas2:55:08
31Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano2:58:09
32Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream2:59:34
33Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram3:00:14

Teams classification
1Astana215:55:13
2Garmin - Slipstream0:16:12
3AG2R La Mondiale0:16:33
4Team Saxo Bank0:24:31
5Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne0:37:17
6Liquigas0:38:28
7Euskaltel - Euskadi0:39:09
8Francaise Des Jeux0:43:20
9Team Katusha0:53:54
10Agritubel1:02:52
11Team Milram1:02:54
12Bbox Bouygues Telecom1:04:25
13Caisse d'Epargne1:05:00
14Cervelo Test Team1:07:57
15Silence - Lotto1:10:55
16Team Columbia - HTC1:17:17
17Rabobank1:34:07
18Quick Step2:03:08
19Lampre - N.G.C3:07:18
20Skil-Shimano6:14:13

Thor continues his hammer-fest

With overnight leader Contador experiencing mechanical problems and others like Cyril Dessel (AG2R) calling it a day, Hushovd at first appeared to be the only man revelling in the lousy conditions, summiting the 15.1-km Col de Saises 1:20 ahead of the group he briefly occupied and 5:09 clear of the peloton. The versatile Norwegian was clearly on a mission - no doubt fuelled by Mark Cavendish's words the previous day, where he told Hushovd, "You've won the green jersey but that's always going to have a stain on it" - and after he took the sprint in Paz-sur-Arly, he gestured to the camera, smirked, and tugged his maillot vert, appearing to say, 'It's mine'.

For the time being, the group behind - now minus Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), making it a 20-man chase - seemed content to let the God of Thunder continue to banish his mighty hammer. Back in the peloton, Saxo Bank drove at the fore, Stuart O'Grady doing much of the pace-making, with the entire Astana formation right behind, patiently waiting.

Through the Sallanches valley - the only decent piece of flat road the entire stage - and onto the 6.3-km Côte d'Araches, Hushovd did not appear to be weakening. Over the Araches and 58-km from the finish, Astana had now combined with Saxo Bank, 3:09 behind Hushovd, the extra pace causing problems for Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Kim Kirchen (Columbia-HTC), the first of the big names to be dropped. And with the retirement of Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano), Yauheni Hutarovich (Française des Jeux) became the new lanterne rouge.

Thor's extraordinary feat was complete when he made it to the second sprint in Cluses (km. 126); barring disaster, now certain to take his second maillot vert in Paris.

"Today everything just felt perfect. I attacked over the first climb, did a good descent and then had an amazing day in the front," Hushovd said. "I think this is the best day I've ever had on the bike. Maybe I was making a statement, but at least I've got more points in case something happens in the coming days. If I win the jersey by 10 points, I can say that I had built a sufficient buffer on this stage to Le Grand-Bornand."

His job done - and voted the day's most aggressive rider - he was soon overtaken by the chase group, who in turn was swallowed by the peloton. Then the race began for real.

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