2010 Tour de France Becoming a Three-Man Race
Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck in the driver's seat; Armstrong too far back.
July 25 is clearing for the main contenders.
"That's like a mission accomplished. So it's one or two less guys to worry about," Andreu said. "Wiggins got dropped, so it starts reducing the number of contenders."
Schleck looks the more comfortable of the three main contenders, with Armstrong's RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel observing that Contador does not look as strong as last year.
Contador could not match Schleck's hilltop acceleration on the final part of Sunday's climb.
Schleck says he saw Contador in "difficulty" for the first time and got a big morale boost by winning Stage 8.
"Before, I have not seen him in difficulty yet, and I think yesterday he was," Schleck said Monday. "I was surprised he couldn't follow, to be honest, because the day before I had a really strong impression of him."
Contador, who had to regularly answer questions during last year's Tour as to whether he could race on the same team as Armstrong and fulfill his own ambitions, dealt with Schleck's opinion by playing down its impact.
"For me, he is still one the biggest favorites of this Tour de France," Contador said. "You might think (what he said) affects my feelings, but it doesn't change anything."
Schleck, however, is at another major disadvantage to both Evans and Contador, who are both much faster than him on time trials. Schleck, whose brother Frank was injured early on in the race and had to pull out because of a broken left collarbone, also has one less teammate to help him in the mountains.
The 25-year-old Schleck knows he will have to be in the lead on July 24 for the final 52-kilometer (32.2-mile) time trial if he is to stand a chance of winning the Tour.
"The only thing I know is that I will need to be in yellow for the time trial," he said. "I can't say for now if I will need one minute or two minutes."
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