Pierre Rolland Climbs to Victory on Alpe d'Huez in Tour de France 2011

News & Results

07/22/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Pierre Rolland wins stage 19 of the 2011 Tour de France for Team Europcar. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Pierre Rolland wins stage 19 of the 2011 Tour de France for Team Europcar. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Pierre Rolland Climbs to Victory on Alpe d'Huez in Tour de France 2011

On the final day in the Alps, the 2011 Tour de France has a new leader: Andy Schleck.

On the final day in the Alps, the 2011 Tour de France has a new leader: Andy Schleck.

The Luxembourg rider overtook Frenchman Thomas Voeckler on Friday, making up a 15-second deficit during a 68-mile stage that sent riders up the brutally steep Alpe d'Huez.

Voeckler cracked on the first of three daunting climbs. He never caught the leaders despite a gritty struggle and gave up the yellow jersey after wearing it for 10 days.

With the race ending Sunday in Paris, Schleck leads brother Frank by 53 seconds. Australia's Cadel Evans is third, 57 seconds behind.

Frenchman Pierre Rolland captured the 19th stage, rewarding thousands of wildly cheering French fans who packed the finish. He attacked near the end of the mountain's 21 punishing bends, dropping three-time champion Alberto Contador and Olympic champ Samuel Sanchez.

"I grew up watching Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani, watching how they climb the Alpe d'Huez," Rolland said. "Now I've won the Alpe d'Huez. It's going to take a minute to sink in."

Schleck made good on Thursday's promise to capture the yellow jersey after missing a chance to take the lead on top of the Galibier pass following a daring solo attack.

Schleck rode much of the day in a small group alongside Contador, but was unable to follow the Spaniard when he attacked at the bottom of the 8.5-mile Alpe d'Huez.
Initially Evans was part of the breakaway group, but he was stopped by mechanical problems which forced him to stop two times to adjust his rear wheel and finally a third time to exchange his bike.

"I was sitting well when he attacked," Evans told Roadcycling.com and Roadcycling.mobi and added "I think there was something wrong with my rear wheel and it was slowing me down. For that reason, I changed bikes. When they're going pretty fast and you have to stop three times, the chances of getting back by yourself are pretty limited."

In last year's Tour Andy Schleck complained about Contador not waiting for him when he had a mechanical problem with his bike, however, he decided not to wait and instead chose to keep riding in today's stage when Evans had similar problems.

Rolland, who rides for Europcar and is taking part in his third Tour de France, attacked as the stage drew to a tense finish toward the top of the 6,100-foot final climb. He clenched his fists and grinned widely as he crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of Sanchez and 23 ahead of Contador.

Andy Schleck rode in 57 seconds behind Rolland in a group of six riders that included his brother and Evans. Voeckler arrived 3 minutes, 21 seconds behind Rolland. He dropped to fourth place overall, 2:10 behind.

Tomorrow's decisive individual time trial starts and ends in Grenoble and is 42.5 kilometer long. Commenting on his strategy and his chances of taking the Tour de France lead in tomorrow's time trial, Evans said "Start as fast as possible, finish as fast as possible and hope it's fast enough. Of course, I'd much rather be in

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