Riblon Conquers Climbs to Win 2010 Tour de France Stage 14
Christophe Riblon of France won the 2010 Tour de France's first stage in the Pyrenees on Sunday, while Andy Schleck fended off minor challenges from Alberto Contador to remain the Tour's overall leader.
Christophe Riblon of Team AG2R/France won the 2010 Tour de France's first stage in the Pyrenees on Sunday, while Andy Schleck fended off minor challenges from Alberto Contador to remain the Tour's overall leader.
Riblon finished in 4 hours, 52 minutes, 42 seconds - 54 seconds ahead of Denis Menchov of Russia and Samuel Sanchez of Spain.
Schleck was 1:08 behind in fourth, in a group that also included defending champion Contador.
The pair stuck together throughout the 114.7-mile 14th stage from Revel, with the Luxembourg rider matching the Spaniard's accelerations on the final climb to the ski resort of Ax-3 Domaines.
Schleck said he hadn't tried to overtake Contador for fear that the Spaniard would launch a late attack and go past him.
"I feel really good, and if he wants to get me tomorrow, he has to be really good," Schleck said.
Schleck's advantage over Contador remained at 31 seconds, with Sanchez now 2:31 back. Menchov was fourth at 2:44.
Riblon earned his first Tour de France stage victory, and fourth for France this year.
"I've been a professional for 5.5 years and I've been waiting for this for 5½ years," the 29-year-old Riblon said.
Part of a group that broke away in the first 19 miles of the race, he was alone in front near the top of the major climb of the day, the Port de Pailheres. He held his lead over the summit, down the long descent and then up the climb to Ax-3 Domaines.
"My aim was to arrive at the bottom with as much time as possible without losing all my strength. Then I did a good climb," Riblon said.
Supported by teammate Volodimir Gustov, 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) attacked on the Port de Pailhères climb in beautiful fashion, but was later caught by the other favorites on the final Ax 3 Domaines climb.
"I am tired now, but I am content for trying to go for it. I feel better every day and I was especially motivated to race today. I can suffer again on the bike and I am coming closer to my normal self. Volodymir and I attacked at the bottom of the Pailhères but there was a lot of headwind and the favorites didn't give me too much space," Sastre told Roadcycling.com.
Sastre added "The beginning of this Tour de France was not easy for me, with all the problems I had from my crash at the Giro d'Italia, and again with my crash on the cobblestones. Today was a special day for me. I won here in 2003, and today I had extra motivation. Maybe I cannot win the Tour de France 2010, but I am here to fight and do my best. My teammates helped me as much as they could."
Monday's 15th stage is the second in the Pyrenees and takes the riders 116.5 miles from Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon, over the major climb of Port de Bales before descending to finish on the flat.
Click here for full 2010 Tour de France stage