Riblon Takes Stage 14 of Tour
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) has won the first Pyrenean stage of the 2010 Tour de France.
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) has won the first Pyrenean stage of the 2010 Tour de France. Riblon was the sole survivor of a daylong break. He outlasted his fellow escapees and the peloton's pursuit to win Stage 14, a 184.5-km ride from Revel to Ax-3 Domaines, in 4:52:42. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) finished second and third, respectively, at 0:54. Andy Schleck finished fourth and remains the maillot jaune.
The day's death-or-glory break took off at about 10 km. About a dozen riders sallied off of the front. Some dropped back to the peloton while others bridged up to the move. The break's composition stabilized at 11 riders. They were Riblon, Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Amael Moinard and Stephane Auge (both from Cofidis), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux), David Zabriskie (Garmin). None of the break members was a threat to the yellow jersey, so Saxo Bank did not chase. The fugitives ran up a 10-minute lead before Astana took over at the front in the last 60 km and began to chase.
The Kazakh squad's pacemaking single filed the field long before the bunch reached the base of the Hors Categorie Port de Pailheres. When the bunch hit the climb, a gruppetto formed immediately. Ahead, attrition took its toll on the break. Riblon reached the summit alone.
Rafael Valls Ferri (Footon) attacked from the peloton, and 2008 Tour winner Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) followed. Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Vasily Kiriyenka (Caisse d'Epargne) joined them. Behind, the maillot jaune group stalked all four riders and picked up break members who had been dropped.
Sastre dropped his companions and pursued Riblon on the Category 1 climb to the finish. Behind, Astana led the maillot jaune group. With five km left, Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) dropped off of the front, and defending champion Alberto Contador (Astana) attacked. Schleck took the Spaniard's wheel.
Menchov attacked, and Sanchez followed. Schleck and Contador watched each other until the final km, at which point they collaborated to limit their losses to the Russian and the Olympic road race silver medalist.
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, Riblon felt bad and needed a pep talk from Ag2r manager Vincent Lavenu to keep him in the race. Today, he engages in an all-day escape and wins the stage. The victory should keep him in the race.
In the overall, Schleck leads Contador by 0:31 and Sanchez by 2:31. Stage 15 will probably not shake up the general classification. The 187.5-km ride from Pamiers to Bagneres de Luchon will feature the Hors Categorie Port de Bales, but the summit of that climb is 20 km from the finish. Any GC contenders who escape will be caught on the descent to the line. A break composed of no-hope climbers might furnish the winner, as it did today. Who will win? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!