Andy Schleck of Luxembourg secured the overall lead at the Tour de France on Tuesday after completing the mountainous Stage 9 won by French rider Sandy Casar.
As we’ve been discussing, the climbing abilities of Schleck were going to be tested during the second Stage in the Alps, and with his performance today he proved he is among the world’s best. Schleck took the yellow jersey from Australia’s Cadel Evans, who held it for only one day, after coming in seventh during the stage, two seconds off the winner Casar and alongside two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador.
Casar led the furious sprint among seven cyclists at the finish of the 204.5km trek from Morzine to Saint-Jean-La-Maurienne – which served as a journey through French ski culture.
Tour favorite’s Contador and Schleck trailed just behind Casar, setting up a two-man dog fight for the title. Schleck leads his 27-year-old Spanish rival by 41 seconds.
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong performed admirably to finish 18th for the Stage, 2:50 behind Casar. The Texan cyclist saw his chances of victory dashed on Sunday where a series of three stumbles resulted in losing nearly 12 minutes to the stage winner and far behind the top contenders.
Wednesday’s 10th stage, a 179-kilometer ride from Chambery to Gap, should be slightly more tolerable than the grueling Alps, as it features mostly moderate climbs. Stay tuned for a preview of Stage 10.