ALPE d’HUEZ, France (VN) — Tom Danielson realizes he has one more hard effort before he can enjoy what’s been a highly successful Tour de France debut.
The Garmin-Cervélo rider made it up the 21 switchbacks of Alpe d’Huez in good shape to defend his spot in the top 10. Ryder Hesjedal was there to help pace Danielson up the final part of the climb and the pair crossed the line 10th and 11th, respectively, with Danielson settling into ninth overall at 7:11 back.
“It was really nice experience to ride up Alpe d’Huez,” Danielson told VeloNews at the summit. “It was a really hard stage today after a hard Tour de France. I am real happy to put in a good performance.”
Danielson has been consistent throughout the Tour and avoided the early-race crashes that dashed the GC hopes of many riders. Once in the mountains, Danielson has been able to hang with the heavy-hitters on the steepest roads of Europe.
With a strong time trial ride, Danielson will likely secure a spot in the top 10. Danielson is too far behind Ivan Basso (eighth at 4:40) to expect to move up and he’s nearly two minutes ahead of French climber Pierre Rolland (10th at 8:57) and more than two minutes ahead of French rider Jean-Christophe Peraud (11th at 9:42).
“I am really stoked,” Danielson said about his Tour ride so far. “I just have to do a nice time trial tomorrow and I can finally relax.”
Sánchez wins King of Mountain jersey to cap strong Tour
Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) secured the King of the Mountains jersey in Friday’s short but climb-heavy stage, picking up points over the Galibier and with second at the finish line to distance Jelle Vanendert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), 108-98.
Sánchez said the jersey is a nice consolation for his GC hopes that went off-track Thursday.
“I just had a bonk yesterday and had nothing in my legs,” Sánchez said Friday. “Today I felt better and I was hoping to win the stage. Rolland was impressive, so hat’s off to him. The polka-dot jersey is a nice prize and it helps take off the edge of not being able to reach the podium.”
Basso wanted more up the Alpe
Ivan Basso (Liquigas) expressed disappointment with his performance at Alpe d’Huez, where he rode to a less-than-spectacular 15th at 2:06 and lost all hopes of reaching the final podium in Paris.
“It was a very difficult stage for me. It was hard from the morning and the first pedal turns confirmed the sensation,”
Basso said. “I raced defensively in the stage and despite not feeling my best, I did not want to give up. The desire was always there. I had other plans for today, because I believed I would be stronger in the third week. This wasn’t the case and perhaps it’s due to the crash I had in May (on Mount Etna) that interrupted my preparation. We can study it later, but the truth is my team and I gave everything we had.”
Yellow: Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) ended Thomas Voeckler’s miracle run in yellow, taking a 53-second lead on his brother, Frank Schleck, and a 57-second lead to Cadel Evans (BMC) into Saturday’s time trial
Green: Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) carries a 15-point lead to Jose Rojas (Movistar), 280-265, into the final two days of competition. Both were docked 20 points after finishing beyond the time cut, but their point difference remained the same.
Polka-dot: Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) secured the King of the Mountains jersey with second on the stage.
White: Pierre Rolland (Europcar) snagged the young jersey away from Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and leads him by 1:33 going into Saturday’s time trial.
Most aggressive: Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Sungard) won the day’s prize.
Best team: Garmin-Cervelo won the stage and widened its lead to Ag2r to 11:58.
For the second day in a row, a huge group finished beyond the time cut, with 82 riders crossing the line beyond the limit. The day’s time cut was set at 13 percent of the winner’s time (3h13:25), so the time cut was 3h38:34, with the time set at 25:09. The big group crossed the line at 25:27, but race officials cited the same rules as yesterday and allowed the group to remain in the race. All riders in that group were penalized 20 points in the points classification, but both green jersey contenders, Mark Cavendish and Jose Rojas, were in the group. There was no mercy for Bjorn Leukemans, who was eliminated after crossing the line at 33:23 back.
Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), pain in left knee
Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) was hors délai on the time cut, with 167 riders remaining in the Tour
Sunny skies, with temperatures around 25C for the late starters, with 20km northeasterly winds.