After Monday's rest day, the riders of the Tour de France were back in their saddles again on Tuesday, taking on Stage 9, an Alpine course that featured one of this year's most difficult climbs, the Col de la Madeleine, a climb that is hors catégorie, or "beyond categorization."
And it was on the Col de la Madeleine where the Tour may have become a two-man race to Paris, with Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck setting a blistering pace during the 25km climb that left behind a group of contenders, including Levi Leipheimer, and completely broke Cadel Evans, who not only lost significant time, but also the yellow jersey after Tuesday.
The new owner of the maillot jaune is Andy Schleck, who attacked Contador again and again on the Col de la Madeleine until the two finally decided to work together to catch the day's break-away group, reaching the four leaders with just 1km to go, but France's Sandy Casar held off six other riders to claim the stage win. Evans now sits in 18th place, nearly eight minutes off the lead.
Leipheimer finished 10th in today's stage, moving him up to sixth in the general classification. At 3:59 back, it is likely that Team Radioshack will shift their attention off of Lance Armstrong, who is over 15 minutes back from Schleck, and instead focus on helping Leipheimer earn a spot on the podium.
General Classification After Stage 9:
1. Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank
2. Alberto Contador, Astana (+ 00:41)
3. Sammy Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi (+ 02:45)
4. Denis Menchov, Rabobank (+ 02:58)
5. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Omega Pharma-Lotto (+ 03:31)
6. Levi Leipheimer, Radioshack (+ 03:59)
31. Lance Armstrong, Radioshack (+ 15:54)
Wednesday's Stage 10 is a medium mountain stage, running roughly 111 miles from Chambéry to Gap as this year's Tour says goodbye to the Alps (don't worry, the Pyrenees still loom. It consists of three categorized climbs, with the second-category Col du Noyer being the most difficult.
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