What an exciting finish in today’s punishing mountain stage from Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoriaz! This area is a popular ski resort with two category 1 climbs, the Col de la Ramaz (9 percent grade) and Morzine-Avoriaz (at the end). This stage covered 189 kilometers. Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) battled it out in the last minute with Sammy Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi) and powered past him to win. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) came in third place. Below are the individual standings for stage 8.
Cadel Evans (BMC) takes the yellow jersey for the first time in this Tour, leading Andy Schleck (20 seconds behind) and Alberto Contador (Astana) (1 minute, 1 second behind). I was shocked to see Contador not challenge Schleck and Sanchez when the two men began pulling away towards the end of the race. Contador is the favorite to win this year’s Tour de France and his team, Astana, performed superbly today. Perhaps he’s conserving his strength for the other mountain stages, notably the Pyrenees.
The other surprise of the day is Lance Armstrong’s very “un-Armstrong” like performance. He fell twice, faded away on the way up the Col de la Ramaz, and ended up in 39th place out of 50 riders, 13 minutes and 26 seconds behind Cadel Evans. It is highly unlikely Armstrong will pull his 8th Tour de France win. Of course, if by divine intervention, the 38 other riders are attacked by a pack of wild boar or get hit by lightning in the Pyrenees, then Lance will truly make history.