- cycling - sport - Tour de France
Italy's Leonardo Piepoli claimed his maiden Tour de France stage victory on Monday while Australian Cadel Evans seized the overall leader's yellow jersey after the first big mountain battle of the race.
As pre-race favourite Evans took the lead, two intimidating climbs dented the hopes of rivals Alejandro Valverde and Damiano Cunego with the duo crossing the line almost six minutes behind Saunier-Duval rider Piepoli.
Luxembourg's Andy Schleck was some three minutes further behind. Piepoli, who helped compatriot Riccardo Ricco win two stages, beat team mate Juan Jose Cobo Acebo of Spain on the high altitude finish in Hautacam. Frank Schleck of Luxembourg took third place and is now second overall just one second adrift of Evans, who showed a solid display a day after a bad crash.
Evans, who took the yellow jersey off Kim Kirchen's shoulders, finished 2:17 behind Piepoli with Spain's Carlos Sastre, Russian Denis Menchov, Ricco and American Christian Vande Velde, who moved to third overall 38 seconds behind.
Kirchen crossed the line 4:19 behind Piepoli.
Following a nervous start, eight riders, including CSC's Fabian Cancellara, took their chance and on Bastille Day, France's Remy di Gregorio was the only genuine climber in a band enjoying a nine-minute lead at foot of the Col du Tourmalet.
The Marseille-born Di Gregorio easily dropped his rivals on the ascent of one of the most intimidating passes of the Tour and was on his own to face the two out-of-category climbs with 60km to go.
First to attack the peloton were the Saunier-Duval team, who cranked up the pace as the sprinters predictably started to suffer.
Cunego and Valverde fell behind three km from the summit and started the descent with a 45-second deficit.
A favourites' group of 17 featuring Kirchen, Evans, Ricco, Menchov, Sastre and the Schleck brothers went down to the valley at breakneck speed, reaching 90 kph.
With the help of two team mates, Valverde and Cunego came back to within five seconds of the yellow jersey pack in the valley.
But Cancellara and Jens Voigt rode a stunning team time trial that buried the Spanish champion and the former Giro d'Italia winner.
It also meant that Di Gregorio, on his own against the wind, was to be swallowed as he began the final 14.4-km ascent to Hautacam with a 30-second advantage over the favourites.
Kirchen and Andy Schleck were quickly dropped and his elder brother Frank showed no mercy, stepping up another gear, taking Cobo Acebo and Piepoli with him.
The Saunier-Duval boys left Schleck some three km from the finish with Piepoli being rewarded for his previous effort with the win.
Provisional result and standings after the 156-km 10th stage of the Tour de France from Pau to Hautacam on Monday
1. Leonardo Piepoli (Italy / Saunier Duval) 4hrs 19mins 7secs"
2. Juan Jose Cobo (Spain / Saunier Duval ) Same time
3. Fraenk Schleck (Luxembourg / Team CSC ) +28"
4. Bernhard Kohl (Austria / Gerolsteiner ) +1:06"
5. Vladimir Efimkine (Russia / AG2R ) +2:05"
6. Riccardo Ricco (Italy / Saunier Duval ) +2:17"
7. Carlos Sastre (Spain / Team CSC )
8. Cadel Evans (Australia / Silence - Lotto )
9. Denis Menchov (Russia / Rabobank )
10. Christian Vande Velde (U.S. / Garmin - Chipotle )
11. Moises Duenas (Spain / Barloworld ) +2:27"
12. Stephane Goubert (France / AG2R ) +2:49"
13. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Liquigas ) +3:40"
14. Mikel Astarloza (Spain / Euskaltel ) +3:58"
15. Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg / Columbia ) +4:19"