Jelle Vanendert Climbs to Tour de France Stage Victory on Plateau de Beille

News & Results

07/16/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Team Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jelle Vanendert climbs to stage 14 victory on Plateau de Beille in Tour de France 2011. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Team Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jelle Vanendert climbs to stage 14 victory on Plateau de Beille in Tour de France 2011. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Jelle Vanendert Climbs to Tour de France Stage Victory on Plateau de Beille

French cyclist Thomas Voeckler of Team Europcar retained the lead in the Tour de France 2011 on Saturday after the last stage in the Pyrenees, which was won by Jelle Vanendert (Belgium) of Team Omega Pharma-Lotto and failed to be as significant as expected for the main contenders, who didn't have the guts needed to dare attack early.

French cyclist Thomas Voeckler of Team Europcar retained the lead in the Tour de France 2011 on Saturday after the last stage in the Pyrenees, which was won by Jelle Vanendert (Belgium) of Team Omega Pharma-Lotto and failed to be as significant as expected for the main contenders, who didn't have the guts needed to dare attack early.

Vanendert clinched the 14th stage - the first Tour de France stage win of his career - after finishing 21 seconds ahead of Team Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez of Spain, who beat the Belgian to win Thursday's 12th stage, and 46 seconds in front of third-place finisher Andy Schleck of Luxembourg's Team Leopard-Trek.

"I never imagined this would happen to me on my first Tour de France," Vanendert commented after the stage and added "I have been feeling good in the mountains."

The contenders were expected to launch attacks in the most grueling stage of the Pyrenees so far - which featured a 15.8-kilometer (10-mile) climb to Plateau de Beille - but Schleck only gained 2 seconds on defending champion Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) despite multiple brief attempts from the two-time runner-up.

Evans crossed the line fourth ahead of Colombia's Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) and Contador. They all were 48 seconds behind Vanendert.

"It wasn't possible to make a big difference, I need a steeper stage than this," said Schleck, who rides for the Leopard Trek team with his older brother Frank. "We worked hard, we climbed well. But when you attacked today, you could only get 50 meters ahead because there was a bit of wind. But still, I got a few seconds at the end."

Voeckler is 1 minute, 49 seconds ahead of Frank Schleck, 2:06 clear of Evans, 2:15 ahead of Andy Schleck and 4:00 in front of Contador, who is seventh behind Sanchez and Italy's Ivan Basso.

"I'm not interested in who is stronger than who," Voeckler said. "My objective was to keep the jersey."

Contador praised Voeckler, but does not expect him to keep going at this rate for much longer.

"We know he's a great rider, but if he ever cracks one day he will really lose a lot of time," Contador said.

The 168.5-kilometer (105-mile) stage from Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille finished with a famed and tortuous ascent.

Schleck kept shooting glances at Contador when next to the three-time champion early in the last climb, looking to see if the Spaniard was struggling. Contador beat Schleck to win the Tour de France the past two years.

With about 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) remaining, Schleck, Contador and Evans accelerated ahead of the main pack.

Schleck launched another half-hearted attack soon after, with Contador struggling to follow until he sat on Frank Schleck's wheel and caught up a few seconds later.

"I am satisfied because I didn't lose any time today," Contador said. "I can't say I was good, because good means winning."

When Andy Schleck attacked for the third time with 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) left, he could not get away

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