Home Sports Evans takes Tour lead as veteran Piepoli wins 10th stage

Evans takes Tour lead as veteran Piepoli wins 10th stage


Hautacam (France) : Tour favourite Cadel Evans of Australia took over the lead of the 2008 Tour de France as veteran Italian cyclist Leonardo Piepoli won the 10th stage of the race.

Evans, who finished second in last year’s Tour, came in eighth Monday, two minutes 17 seconds behind the winner, but more than 2 minutes ahead of the previous race leader, Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg.

After Tuesday’s rest day, Evans leads another Luxembourg rider, Franck Schleck, by one second in the standings, with Christian Vandevelde of the US in third place, 38 seconds adrift.

Evans, who crashed badly during Sunday’s ninth stage, broke into tears on the podium after he slipped the race leader’s yellow jersey over his shoulders.

“Yesterday was a terrible day, and I suffered a lot today,” Evans said.

He said he had injured his left shoulder and hip and was in pain through most of Monday’s stage. “I thought everything was over yesterday. I was afraid I had broken my collarbone.”

The Tour de France has had three previous stages end at the ski resort of Hautacam, in the Pyrenees Mountains, where the finish line comes at the conclusion of a climb rated Beyond Category in difficulty.

The rider who held the yellow jersey after the stage each time ended up winning the Tour.

“I hope like all the others who took the yellow jersey here I will hold it all the way to Paris,” Evans said. “But there are many stages and many kilometres to go.”

The Tour ends July 27 at the Champs Elysees in Paris.

The day’s biggest loser was Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who was considered one of the favourites, with Evans, to win the Tour.

But the Spaniard could not keep up on the climb to the top of the Tourmalet Pass, another Beyond Category climb, and ended up finishing in 19th place, nearly 6 minutes behind the winner.

Valverde now stands 14th, 4 minutes 41 seconds behind Evans.

The 36-year-old Piepoli broke away on the gruelling climb to the finish with Saunier Duval teammate Juan Jose Cobo and Schleck, and led his teammate across the finish line. Schleck finished third, 28 seconds behind.

The winner’s time for the 156-kilometre course from Pau to Hautacam was 4 hours 19 minutes 27 seconds, an average speed of 36.08 kph.