Photo source: versus.com
"No guts, no glory" is what Team Leopard-Trek's Andy Schleck told reporters yesterday at the end of Stage 18 of the 2011 Tour de France after his team's meticulously executed plan to break early with 60 km of serious climbing to go netted him the stage win and put Schleck within spitting distance of the yellow jersey, narrowly held onto by Europcar's Thomas Voeckler. Frenchman Voeckler gave the performance of his life as he sprinted to an uphill finish atop Galibier to retain the leader's yellow jersey for a 10th stage win, and Team BMC's Cadel Evans stamped out his determination with his every pedal stroke not to let his bid for the maillot jaune slip through his fingers.
The excitement continued in today's "hillier than thou" Stage 19 climbfest, ending with a guns (and legs) a'blazing battle on the road up the fabled Alp de Huez.
Voeckler's fellow Frenchman and Europcar Pierre Rolland escaped the pack to achieve an important stage win at the top of Alp de Huez, while Andy Schleck took over the yellow jersey from Voeckler as leader of the 2011 Tour de France. Schleck enters Saturday’s critical final time trial with a 57-second gap ahead of Evans, a noted time-trialist, while defending champion Alberto Contador from Team Saxo Bank sits nearly four minutes behind Schleck in 6th place overall.
Will Andy find his wings?
[Photo left: Andy Schleck raises his arms in thanks after winning Stage 18 on the mountain-top finish of Galibier after a long solo effort. Source: Team Leopard-Trek.] When asked whether he'll be able to hold Cadel Evans at bay in the 40km time trial stage tomorrow and ride into Paris as the Tour Leader, Schleck replied, “The yellow jersey gives you wings and I hope that is the case tomorrow.” We'll know for certain tomorrow at the conclusion of Stage 20…But in the meantime, BicyclingHub.com thanks Andy the Team Leopard Trek for providing one of the most exciting Tours to watch with baited breath in a long time.
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