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2009 Tour de France: Stage 17 – Schleck Brothers Dominate

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2009 tour de france stage 17 frank andy schleck dominate contador in yellow

The Schleck brothers Andy and Frank rode brilliantly to move themselves into 2nd and 3rd overall, respectively, but Contador hugged their wheel the whole day to remain in Yellow with a 2’26” gap at the end of the day.

Today’s 169.5km Stage 17 ran from Boug-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand Bornand and turned into a real tactical cat and mouse game between the GC leaders. With five rated climbs, four being Category One, today’s stage tested riders’ ability.

In fact, it proved to be a bit much for some, with several of the big names, including Cadel Evans, fell off the back midway through the stage. Thor Hushovd, however, used Cavendish’s snide remarks as fuel to push him up early climbs alone to cross the two intermediate sprints in the lead and all but seal his eventual Green Jersey win. He almost lost it on one wet descent, nearly sliding into a roadside barrier, but masterfully corrected and continued on his way, seemingly unphased. (Menchov and Txurruka hit the same corner and went down just a bit later)

Hushovd, who led the early part of the race with Pellizotti, Chavanel and Kern close behind. A chase group formed behind them with Hincapie, Zabriskie and Menchov (among others).

Behind them, though, Saxo Bank started their attack and along with Astana drove a pace that shed riders from the peloton left and right. Sastre attacked twice, but was marked and caught both times. Finally, Frank Schleck jumped and was followed by brother Andy, Wiggins, Armstrong, Kloden and Contador.

The Schleck brothers played the game perfectly, breaking away on the final downhill and putting time on everyone…except that Alberto Contador and Andreas Kloden were right on their wheel. Armstrong and Wiggins came off a bit before the summit, but not before Vande Velde and Nibali managed to grind their way back up to them.

2009 tour de france stage 17 frank andy schleck dominate contador in yellow

On the downhill, the Schlecks drove the pace, and with 2km to go, Contador attacked but was immediately matched by the brothers. Kloden, unfortunately, couldn’t maintain and fell off from the lead three. No doubt, it was a questionable strategy on the part of Contador to drop his own teammate, essentially moving the Schlecks over him in the overall standings, but likely Contador didn’t think the Saxo Bank riders could keep pace. To his credit, Contador never looked like he was struggling today.

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At the line, Contador rode smoothly without contesting the stage win. Andy paced them in and gave older brother Frank the win in appreciation for his long day of domestique work.

2009-tdf-stage17-recap-3

Frank got the stage win (above) while Andy gets the Best Young Rider’s White Jersey (below).

2009-tdf-stage17-recap-4

Nibali hung on to Armstrong up to the finish, where they caught Kloden, coming across the line just ahead of the Astana riders to stay in striking distance of the Best Young Rider’s jersey.

2009 TOUR de FRANCE STAGE 17 TOP 10

POS RIDER TEAM TIME
1 F. Schleck SAX 4h53’54”
2 A. Contador AST +0″
3 A. Schleck SAX +0″
4 V. Nibali LIQ +2’18”
5 L. Armstrong AST +2’18”
6 A. Kloden AST +2’27”
7 B. Wiggins GRM +3’07”
8 C. Moreau AGR +4’09”
9 C. Vande Velde GRM +4’09”
10 R. Pauriol COF +6’10”

2009 TOUR de FRANCE TOP 10 OVERALL AFTER STAGE 17

POS RIDER TEAM TIME
1 A. Contador AST TIME
2 A. Schleck SAX TIME
3 F. Schleck SAX TIME
4 L. Armstrong AST TIME
5 A. Kloden AST TIME
6 B. Wiggins GRM TIME
7 V. Nibali LIQ TIME
8 C. Vande Velde GRM TIME
9 C. Le Mevel FDJ TIME
10 M. Astarloza EUS TIME
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