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2009 Tour de France: Stage 20 – Rabobank Gets Stage, Contador Defends Schleck Attacks for Yellow

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Today’s penultimate 144km Stage 20 of the 2009 Tour de France ended the last of the Tour’s real race days on the toughest climb of the three weeks. Ending in the thin air atop Mont Ventoux, it would test all of the riders physically and mentally.

Just after the start, a 16-rider break went off the front and remained there until the start of the climb up Mont Ventoux. At the base, Garate (RAB) jumped, trying to make a solo up the 6,000+ ft climb, but he was followed by Martin (THR) and Riblon (ALM), putting a three rider break off the front.

At 12.7km, Frank Schleck tested the group with a small jump, but was immediately answered by Armstrong, with the rest of the GC leader pack grabbing on, keeping everyone together…then Andy Schleck jumped out, with Contador answering. At 12.1km, Andy Schleck jumped again, but Contador grabbed on and they opened a small gap, only to see Armstrong leave the GC group to catch them, with Frank Schleck grabbing his wheel.

2009-tdf-stage20-1 2009-tdf-stage20-3

At this point, Nibali and Pellizotti appeared to crack, and Kloden was suffering, but Bradley Wiggins looked strong, potentially putting himself in position to move up in the GC.  Surprisingly, all three of them managed to recover and get back on the wheel of the GC leader group.

At 11.1km, Martin and Garate were still off the front with Riblon just a bit behind, but the GC pack had dwindled down to the Schlecks, Armstong, Contador, Wiggins and Kloden. The Schlecks kept attacking every few minutes, testing the Astana leaders and hoping to catch them off guard.


With 9.2km to go, Andy Schleck made a real jump, Contador followed and they started leaving the GC group. Andy kept looking back, hoping his brother Frank would come along to put some time on Armstrong, but it wasn’t happening. Nibali, however, chased up to catch the Yellow Jersey, hoping to put enough time on Armstong to get 3rd overall.

Next, Wiggins put an effort in, also trying to gain time on Armstrong, but was answered immediately.

The lead break had 2’06” on the GC group at 7.7km, dropping quickly down to 1’15” as Riblon was caught by the GC leaders. Then, at 5.5km to go, Nibali, Andy Schleck and Contador slowed a bit, allowing Armstrong, Kloden and Frank Schleck to claw their way back onto their wheel…and letting the lead two get their gap back up to 1’45”.


At 5km to go, Pellizotti caught his second wind and started a rampage toward the lead two, closing in to 1’23” at 4km to go…39″ behind at 1.5km to go. In the GC leaders, Wiggins finally cracked, putting Frank Schleck in position to move up in the GC. With 1.3km to go, Andy Schleck attacked again, pushing the pace and breaking the massive headwind for his brother, Contador, Armstrong and Nibali. At the front of the race, Garate saw his opportunity and jumped, gapping Martin and trying to hold off Pellizotti…but Martin caught up at 1km to go, setting the finish up for a sprint to the line. Garate jumped again around the final corner and left Martin to take the stage win, giving Rabobank it’s first stage win of this year’s Tour de France!


Just a few seconds back, Andy Schleck led Contador and Armstrong across the line, cementing Contador’s Yellow Jersey at the end of the day tomorrow in Paris.

2009 TOUR de FRANCE STAGE 20 TOP 10:

1 J. M. Garate RAB 4h39’21”
2 T. Martin THR +3″
3 A. Schleck SAX +38″
4 A. Contador AST +38″
5 L. Armstrong AST +41″
6 F. Schleck SAX +43″
7 R. Kreuziger LIQ +46″
8 F. Pellizotti LIQ +56″
9 V. Nibali LIQ +58″
10 B. Wiggins GRM +1’03”

2009 TOUR de FRANCE STAGE 20 TOP 10:

1 A. Contador AST 81h46’17”
2 A. Schleck SAX +4’11”
3 L. Armstrong AST +5’24”
4 B. Wiggins GRM +6’01”
5 F. Schleck SAX +6’04”
6 A. Kloden AST +6’42”
7 V. Nibali LIQ +7’35”
8 C. Vande Velde GRM +12’04”
9 R. Kreuziger LIQ +14’16”
10 C. Le Mevel FDJ +14’25”
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