The domestiques of the other contenders were unable to reel in Schleck and on the Galibier Cadel took the responsibility of containing the growing threat. With Basso, Voeckler, Contador, and Cunego sitting on his wheel, Evans stayed at the front and hammered away. Contador, having another jour sans, was dropped near the finish, losing nearly 4 minutes. Schleck soloed in for an amazing victory after being off the front for 60 kilometers. Voeckler just about nailed himself to the cross, holding Evans' wheel, making it clear the whole chase that he would not put his nose in the wind. He reward was another day in yellow.
Frank the Snake had an armchair ride all day to sprint away in the last 150m to gain some seconds on Cadel, and finish 2nd for the stage. If he doesn’t win on Alpe d’Huez, something is seriously wrong, as he’ll be as very fresh.
Cadel took back 2 minutes from Andy on the Galibier climb, showing that he has the legs to counter attacks that will certainly come on stage 19. He defiantly has some work to do to minimise his losses and hold onto a position that gives him the best possible crack at gaining yellow in Grenoble of Saturday.
Stage 19: Modane – Alpe d’Huez 109.5km
The rider who wins on Alpe-d'Huez often goes on to win in Paris, as Carlos Sastre underlined in 2008. With just two stages to follow, this could turn into a 109.5km mountain sprint.
There is little chance to warm up before the course reaches the 34km ascent comprising the Télégraphe and the epic north face of the Galibier. There are sure to be some breaks, with riders hoping they can defend their advantage on the long descent into Bourg d'oisans and onto the first ramps of the alpe, where the winner will climb into Tour history.
Beer for the stage: Van Dieman Jacobs Ladder Amber Ale. Alpe d’Huez, switchbacks and Jacobs Ladder all go hand in hand. Named after the access road to the ski village on Ben Lomond in northern Tasmania, this beer provides a smooth malty character with delicate caramel and toffee notes and a medium body sweetness. Some drivers have been known to carry a bottle of Jacobs ladder in the car going up the road instead on snow chains, the jury’s open as to which has more advantages.
Above: Jacobs Ladder
Biere Locale: Biere de Alps, located in Vallouise (340km fro Alpe d’Huez) has a cracking range of beers, and having tasted most of them, I can defiantly vouch for their quality. A white, blonde, amber and stout are the mainstream beers produced, but they also do couple of seasonals. The classic whit beer is a beauty, perfect for quenching your thirst after a long climb in the Alps.