Christophe Riblon of the AG2R La Mondiale team won the 14th stage of cycling’s Tour de France today as Andy Schleck kept the leader’s yellow jersey.
Team Saxo Bank’s Schleck maintained a 31-second lead over defending champion Alberto Contador of Astana, although the jockeying for position between them on the final climb allowed Samuel Sanchez and Denis Menchov to gain time on both. It was the first of four stages in the Pyrenees.
“I’m so happy, I’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time. It’s amazing,” France’s Riblon, who was in tears as he crossed the finish line, told Eurosport after the 184.5- kilometer (115-mile) ride from Revel to the Ax-3 Domaines ski resort. It was his first stage win on the Tour.
Riblon was part of a nine-man breakaway but had opened up a solo lead by the time he was first over the Port de Pailheres, one of the most difficult, or “out of category,” climbs.
He sped down the descent and managed to hang on to the lead until the end of the category-1 ascent to the finish, another climb that’s among the most testing on the Tour.
While Spain’s Contador and Luxembourg’s Schleck were mainly intent on ensuring neither gained a decisive advantage on the other, Menchov and Sanchez followed Riblon over the line, 54 seconds behind him and 14 seconds ahead of the two leading race contenders.
Overall, Sanchez is third, 2 minutes, 31 seconds behind Schleck, with Menchov 13 seconds further back.
Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong finished more than 15 minutes behind the stage winner and is 38th in the overall standings, almost 40 minutes off the lead.