Garmin-Cervélo rode with strength in Friday’s short but explosive stage over the Galibier and up Alpe d’Huez to keep Tom Danielson in the top-10 and defend its lead in the team classification.
Ryder Hesjedal attacked up the Alpe d’Huez and later led the team with 10th on the stage. Danielson crossed the line with him in 11th to secure ninth place overall going into Saturday’s time trial stage at Grenoble.
“It was a very hard stage today and I happy to have gotten through it in good shape. It broke up when Contador attacked on the Telegraphe and I was in a good group over the Galibier, but it all came back together for the Alpe d’Huez,” Danielson said. “I ate a lot to prepare for the time trial tomorrow, so I couldn’t quite go with the accelerations early, but I was able to come back to finish well. Ryder was right there to help me, so everything turned out OK.”
Garmin-Cervélo kept all their top GC riders in good position in the 109.5km stage. Danielson and Hesjedal rode with the Evans chase group over the Galibier summit while Christian Vande Velde was well-positioned in the yellow jersey group.
Danielson and Hejsedal erased a 31-second gap on the descent to regain contact with the attacking Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck to form a 14-rider grow to set up an exciting duel up the 21 switchbacks on cycling’s most famous climb.
Hesjedal shot out in a daring attack at the base of Alpe d’Huez and later helped pace Danielson to the line.
Vande Velde later crossed the line 19th to strengthen the team’s grip on the team classification with just two stages left to go.
Garmin-Cervélo now leads Ag2r-La Mondiale by 11:58. With a strong time trial performance Saturday, the team is poised to lock up the prestigious team classification.
The 98th Tour continues Saturday with the penultimate stage in the 43.5km individual time trial at Grenoble.
The rolling course will provide Garmin-Cervélo with a chance to seal its GC standing going into Sunday’s finale down the Champs-Élysées, when Tyler Farrar and Thor Hushovd will have another shot at victory.
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