Tour de France 2010: Andy Schleck Grabs Yellow Jersey

Andy Schleck finished seventh in the punishing Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Stage 9, enough for the 2009 runner-up to grab the yellow jersey as the Tour de France approaches its halfway mark.

Schleck came in two seconds behind stage winner Sandy Casar to bolt into the overall lead, displacing erstwhile leader Cadel Evans, who faded away after finishing the stage in 42nd place, more than eight minutes behind.

Defending champion Alberto Contador stayed close to Schleck by finishing in sixth place and remained on target for a second-straight Tour title. Schleck leads Contador by 41 seconds going into Wednesday’s tenth stage from Chambery to Gap. Evans may have thrown away his chances of winning this year as he now sits in 18th place, 7:47 behind Schleck.

Meanwhile, seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who conceded after a disastrous Stage 8, was trouble free this time and finished a respectable 18th place, 2:50 behind Casar. Armstrong is in 31st place overall, 15:54 out of the lead with 11 stages to go.

The climbing skills of the riders will be tested again on Wednesday as the 179-kilometer tenth stage features three medium- to high-level climbs.