Tour de France 2010: Contador Retains Yellow Jersey

Andy Schleck attacked as he promised, but despite giving everything he could offer in Thursday’s 17th stage, he could not shake off defending champion Alberto Contador, who moved a step closer to winning his second-straight Tour de France title.

Schleck launched a lung-busting breakaway in the last six miles of the 108-mile route from Pau to Col du Tourmalet only to see Contador follow him like a shadow. Needing a big win in the last mountain stage to take the yellow jersey, Schleck tried several times to burst ahead of his rival, but to no avail. Schleck eventually won the stage but Contador maintained his 8-second lead by finishing just half-a-bike behind. Schleck and Contador were so strong in the stage that the next rider to finish, Joaquin Rodriguez, came in 1 minute and 18 seconds later.

After the stage, Schleck acknowledged the strength of Contador. “I gave everything I had today…but I just couldn’t drop him.”

Despite keeping the yellow jersey with three stages left, including his favorite, the time trial, Contador refused to write off Schleck. “It is possible to lose the Tour at any time because it’s not finished… Andy is very strong. We can expect him to be really good in the time trial,” Contador said.

The Tour will return to flat lands in the final three days, starting with the 18th stage from Salies-de-Bearn to Bordeaux on Friday. The individual time trial will be held on Saturday from Bordeaux to Pauillac before the Tour concludes on Sunday with the trip to Paris Champs-Elysees.