Team CSC used its strength in numbers to set up the race perfectly, and in doing so, catapulted Carlos Sastre into the yellow jersey. The team set an incredible pace over the first and second climbs and then used impressive team tactics to launch Sastre to a stage win on Alpe d’Huez and first in the overall standings. CSC teammate Frank Schleck dropped to 2nd, 1:24 back.
Sastre attacked immediately as the race turned left onto the 21 switchbacks of Alpe d’Huez. None of the contenders jumped to cover the move, but the Schleck brothers opened class on how to defend a team member in a break away. Frank Schleck, knowing that Evans would cover any move he attempted, had to let Sastre ride away from the group. He and his brother took advantage of the situation and worked in concert to cover every move off the front. As the chasers danced for position, the overall speed of the chase dropped, allowing Sastre to ride at a comfortorable pace to the top. The Spaniard rode tempo to the top and into the yellow jersey, gaining 1:34 on Evans.
It’s difficult to pick a winning strategy: Evans’ goal to keep Sastre within TT striking distance or Sastre’s need to gain enough time to hold off Evans’ TT attack. Only time will tell. The time-trial (stage 20) is Saturday and it’s set up to be the deciding stage of the tour.
Today, CSC proved that teamwork wins.