Luxemburg’s Frank Schleck has taken out the 17th stage of the Tour De France after a successful tear-away from the main group through the southern French Alps overnight.
Schleck was joined by his brother, and teammate, Andy, and overall leader Alberto Contador in a three-man breakway that proved too strong for the main group.
Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong tried his best to peg back the leaders but fell short, finishing in fifth spot; 2’ 18” behind the winner Schleck.
The result all but ended Armstrong’s hopes of a fairytale tour win. He now sits in fourth position overall and seems focused on a securing a podium finish.
In what was one of the toughest stages so far, the 169.5 km journey from Bourg Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand started off in a blistering pace with sprint leader Thor Hushovd racing out to a five-minute lead midway through the stage to build a 30-point lead in the points classification.
The Astana-led paleton eventually caught the Norwegian with 40 kilometres remaining, and it was here where the major players made their move.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins made the first attack, but was reeled in by Armstrong before the Schleck brothers flew past them with Contador and Andreas Kloden on their tails.
With the finish line nearing, Kloden could not maintain the ferocious pace set by the Team Saxo-Bank riders and fell away from the group with 25 kilometres remaining.
Andy Schleck’s third place has increased his lead in the best young rider classification, while Franco Pellizotti still holds the polka-dot jersey for best climber.
Tonight’s stage is a 40.5 km individual pursuit through the town of Annecy.