Arvesen wins 11th stage of Tour de France
17 July 2008
FOIX – CSC’s Kurt-Asle Arvesen is digesting his maiden stage win on the Tour de France as quickly as he can. After all, he knows he has plenty of work ahead to keep him occupied this week.
Arvesen did justice to the red, white and blue shirt of the Norwegian champion’s jersey he was wearing here on Wednesday by winning the 11th stage of the race by the slimmest of margins.
The 33-year-old beat Swiss Martin Elmiger and Alessandro Ballan of Italy to the finish line of the 167.5km from Lannemezan to here to hand his ambitious CSC team their first win of this year’s edition.
"I’ve won two stages at the Giro d’Italia and the under-23 world championships, but this is the biggest win of my career," said Arvesen, the national road race champion.
Arvesen admitted though that he will soon be expected to stand back in line for his normal duties of protecting and helping the riders that are hoping to take possession of the race’s big prize – the yellow jersey.
CSC teammate Frank Schleck, also wearing a red, white and slightly lighter blue as the Luxembourg national champion, finished the day still one second behind race leader Cadel Evans of Australia.
Carlos Sastre, another of CSC’s leading contenders, remained sixth at 1:28 behind Evans.
With little yellow jersey action expected on the final, but easiest day in the Pyrenees, Arvesen was given a rare chance to get in an early breakaway.
And he repaid team boss Bjarne Riis’s generosity with a performance that gives him his maiden Tour win by the width of a wheel rim.
"I got my chance to go in the break, and I took it with both hands," said Arvesen, the second Norwegian to win since the start following Thor Hushovd’s victory on stage two.
"I feel pretty good now at the moment, especially after the rest day. It’s been a really hard Tour for me so far, but I feel ready to for the work I’ll have to do for Carlos and Frank."
CSC’s demonstration of power on the hardest day in the Pyrenees on Monday, which virtually dropped Alejandro Valverde out of yellow jersey contention, was an indication of their strength in depth.
But while Sastre and Schleck are expected to combine in a bid to dispossess Evans, Arvesen is hoping Schleck’s younger brother Andy can also get back into the race.
"As you seen from the stage on Monday we’ve got a really strong team here.
From now on we’ll be concentrating on the general classification and make sure we keep Carlos and Frank up there," he added.
"It’s just a shame for Andy, he lost a little bit of time two days ago, but he’ll be back."
Andy Schleck dropped out of contention on the difficult climb to Hautacam on Monday, ironically after his brother Frank accelerated away at the front.
But the 23-year-old Luxemburger, considered a future winner of the race, said he is not done yet.
"The Tour is far from finished for me," said Andy Schleck, who is racing his first Tour having finished runner-up in last year’s Giro d’Italia.
"At Hautacam I got the bonk, and probably suffered through a lack of experience. It was a short stage, and I made the mistake of not eating or drinking enough.
"But you have to learn from your mistakes. I’ve always said I’ve come here this year for experience, but I’m hoping to make it on to the podium with a stage win."
[AFP / Expatica]