Brotherly love turns Schleck into contender

Associated Press
Brothers Frank (right) and Andy Schleck of Luxembourg are surrounded by photographers on Tuesday's rest day in the Tour de France. Frank Schleck ranks second overall after 10 stages, one second behind race leader Cadel Evans of Australia.

PAU, France --- Frank Schleck of Luxembourg wants ideas.


The Tour de France resumes today, and he's trying to figure out how to erase his one-second deficit to race leader Cadel Evans of Australia.

After 10 stages and more than 46 hours of racing, competitors took a rest day Tuesday after two punishing days in the Pyrenees in which Evans captured the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.

Several rivals wilted up the Tourmalet and Hautacam passes, narrowing the field of likely competitors for cycling's ultimate prize when the three-week race ends in Paris on July 27.

The final shakeout is expected to come in three agonizing stages in the Alps -- each featuring at least one climb that defies classification for difficulty -- and a time trial a day before the Champs-Elysees finish.

Schleck doesn't expect to overtake Evans during today's 11th stage, a 104.1-mile trek from Lannemezan to Foix.

"I ain't gonna catch Cadel," Schleck said beside a pool at the hotel of his Team CSC outside Pau. "I guess it's going to be a breakaway day and the favorites are going to watch each other."

But the prospect of trying to swipe the jersey did cross his mind.

"If you have any other options, I'll take it," he said.

Before the Tour started July 5, Evans gave himself "a pretty good chance to win." He took a big step Saturday by gaining the yellow jersey and widening his lead over Alejandro Valverde of Spain, Damiano Cunego of Italy and Schleck's younger brother, Andy. All were considered title threats before the race.

Frank Schleck beat Evans up the climb to the Hautacam ski station Saturday, then watched on television to see whether he or Evans would take the overall lead from Team Columbia rider Kim Kirchen, also of Luxembourg.

"After two or three minutes they showed the classification, and I saw my name was there, second," Schleck recalled. "And it said (a gap of) one second. I said, 'Damn it.' I had some tears in my eyes. Having the jersey is nice."

He was also disappointed his brother couldn't keep pace.

"We are like twins, and he gave me all of his power -- and he didn't have any left," Schleck said. "I have seen bad days, and I will see some more bad days coming in the next years. But that's life. That's bike riding."

Schleck's Team CSC is strong and has many assets with which to challenge Evans. The last day in the Alps (Stage 17) finishes at the legendary Alpe d'Huez, where Schleck won a stage in 2006.

"Put it this way, we're not going to let Frank Schleck go in an early breakaway on the stage to the Alpe d'Huez the way he did that year," Evans said.

Today's 11th stage of the Tour de France is a 104.1-mile trek through medium mountains from Lannemezan to Foix.



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