Cerv?lo TestTeam decided to let the breakaway artists take a shot at victory on Sunday in the 160.5km ninth stage from Saint-Gaurdens to Tarbes in the third of three stages across the Pyr?n?es.
Rinaldo Nocentini retained the yellow jersey and Carlos Sastre was protected by four Cerv?lo teammates and finished safely in the pack with his main rivals to remain 16th overall at 2:52 back.
Thor Hushovd’s points jersey was not challenged, so the team did not help to pull in the effort to reel in the attackers and he rolls out of the Pyr?n?es wearing green.
"The most important thing today was to protect Thor’s green jersey. There was an escape early, with four riders up front, so that took the pressure off us before the intermediate sprint," said Cerv?lo TestTeam sport director Alex Sans Vega. "For the rest of the day, it was a question of helping Carlos. We had four riders (Gustov, Cuesta, Marchante and Roulston) in the front group coming over the Tourmalet. Then it was a question of protecting Carlos from the wind all the way to the finish line. Overall, it was a good day considering the difficulty of the climbs."
"It’s all going to be decided in the third week. Carlos is a pretty reserved guy. He says he’s ready," said Cerv?lo’s Brett Lancaster. "Everyone is working really well. We have a couple of guys for the flats, a couple of guys for the mountains and Carlos for the GC, so we’ll see how it goes. It should be exciting."
"The ninth stage of this Tour has been the last of the three stages in the Pyrenees and just as it was expected, it was a costly stage, with a lot of heat, and a high rhythm right from the gun that never slowed down. That’s why there weren’t a lot of attacks from any of the main GC rider, because the valley after the Tourmalet is always very windy and always a headwind. Taking away these 25km when the wind entered a little more favorable, the rest of the day was against the wind, making attacks very difficult," Sastre said after the stage. "For me, it was one day more of this Tour de France, I passed it without any difficulty. Tomorrow is the first rest day, in which we can recuperate our strength and confront the rest of the race with the same hope and with the same motivation that I have right now."