Sch­leck says to­day is last chance to win Tour,

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

PAU, France — Andy Sch­leck knows he has one op­por­tu­nity to win the Tour de France — on the climb up the Col du Tour­malet in the Pyre­nees to­day.

He be­lieves the fierce as­cent at the end of the 17th stage is the only place he can wrest the yel­low jersey from two-time cham­pion Al­berto Con­ta­dor and put at least a minute be­tween him and his Span­ish ri­val go­ing into the fi­nal week­end of the three­week race.

“I will have to be in yel­low. There’s only one chance to take it and that’s to­mor­row,” Sch­leck said Wed­nes­day. “With a minute, I would be happy. But if it’s more, that’s bet­ter.”

The Lux­em­bourg rider is eight sec­onds be­hind the de­fend­ing cham­pion in the over­all stand­ings af­ter Con­ta­dor took the lead Mon­day.

The lead­ing rid­ers are un­likely to be able to make up time on each other in Fri­day’s flat stage, and Satur­day’s stage is a time trial, a dis­ci­pline in which Con­ta­dor ex­cels.

Con­ta­dor and Sch­leck are not the only rid­ers with a chance of over­all glory. Spain’s Sa­muel Sanchez is two min­utes be­hind com­pa­triot Con­ta­dor, and De­nis Men­chov of Rus­sia is 13 sec­onds fur­ther back. That sort of gap could be bridged in such a big moun­tain stage.

As well as those look­ing for over­all vic­tory, there are a num­ber of other rid­ers seek­ing a vic­tory on the Tour­malet. They in­clude seven-time cham­pion Lance Arm­strong, who just missed out on a stage win in Tues­day’s hard moun­tain stage.

“It’s not yet fin­ished,” said Johan Bruyneel, man­ager of Arm­strong’s Ra­dioShack team. “There’s a sin­gle (moun­tain) stage left (to­day). … We’re go­ing to try again.”

Andy Sch­leck

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