Paris: France’s Christophe Riblon took advantage of a tactical bluff by the leading favourites in the first Pyrenees stage of the Tour de France to steal the laurels in the 14th stage on Sunday.
Riblon, who had been part of a nine-man break that went early in the 184.5-km ride, crossed the line on his own in the ski resort of Ax 3-Domaines.
Russian Denis Menchov and Spain’s Samuel Sanchez, the main favourites for a spot on the final podium along with current race leader Andy Schleck and defending champion Alberto Contador, finished second and third in the stage.
Schleck maintained his 31-second lead over Contador in the standings as the pair played hide and seek like sprinters on a cycling track in the final ascent.
The result was that Menchov and Sanchez were left free to go in the final kilometres and take a handful of seconds off the leading pair.
Overall, Sanchez is now 2:31 behind Luxembourg’s Schleck and Menchov is 2:44 adrift.
The 15th stage takes the peloton from Pamiers to Bagneres de Luchon on Monday and looks the most lenient of the four Pyrenees stages on this Tour.