Oakley Leads Tour, 13 Stage Wins and Counting

Sastre Podium

Oakley’s Carlos Sastre produced a stunning performance on the classic stage to Alpe d’Huez to cross the line over two minutes clear and take the Tour de France yellow jersey by one minute, 24 seconds from Oakley teammate and previous leader Frank Schleck. So far in this year’s race, Oakley has won 13 stages and has produced five overall race leaders.

Race favorite Cadel Evans (Oakley) is one minute, 34 seconds back in fourth place, but the Australian remains favorite to win the Tour due to his superior time trial skills, ahead of Saturday’s defining 53km ride against the clock.

It was all-Oakley finish, as Oakley’s Samuel Sanchez, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Alejandro Valverde and Evans tried to catch Sastre at the foot of the Alpe, the climax of the toughest stage of this year’s race.

Sastre is the seventh rider to wear yellow this year, just one short of the all-time Tour record of eight different leaders in a single race. He is expected to retain his advantage over the next two stages, although Thursday’s 197km leg from Bourg d’Oisans to Saint Etienne involves three stiff climbs which might see Evans and Menchov in particular try to claw back some time before Saturday’s time-trial.

“I want to take things day by day,” said Sastre. “Tomorrow I think we’ll spend our time regaining as much energy as possible. In the time-trial, against riders like Evans and Menchov, I don’t think I have much of a chance. Right now, I don’t want to think about 1:34. All I want to do is recuperate ahead of Saturday.”

Meanwhile, Evans remains confident he can still win the Tour.

OAKLEY Stage victories:
STAGE 1: Valverde SPAIN
STAGE 2: Thor Hushovd NORWAY
STAGE 3: Samuel Dumoulin FRANCE
STAGE 4: Stephan Schumacher GERMANY
STAGE 5: Mark Cavendish UK
STAGE 7: Luis Leon Sanchez SPAIN
STAGE 8: Mark Cavendish UK
STAGE 11: Kurt Asle Arvesen NORWAY
STAGE 12: Mark Cavendish UK
STAGE 13: Mark Cavendish UK
STAGE 15: Simon Gerrans AUSTRALIA
STAGE 16: Cyrill Dessel FRANCE
STAGE 17: Carlos Sastre SPAIN

General Classification
1 OAKLEY – Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank
2 OAKLEY – Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner
4 OAKLEY – Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle
7 OAKLEY – Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
8 OAKLEY – Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi


Kiko Gracia


July 24, 2008