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Two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has sent out an ominous warning to his rivals tha he means business this year. He cut current race leader Andy Schleck's lead by the end of stage 12 which was won by Span's Joaquin Rodriguez.
A concerted effort from Andy Schleck's Saxo Bank team and Carlos Sastre's Cervelo Test team to reel in the breakaway saw a split in the leading group as four riders, including, Alexandre Vinokourov and Ryder Hesjedal shot clear, establishing a lead of approximately two minutes.
However, on the torturous Montee Laurent Jalabert climb, the leading group of riders swallowed up what remained of the breakaway, during which race favourite Alberto Contador launched a stunning attack on yellow jersey holder Schleck.
Contador quickly opened up a gap, passing all the breakaway riders before the summit.
What he hadn't counted on was fellow Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez hanging onto his rear wheel for the final few hundred metres over the summit and all the way to the finish.
While Schleck showed impressive recovery to reduce the gap to the leading pair, he couldn't close it completely.
Rodriguez made the most of drafting behind Contador to shoot clear at the death and win the sprint finish. Schleck limited the time-loss to Contador to just 10 seconds, enough to ensure he stays in the leader's yellow jersey.