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Christophe Riblon claimed his first ever Tour de France stage win with a storming ride over the 184.5 km stage in the Pyrenees.
The difficult finish was likely to push the riders to their limits with the route fairly flat. Former winner Lance Armstrong certainly seemed to be feeling the heat on the punishing stage. But a break away group, which numbered nine in all, came together after just 24 km of the stage and stayed together for three-and-a-half hours, stretching their lead to ten minutes at one point.
From there, Alberto Contador's Astana team dominated, dragging back the breakaway group before increasing the pace on the first climb to shed several leading riders. The two-time Tour winner made repeated attacks on current tour leader Andy Schleck. But the Luxembourger paid a price for his duel with Contador - his reluctance to seize the initiative in the stage allowed Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez to eat into his overall tour lead. But it was the surprise package of Christophe Riblon who made the most of the stage. He dropped all his breakaway rivals and maintained lead. Others could do little to stop Riblon who powered home in a time of four hours 52 minutes and 42 seconds. Schleck retains the yellow jersey after finishing in fourth place.