Andy Schleck shares his TDF journey and the idea behind his decision to make a risky move on the 18th stage.
Lying in fourth place overall, 2 min 36 behind Thomas Voeckler, on the 18th stage of the 2011 Tour de France, Andy Schleck decided to make a masterful, but risky, move. On the second climb of this queen stage, the Col de l’Izoard, with 62km still to go to the finish line, Andy Schleck went on the attack.
As he made his move the other Tour favorites did not react, judging that at this stage of the race, the move by Andy Schleck was suicidal. The fight was on. Andy Schleck passes the summit of the Izoard with more than a 2 minute lead and gets closer to the yellow jersey. But the stage is still very long, especially for a rider on his own.
In the valley between the Izoard and the Galibier, Maxime Monfort, Andy Schleck’s teammate who was in the breakaway earlier in the day, gave his last strength to help his leader. At the foot of the Galibier, the Luxemburgish rider had a 3 min 45 lead and did not waver. In this configuration, the more kilometers that passed, the closer he got to a formidable, immeasurable, even legendary feat.
Behind him, the favourites were not collaborating. The closer the finish became, the more the pressure on the shoulders of his pursuers increased. Andy Schleck was turning the Tour de France on its head and the apathy of the other Tour favorites was quite surprising. At 12km from the summit, the gap had increased to 4 min 24!
Cadel Evans, great favourite of this 2011 edition, was forced to take action and took the lead of the chasing pack. The mano a mano between these two great champions was underway. The Australian's reaction was very damaging. Alberto Contador was first to break and Voeckler fought like never before to stay in contact and save his yellow jersey.
"My legs hurt, very bad, but I thought the others were hurting too, of course!"
Andy Schleck (2011)
After 6h 07min 57sec of effort and a solo ride of 62km, Andy Schleck won this 18th stage of the 2011 Tour de France. Behind, although a little late, Cadel Evans' reaction allowed him to limit the damage (2min15 behind Andy) as well as for Thomas Voeckler (2min21 behind) who kept the yellow jersey.
The general classification was nevertheless significantly transformed with the appearance of the Schleck brothers on the provisional podium of the Tour: 1. Thomas Voeckler - 2. Andy Schleck (+15 sec) - 3. Frank Schleck (+1min 08sec) - 4. Cadel Evans (+1min 12sec).
The Luxembourger, with this extraordinary feat, had not only marked the history of the Tour de France, but also the history of cycling. This Thursday, July 21, 2011 will remain engraved as the day of the attack of Mr. Andy Schleck, rightly crowned at the top of the Galibier pass. This stage was without a doubt one of the most beautiful, surprising and spectacular of the 21st century.
The Col du Galibier was used during the 3rd stage of the Haute Route Alps 2021 and the Col de l'Izoard is on the program of the 2022 edition. If you too wish to climb the mythical climbs of cycling history, take part in the Haute Route Alps 2022.