TdF 2011 - Stage 18
Drama for Mark today on the "Queen Stage" of this year's TdF - a series of brutal climbs from Pinerolo just across the Italian border to Galibier Serre Chevalier.
Mark finished in the autobus outside the time limit, some 35:40 behind stage winner, Andy Schleck - however, this exceeded 10% of Schleck's time and technically, this group would have been disqualified. Luckily, given the size of the group (88 riders) meant that the officials kept the riders in the race with a proviso - that 20 points were lost from the Points Classification (green jersey). This means that Mark's lead over Joaquin Rojas Jose has been cut down to 15 points. Mark had the following to say: "It’s disappointing. We thought we were way out of the time limit with quite a long way to go but it was a lot closer and had we known it might have made a difference - we just have to think about tomorrow now.”
There is one more day in the Alps for Mark to survive - tomorrow's stage - Modane to Alpe-d'Huez. This is followed by a 42.5km time trial on Saturday and then the parade into Paris and one more battle for sprint points and hopefully the green jersey...