Carlos Sastre cycling as spectators pour water and cheer during the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday. (Christophe Ena/The Associated Press)
L'ALPE-D'HUEZ, France: Carlos Sastre, who at one point during the stage Wednesday was fetching water bottles for Frank Schleck, his teammate and the race leader, ended the day taking the yellow jersey off his teammate's shoulders and taking a giant step toward his first grand tour victory.
On the toughest stage of the 95th Tour de France, Sastre, who rides for CSC-Saxo Bank, attacked in the second kilometer of the final climb of the day, a torrid 13.8-kilometer route, or 8.5 miles, up to this Alpine resort. He gained time on every kilometer thereafter, winning the stage by more than two minutes over all the other major contenders and riding into the race lead.
Long considered a top contender in cycling's biggest events but yet to win a big multi-day race, Sastre started this Tour de France as the team's designated leader. But when Schleck moved within one second of the lead with a strong ride in the Pyrenees, Sastre vowed to work for Schleck, which he did, even for much of the 17th stage on Wednesday.
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