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Contenders gain ground on Voeckler in the Alps

PINEROLO, Italy — Defending champ Alberto Contador couldn't shake his multiple shadows on a dangerous descent in the Tour de France's first day in the Alps, but yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler of France got a taste of the sharp end of the race, losing time to almost all the big contenders.

Contador made repeated attempts to break away, hoping to emulate the gains the Spaniard made over brothers Andy and Frank Schleck a day earlier. But he finished alongside the brothers from Luxembourg, Australian Cadel Evans and Spain's Samuel Sanchez.

Only Voeckler, who dropped back after several mistakes on the final descent, and Italy's Ivan Basso lost time. Voeckler still holds the yellow jersey of race leader, but now it's only 1 minute 18 seconds over Evans.

"I tried to attack in the downhill because I wanted to gain some seconds, and instead, I lost some. But that's my style: to try," said Voeckler.

The 17th stage, 111 miles across the Alps from Gap to the Italian town of Pinerolo, was won by Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen, his second victory of the race.

>>fast facts

Tour de France

Wednesday: Stage 17, first of three Alpine mountain stages, 111 miles from Gap to Pinerolo, Italy. Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen won, 40 seconds ahead of Dutchman Bauke Mollem.

Yellow jersey: Thomas Voeckler lost 27 seconds of his lead to all his main rivals. Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans finished 4 minutes, 26 seconds behind Hagen, in a group that included Samuel Sanchez and brothers Frank and Andy Schleck.

Today: Stage 18, 125 miles includes three "beyond category" climbs in the race's second half, starting with Col Angel and the Col d'Izoard, and finishing on top the legendary Col du Galibier.

TV: 7 a.m., Versus

Contenders gain ground on Voeckler in the Alps 07/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 9:14pm]
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