ALPE D’HUEZ, France — Andy Schleck of Luxembourg became the fourth leader of Tour de France, while Tyler Farrar endured a final day in the Alps today and is now about 85 miles from completing the Tour de France for the second time.
Pierre Rolland (Europcar) of France rode to a 12-second solo win in the 68-mile 19th stage that finished with the famous 21 switchbacks to favorite French ski resort, in 3 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds.
Additionally, stage 19 also featured the second ascent to the Col du Galibier, the finishing point of Thursday’s 18th stage and the highest point in Tour de France history.
Farrar, who completed all six stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps as expected in the “gruppetto,” or rear of the field, completed the 19th stage in 154th place, trailing Rolland by 25:27 among 82 riders.
Farrar, who has three top-three finishes, including his first Tour de France individual in stage 3, is 158th among the 167 remaining cyclists, trailing by 3:13:52.
After completing the event in 2009 in his debut, Farrar crashed in stage 2 last year and rode for 10 days with a broken bone in his right hand before withdrawing from the event in stage 12.
Schleck, the race runner-up the past two years, began the stage trailing Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) of France by 15 seconds. But Voeckler, who held the race lead for 10 days, faded on the final climb and fell to fourth place overall, trailing Rolland by 2:10 and Schleck, who placed 9th in the stage, by 1:55.
Frank Schleck, the older brother of the leaders of the Leopard-Trek team, moved into second place, trailing by 53 seconds. Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia is third overall, trailing 57 seconds.
Alberto Contador (SaxoBank-Sungard) of Spain, the two-time defending race titlist, tried to ride to a solo win, leaving the lead group early on the final nine-mile climb. But Contador, who defeated Andy Schleck the past two years, was caught and the left by the stage winner and runner-up Sammy Schleck Euskaltel-Euskadi) of Spain. Contador is now sixth overall, trailing by 3:55.
Two stages remain, Saturday’s 26-mile individual time trail in Grenoble and Sunday’s finale, a 59-mile route from Creteil to the Champs Elysees in Paris. The final stage will likely be won by a sprinter, meaning Farrar could add to his podium finishes.