Today's brutal 105-mile Alpine
stage of the Tour de France delivered serious fireworks and resulted in the first big shift of overall classification of the race---with just four difficult stages to go. Alberto Contador retained the leader's yellow jersey, or maillot jaune
, but the subsequent standings were completely shuffled as the brothers Schleck, Andy and Frank
---Luxembourgers who ride for team Saxo Bank---slotted into second and third place, respectively.
The day was less kind to seven-time Tour champ Lance Armstrong, who dropped to fourth place, 3:55 back, and Garmin-Slipstream's Bradley Wiggins, who dropped from third to sixth and is now 4:53 behind Contador. Christian Vande Velde, who rode valiantly in support of Wiggins, lost time and is now more than eight minutes back from Contador, but moved up from 10th to eighth place.
"What a day," Vande Velde wrote on his Twitter feed today. "It was my pleasure riding for Wiggo [Bradley Wiggins] today. Tomorrow is a very different day, but will hurt the same none the less."
Tomorrow's stage 18 is a 24-mile individual time trial in Annecy, which should shake up the leader board yet again.