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Tour de France

Valverde, Pereiro call Evans’ team ‘weak’

Australian rider Cadel Evans' tenuous grip on the yellow jersey is likely to be undone because of the "weakness" of his Silence-Lotto team, according to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. The Caisse d’Epargne rider virtually dropped out of the running for the overall victory in the Tour de France on the 10th stage from Pau to Hautacam on Monday, when Evans took the race lead by a second from Luxembourg's Frank Schleck of Team CSC.

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By Agence France Presse

Australian rider Cadel Evans’ tenuous grip on the yellow jersey is likely to be undone because of the “weakness” of his Silence-Lotto team, according to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.

The Caisse d’Epargne rider virtually dropped out of the running for the overall victory in the Tour de France on the 10th stage from Pau to Hautacam on Monday, when Evans took the race lead by a second from Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck of Team CSC.

After Tuesday’s rest day, the race resumes with Wednesday’s 11th stage from Lannemezan to Foix – a climbing stage that is not too difficult and should see Evans finish still in the lead.

But Valverde and teammate Oscar Pereiro, the 2006 winner by default, say either Russian Denis Menchov of Rabobank or Spaniard Carlos Sastre of CSC is likely to beat the Australian to the yellow jersey in Paris on July 27.

“I see Denis (Menchov) and Carlos (Sastre) as the main favorites,” said Pereiro on Tuesday. “Sastre is still in the running although he perhaps lacks that little bit extra that could make the difference between winning the Tour or not. I think Menchov is a little bit stronger, he’s going well. Cadel Evans’ team is relatively weak, that’s his main problem.”

Valverde, who dropped to 14th ioverall at four minutes and 41 seconds behind Evans after cracking on the climb over the Col du Tourmalet, echoed his teammate.

“Silence and Rabobank don’t have the strongest of teams and they’re not great in the mountain stages,” he said. “We can’t discount Evans, but I think Menchov and Sastre are now the big favorites, especially Menchov.”

The crucial stages are now the three alpine stages, which begin on July 20, and the penultimate-stage time trial, on July 26.