The World Champion lost ground on the pack containing the major general classification contenders on the dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final climb up the Col de la Madeleine, finishing over eight minutes behind stage winner Sandy Casar.
The Frenchman won a sprint from Luis LeÃƒÂ³n SÃƒÂ¡nchez and Damiano Cunego but the dayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s real winners were the leading pair of Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.
SaxobankÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Schleck will wear the leadersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ jersey tomorrow but he lies just a tantalising 41 seconds ahead of reigning champion Contador.
The two engaged in some magnificent sparring on the final climb, as the relentless pace gradually burned off the rest of the field.
Schleck, wearing the white jersey of the best young rider, attacked his Spanish opponent on three occasions but Contador was more than equal to the challenge.
The pair then descended at pace together, finishing just two seconds behind the leading three riders and alongside the French duo of Anthony Charteau and Christophe Moreau.
The result will be particularly pleasing for Contador, the superior time-trial rider of the two, who had failed to match his Luxembourger rival on SundayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opening Alpine stage.
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