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“Of course I’d like to take more time going into the time trial,” Evans said. “I’d much rather be in yellow, with five minutes” going into the stage.

Evans said he’d follow a simple strategy Saturday: “Start as fast as possible, finish as fast as possible, hope you’re fast enough.”

Schleck took the yellow jersey from Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who cracked on the day’s first climb and never managed to catch the leaders despite a gritty struggle up the Alpe d’Huez.

Schleck made good on his promise Thursday to capture the jersey, after he missed taking the lead on top of the Galibier pass by only 15 seconds after launching a daring solo attack.

Now he has Sunday’s finish line firmly in his sights.

“My motivation is super, my legs are good, my condition is there, so I’m confident I can keep this till Paris,” Schleck said.

He rode much of the day in a small group alongside Contador, but chose not to follow when the Spaniard attacked at the bottom of the 8.5-mile ascent up the Alpe d’Huez.

“I had no interest in chasing Contador or Sanchez,” Schleck said, as neither rider was in contention for the yellow jersey. “Today I had bigger goals than to win the stage.”

Rolland crossed the line after attacking near the end of the day’s route, packed with thousands of wildly cheering cycling fans.

Rolland, a 24-year-old rider for team Europcar, attacked as the demanding 68-mile trek over three difficult climbs drew to a tense finish, finally dropping Contador and Sanchez as he neared the end of the ascent to 6,100 feet.

Rolland, who is riding in his third Tour, clenched his fists and grinned widely as he crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of Sanchez and 23 seconds in front of Contador.

“I grew up watching Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani, watching how they climb the Alpe d’Huez,” Rolland said. “Now I’ve won the Alpe d’Huez, it’s going to take a minute to sink in.”

Andy Schleck was 57 seconds behind Rolland in a group of six riders that included his brother and Evans.

Voeckler finished 3 minutes and 21 seconds behind Rolland, losing the yellow jersey he had worn for 10 days. The Frenchman dropped to fourth place overall, 2:10 behind.