Australian cyclist Cadel Evans of BMC kept his Tour de France hopes alive by virtually working by himself to chase down a daring Andy Schleck attack.

On Stage 18, Schleck surprised the peloton by attacking with 60 km to go. With an Hors category 26 km climb to Galibier remaining ahead, the peloton didn't react to the attack and allowed Schleck to gain a four minute advantage.

In fact, there were several mild attempts by BMC and Alberto Contador's Saxo Bank team to chase down Schleck, however none of them were effective as Schleck continued to increase his lead.

Evans and Contador received virtually little or no help from yellow jersey holder Thomas Voeckler's team Europcar or Ivan Basso's team Liquigas, since those riders were looking for podium finishes. 

Finally, with about 10 km to go, Evans and Contador decided to take on the chase themselves and began taking turns briefly at the front of the peloton.

However, the enigmatic Contador suddenly dropped out of the chase, perhaps due to fatigue, and the work was left to Evans. 

With approximately 9 km to go, Evans attacked and tried to drop the peloton to continue the chase himself, but his attack was nailed by Voeckler's teammate Pierre Rolland. 

From that point on, Evans never looked back and continued up the climb to Galibier dragging who ever could keep up with him to the top of Galibier.

As cycling fans saw the second tick down, Schleck seemed to keep the gap over three minutes throughout the chase.

However, with 1 km to go, Schleck noticeably began to labor and the gap quickly began to shrink.

After Schleck crossed the line, Evans pushed towards the final kilometer with every ounce of effort and energy he had remaining. 

In the end, Schleck gained 2:15 over Evans on the stage and pulled ahead of Evans in the General Classifications standings by 57 seconds.

If Evans can maintain that gap of 57 seconds during tomorrow's stage 19 climb to Alpe D'Huez, Evans may be able to make that time back on the Stage 20 time trial.

Schleck is known for his time trial struggles and Evans could possibly gain back over a minute on Schleck to take the yellow jersey into Paris. 

READ: Andy Schleck's Historic Galibier Ride on Tour de France Stage 18 

READ: Contador and Evans break Tour de France truce

READ: Thomas Voeckler is an Inspiring Hero at Tour de France 2011