Thomas Voeckler, Andy Schleck, and Cadel Evans are now the remaining contenders for the Tour de France overall victory after Stage 18.

Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez fell out of contention on the climb up Galibier. Ivan Basso and Frank Schleck are long shots, especially since Frank will be riding for his younger brother and the elder Schleck is not good in time trials.

Voeckler, Schleck, Evans all have great potential for winning the entire race. Who will win?  Let's examine each rider.

Thomas Voeckler
The Frenchman Voeckler has been carrying the yellow jersey with pride at the Tour ever since he won it by succeeding in a breakaway on Stage 9.

Voeckler's Europcar team has done an admirable job leading the peloton. In addition, his indomitable lieutenant Pierre Rolland has been with him every step of the way on the hardest climbs.

Many doubted Voeckler could keep the yellow jersey through the Pyrenees and the Alps. However, Voeckler scratched and clawed his way up to Luz Ardiden, Plateau de Beille, and Galibier, keeping up with the contenders and marking several attacks.

Yesterday, in the final kilometer up Galibier, Voeckler battled and lunged towards the finish line to keep his yellow jersey. It was one of the most inspirational moments of the Tour thus far.

The yellow jersey has certainly inspired Voeckler until now, and it may just have the wings to carry him through Alpe D' Huez and the individual time trial.

Andy Schleck
Schleck had been criticized by the media, cycling experts, and the peloton for what appeared to be half-hearted attacks during the Pyrenees stages.

However, Schleck silenced his critics in the Alps yesterday with a gutsy, solo attack 60 km out, with two Hors category climbs still remaining ahead of him.

Team tactics allowed the Leopard-Trek leader to get some relief during his ride, but Schleck powered through the majority of the hardest climbs by himself with a hard charging peloton chasing.

In the end, he pulled to within 15 seconds of Voeckler, and leapfrogged Evans with a 57 second advantage over the Australian.

Schleck will certainly try to drop Voeckler on the climb to Alpe D'Huez and gain whatever time he can on Evans.

Schleck is known for his time trial struggles. However, in last year's Tour, he rode an inspired time trial to keep within 31 seconds of Contador.

If Schleck is able to take yellow on today's climb or pull out another miracle time trial, Schleck has a great shot of winning the Tour de France.

Cadel Evans
Evans was in the best place of the GC contender before the day began on Stage 18. The BMC rider only needed to maintain his position, try to drop Voeckler, and consolidate his lead over the other contenders on the final time trial, which Evans excels at.

However, all that changed after Schleck's daring attack which got Schleck a nearly a four minute gap on Evans before the final climb to Galibier.

In one of the epic chases in modern cycling history, Evans pulled the entire peloton for 10 km up some of the hardest climbs in Tour history, dropping rivals one by one including defending champion Contador.

Evans nailed the gap down to just over two minutes at the line and kept Schleck's advantage to under a minute overall.

If Evans' can keep with Schleck on the climb to Alpe D' Huez, he may be able to gain that minute and more on the final individual time trial which should be difficult for the Leopard-Trek rider. 

 

The contenders are set.  Between Thomas Voeckler, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, who will win Tour de France?

More Tour de France News

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