Results tagged “Stage 16” from spare cycles

letour.jpgLots of riders were sent up the road today -- some for individual glory, some as GC pawns. Cyril Dessel took the glory and didn't even seem to see the finish line as he sprinted across ahead of Casar, Arroyo, and Popovych. Columbia seemed well positioned with Hincapie and Siutsou in the break, but they weren't able to make the selection over the top of the final Cime de la Bonette. Schumacher spent much of the day off the front by himself but full apart on the Cime de la Bonette-Restafond.

CSC continues to dominate the peloton in the mountains. O'Grady, Cancellara, and Gustov all went to the front to crack some legs on the Cime de la Bonette-Restafond. They also won the send-a-teammate-up-the-road sweepstakes as both Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Jens Voigt were able to come back and provide assistance and tempo. When it wasn't one of those riders in front, it was grimacing face of Andy Schleck dosing out the pain pills. Bjarne Riis wanted more climbs to force selections, but even with the full armada firing salvos, CSC didn't push the group hard enough -- perhaps they were saving energy for tomorrow.

Vande Velde was the big casualty, losing time on final climb and then even more time on the descent as he crashed. Luckily he was able to have Ryder Hesjedal drop back from the break to help out. Menchov was a smaller casualty as he became unhitched on the windy descent to the finish -- Kirchen joined him on the chase to the finish. Valverde lost ground on the steep ramps at the top of the Bonette, but his descending skills got him back into the yellow-jersey group.

Evans seemed unthreated by the pressure of CSC, even prefering to weather it all himself san teammates. He had Popovych up the road, but Popovych got the green light to go for the stage win instead of dropping back to provide help Evans. CSC has to hope that they hurt his legs enough before tomorrow's Galibier-Telegraphe-Croix de Fer-Alpe d'Huez smackdown.

The Tour's youngest rider John-Lee Augustyn of Barloworld probably had the best and worst day of his career: he took the final climb up the Bonette-Restafond, then proceeded to shoot straight off the side of the mountain on the descent. The helicopters were there to catch his head-first belly-slide down the slopes in all its glory, but most importantly he was not seriously injured.

Tour de France '07 Stage 16 Link Roundup

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NOTE: travel day today for me, coverage sporadic

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Discovery hit Rasmussen with everything they had, isolating Rasmussen early on the slopes of the Col d'Aubisque. Levi and Contador launched attacks back and forth, but in the end it was Rasmussen who launched the final attack in the final kilometer to take the stage win. Rasmussen rolled through to a chorus of cheers and boos.

Discovery's game plan was near perfect, but Rasmussen was not to be broken. Popovych went to the front to set a blistering pace after Rabobank's Menchov cracked. Boogerd was quickly shed as well, leaving Rasmussen all by himself. Soon it was just six riders, with three of those riders from Discovery. Levi launched the first attack and zoomed past Sastre's and Mayo's breakaway. Levi and Contador exchanged attacks on Rasmussen until it was just Contador and Rasmussen together, with Levi and Evans chasing. Levi was able to chase back up and setup the final selection for the day: Leipheimer, Rasmussen, and Contador.

Levi led Contador and Rasmussen up the slopes of the Aubisque with Evans dangling behind. Rasmussen was in control, worried more about waving off TV motos than Leipheimer's and Contador's efforts. He even took the time to encourage Levi's effort at the front to move onto the podium over Evans. The attacks from Discovery were over and as the final kilometer kite dangled overhead, Rasmussen left Contador and Rasmussen in his dust. Levi jumped for second to take the 0:12 time bonus and a 0:43 gap on Evans. Evans fought valiantly to keep his losses to a minimum, even pulling back some time before losing most of it in the final kilometer. Levi pulled to within 0:56 of Evans, so Levi will have to ride the time trial of his career to finish in third -- he seems motivated to do it, but Evans is the unofficial winner of the first time trial.

Sastre tried to make it his day by attacking on the very first mountain and being joined by Mayo and Soler, but by the Aubisque their lead was less than a minute -- it didn't last very long with Discovery's assault on Rabobank. The break was worthwhile for Soler, who took most of the KOM points on the day to move into the KOM lead (he no longer has to wear a borrowed jersey from Rasmussen). Soler moved into the tenth overall.

Valverde moved into seventh place while Kirchen dropped to eighth. Astarloza lost his top-ten placing.

The stage was harsh on the peloton today. It was whittled down to 25 riders on the very first climb and many riders spent their time chasing back on the descents.

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Stage 16: Mourenx - Pau

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arm pereiro finish

(AP Photo/Ena/Edme/Trovati)

Pereiro loudly complained about Hincapie's victory yesterday -- Hincapie had sat on Pereiro's wheel on the final climb and came around at the end to take the victory. That was uphill, where drafting doesn't matter as much.

Today, Pereiro and two other riders sat on Evans wheel on a flat stage sprint, letting Evans pull for the final 5k or so. In the final sprint Pereiro jumped around Evans' wheel and took the stage victory. Evans did all the work because he wanted to jump into the top ten in the overall standings, so he had no time to lose time and play games.

This is not to say Pereiro didn't deserve to win today -- he more than earned this finish after riding himself into the "Most Aggressive Rider" designation and doing his work for teammates Botero and Landis. He also nearly soloed his way to victory on this stage but was stopped short by a rock in his wheel that forced him to wait for repairs. Perhaps he should be more careful, though, about what he chooses to complain about, lest people like me make these snarky comparisons.

Despite not getting the stage victory, it was a big day for Evans who climbed all the way into seventh place, with Landis and Vino right behind him. It should make for a good time trial performance by all three. The Tour from here on out is about the sprinters green jersey competition and a time trial to determine who places in the Top Ten, or rather, in 2nd-10th place, as everyone has long conceded that Armstrong is The Boss. Rasmussen is probably in the toughest spot right now: he's riding in a podium position right now (3rd), but sitting in 4th place in Jan Ullrich who can tear the cranks off his bike when it comes to the time trial. Rasmussen has already accomplished all of his goals for this Tour -- King of the Mountains and a stage win -- but those suprise accomplishments are always welcome.

Stage profile and my stage log in the extended.

Tour de France Stage 16: Pau-Bayonne

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stage profile

Hamilton Finish PhotoToday was Super Hamilton's day. After the peloton split and Hamilton fell into the back group, five of his teammates came back and bridged him back to the peloton.

With about 140 kilometers to go in the race Hamilton launched went off the front of the peloton to chase down the lead group. His teammate Sorenson, who up in the lead group fell back to bridge Hamilton into the lead group.

Hamilton joined the lead group on the first big climb (Col du Soudet) and never looked back. With Sorenson helping him along he was able to drop the other riders on the second big climb. He broke out a 5 minute lead on the peloton with about 30 kilometers to go, at which point he pretty much had the win sealed up. Despite possibly needing the seconds for the GC, he took the time to point at his team manager, Bjarne Riis, shake hands, and then cross the finish line. Armstrong even came up and gave him a hug as headed into the trailer to change for the podium.