Stage 16: Dessel gets his win, Vande Velde loses big time

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.

related articles: Tour de France Tour de France 2008
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