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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Main page    Stage profile    Start List    Results

Stage 16 - Wednesday July 24: Les Deux Alpes - La Plagne, 179.5 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 11:45 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

11:15 CEST
Welcome to our live coverage of the 16th stage of the Tour de France. Today is the second day in the Alps, and probably the toughest, especially after yesterday's 226 kilometre marathon finishing at Les Deux Alpes. Today's stage is 'only' 179.5 kilometres (excluding the 10.5 km neutralised descent from Les Deux Alpes), but it includes three hors categorie climbs - the hardest mountains that the riders face.

To start with, there is the feared Col du Galibier (km 34), with its summit at 2645m - the highest point in the Tour de France this year. The first rider to the top will score 40 points in the King of the Mountains competition, but will also win a special prize, 'Souvenir Henri Desgranges' named after the founder of the Tour.

Next up is the Col de Madeleine (km 112), which is nearly a 20 km climb at 7.9%. It is relentlessly steep, pretty much all the way to the top, and will do more than just soften up the riders' legs for later. Finally there is the finishing climb to La Plagne, another 17.7 kilometres at 6.9%, and sure to cause a lot of damage in the peloton.

The two sprints on offer today are at St Avre (km 90.5) and Bellecombe (km 142), so both McEwen and Zabel will have to make it over the Galibier in the lead group in order to resume their battle in this competition.

11:45 CEST
The descent of Les Deux Alpes has been completed, and the riders are now under racing conditions for the 16th stage. First up is the 33.5 kilometre climb of the Col du Galibier. Although long, it's average gradient is only 4.7 percent, but the last 10 kilometres are steeper.

The weather today is beautiful at the start - sunny conditions, with temperatures in the mid 20's. As we head north across the Alps, the forecast is for some high clouds, with some spritzes of rain in La Plagne.

11:56 CEST
As the peloton rides en bloc on the first climb, the Australians Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen are seen chatting at the front of the bunch. McEwen's Lotto teammates are mostly at the back of the peloton, but they don't have to be too concerned yet as the tempo is only moderate.

12:16 CEST - 12 km
No early action yet, as the peloton is content to tackle the Col du Galibier at a steady pace. Things will get more interesting as they approach the top, with the mountain points competition still fairly open, despite Laurent Jalabert's 53 point lead.

Lance Armstrong is in the first row of the peloton, as is McEwen, Merckx, O'Grady and several more.

12:25 CEST - 17 km
The pace is still quite slow, as Lance Armstrong drops back through the peloton to chat with the CSC director Johnny Weltz (former manager of US Postal). Several riders take advantage of the speed to stop for the obligatory nature break, although Robbie McEwen isn't one of them.

Temperatures expected on the tops of the three mountains today: 10 degrees on the Galibier, 13 on the Madeleine and 14 degrees on La Plagne.

12:42 CEST - 21 km
The peloton is over halfway up the Galibier, still cruising along at 22-23 km/h. There have been no indications of an attack yet, which is not surprising considering what lies ahead, and how hard the Tour has been so far.

12:50 CEST - 23 km
With 10 kilometres to the top of the Galibier, the peloton is still complete, riding at a very steady pace with 10 riders in the front rank. Although the conditions at the moment are fine, it's reported that there are high winds at the top of the peak, so strong that the banner at the top had to be taken down.

13:00 CEST - 26 km
There will be no records broken in today's stage, with just 26 kilometres covered in the first hour and a quarter - significantly slower than the organisers' slowest schedule of 30 km/h. They have gone past the Col du Lautaret, and are 6 km from the Monument Henri Desgrange, which is located 1.5 km from the top.

The climb is getting steeper now, and there are more US Postal jerseys near the front. Robbie McEwen is still in the first row.

A number of readers have asked us why Lance Armstrong uses two different gear shifters: a standard STI lever on the right hand side (for the rear cogs) and a downtube lever on the left hand side (for the front chainrings).

This is not a new thing - climbers like Armstrong like to shave as much weight as possible from their bikes. A downtube lever is lighter than an STI lever, and seeing as most of the gear changing during a ride happens with the rear cogs, there is not too much functionality lost by having a left hand downtube lever.

13:07 CEST - 28 km
The first attack of the day has been made by iBanesto's Marzio Bruseghin, who accelerates away from the peloton on one of the steeper sections. He is allowed to go, until an ONCE rider decides to go after him, with the peloton right behind. Now the pace has picked up, and the bunch is strung out. Jalabert is prominent near the front, as is Boogerd, and Unai Osa. Armstrong is about 10th wheel.

13:11 CEST - 29 km
Bruseghin has a 15 second lead on a group of 8 riders including Pradera, Fagnini, Blanco, Engels, Boogerd, Jalabert, who are just in front of the peloton.

Jalabert accelerates to try and keep the tempo up, but is countered by Portuguese rider Jose Azevedo, who has ridden excellently during the Tour and is lying in 6th place.

A new group forms with Nozal, Azevedo, Blanco, Jalabert, Boogerd, Pradera, Osa, Botero, Sevilla. No US Postals, but the peloton won't let these riders go far.

13:16 CEST - 31 km
With three kilometres to go before the top of the Col du Galibier, it's Marzio Bruseghin who leads the race by a handful of seconds, being chased by a group of nine riders: Isidro Nozal, Jose Azevedo, Mikel Pradera (ONCE), Santi Blanco, Unai Osa (iBanesto), Laurent Jalabert, Michael Boogerd, Santi Botero, and Oscar Sevilla (Kelme).

The peloton is at 18 seconds, led by US Postal, and Tyler Hamilton has just accelerated off the front. Virenque is reported to be dropped.

13:21 CEST - 33.5 km/146 km to go
Bruseghin is determined, and picks up the pace in order to be first over the top of the Tour's highest point, the 2645m Col du Galibier. But he is caught just before the top by Santiago Botero, the winner of yesterday's stage who gets 40 points and the Souvenir Henri Desgranges. Jalabert is third, followed by Osa. Now they have a 60 km descent off the mountain, and this could be the break of the day.

The peloton, led by US Postal, cross at 59 seconds.

Virenque comes over at 2'30 in the Danilo Hondo group - not good for someone with ambitions on the polka dot jersey. Actually, Santiago Botero has a greater chance of winning this, as he trails Jalabert by 65 points. He made up 10 of those on that climb.

13:30 CEST - 40 km/139.5 km to go
The 9 man leading group has a minute on the peloton on the descent, with Tyler Hamilton stuck in between trying to bridge the gap. The composition of the group is interesting, with three ONCE riders, two iBanestos and two Kelmes. Also Laurent Jalabert (CSC) and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) are there. The best placed riders in the break are Azevedo, who is 6th at 11'11, and Botero, who is 7th at 11'31.

The Spanish teams have obviously decided to test Armstrong's US Postal squad, who are engaged in a rapid chase down the Col du Galibier, with Armstrong in third wheel.

The group is as follows:

José Azevedo (ONCE-Eroski)
Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski)
Mikel Pradera (ONCE-Eroski)
Oscar Sevilla (Kelme-Costa Blanca)
Santiago Botero (Kelme-Costa Blanca)
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali)
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)
Marzio Bruseghin (iBanesto.com)
Unai Osa (iBanesto.com)

13:37 CEST - 48 km/132 km to go
Hamilton doesn't make it across, but Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) does, joining the nine leaders to make a group of 10. Blanco was dropped from the group, and is back in the peloton.

George Hincapie is leading the chase for USPS, 40 seconds behind.

13:42 CEST - 53 km/127 km to go
Michael Boogerd can't believe the break doesn't want to work together, and accelerates on the Col du Telegraph, a very short climb after Valloire, that interrupts the descent of the Galibier.

Jalabert tries, too late, to go after Boogerd. He sits up and waits for Sevilla and co. to catch him. There are no mountain points for the Col du Telegraph so there is not much point. However, the Postal led peloton is close behind.

13:47 CEST - 55 km/125 km to go
Boogerd has a 15 second lead as the break destroys itself and is caught by the peloton.

Stuart O'Grady attacks on the descent on the Telegraph, Bodrogi follows him through the motorbikes and then Fagnini, followed by an Ag2r, Euskaltel and Kelme rider.

13:56 CEST - 61 km/119 km to go
Boogerd and O'Grady are now together, followed by Fagnini and Hunter. Just behind them are Gutierrez (Kelme), Axel Merckx (Domo), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r).

O'Grady has dropped Boogerd.

14:00 CEST - 67 km/113 km to go
The situation on the descent of the Col du Telegraph is that Stuart O'Grady (CA) is leading on his own, followed by Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Robert Hunter (Mapei). Not far behind them are Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme), Axel Merckx (Domo), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r), then the peloton with the Maillot Jaune at 20 seconds.

Laurent Jalabert has caught the Gutierrez group at the bottom.

When the reach the bottom, they will have a headwind all the way to the Col de Madeleine.

14:05 CEST - 73 km/107 km to go
O'Grady gets caught by Boogerd, Hunter and Fagnini, making a group of four at 50 seconds in front of the peloton. The five chasers, including Laurent Jalabert (CSC), Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme), Axel Merckx (Domo), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r) are 30 seconds behind the leaders, and 20 seconds in front of the peloton.

14:12 CEST - 76 km/103 km to go
O'Grady's group of four lead the Jalabert group of five by 35 seconds as they pass through the feedzone at St Jean de Maurienne. Then there is a group of three, with Miguel Martinez (Mapei), Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) and Marcos Serrano (ONCE) at 55 seconds. The peloton is now at 2'20, and will probably let these riders get a bit of a lead before the Madeleine.

The best placed rider in the break(s) is Michael Boogerd, who is 17th at 19'15.

14:17 CEST - 80 km/99 km to go
Jalabert's group decides to wait for Martinez and co, so now we have a group of eight riders chasing the O'Grady/Hunter/Fagnini/Boogerd quartet. US Postal leads the peloton at 2'15 from the front riders.

14:23 CEST - 84 km/95 km to go
The peloton has decided not to chase the 12 riders up the road, as none of them pose a real threat. In the leading group we have:

Gian Matteo Fagnini (Team Deutsche Telekom)
Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole)
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)
Robert Hunter (Mapei-Quick Step)

Chasing them at 1'10 are:

Marcos A.Serrano (ONCE-Eroski)
José Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca)
Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali)
Axel Merckx (Domo-Farm Frites)
Miguel Martinez (Mapei-Quick Step)
Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre Daikin)
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance)

The peloton is now at 3'40.

14:31 CEST - 89 km/90 km to go
The leading four pass through the first sprint at St Avre, with O'Grady taking the points from Fagnini and Hunter - not without a contest!

The current situation in the sprint classification is that Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen are tied in first place on 229 points (McEwen wears the green, by virtue of better stage placings) and O'Grady is in third place on 170 points. It's perhaps too late for him to challenge for the green jersey now, but he could pick up 12 points on this stage, or more if he stays away until the end.

The Jalabert group is now at 1'30 with the peloton at 5'00.

14:38 CEST - 86 km/93 km to go
The leaders hit the Col de Madeleine, a 19.4 km climb averaging 7.9 percent. Michael Boogerd wastes no time in attacking - or simply riding at his own rhythm while the sprinters are forced to let him go. Jalabert's group is still at 1'30, but they should catch O'Grady, Hunter and Fagnini on this climb.

The peloton are being fairly lethargic, letting Boogerd get a 7'12 lead now as they pass through the sprint at St Avre.

14:45 CEST - 92 km/87 km to go
Boogerd is climbing well, leaving his erstwhile companions behind on the Col de la Madeleine. O'Grady and co. trail the Dutchman by 50 seconds, with Jalabert's eight man group at 2'15. The peloton is still at 7'15.

As he did yesterday, Domo's Axel Merckx is doing a lot of work on the climb in Jalabert's group. The other riders in that group are Marcos A.Serrano (ONCE-Eroski), José Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Miguel Martinez (Mapei-Quick Step), Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre Daikin), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance)

14:51 CEST - 97 km/82 km to go
Boogerd increases his lead to 8'11 over the peloton, which is cruising up the base of the Madeleine, led by US Postal. Gian Matteo Fagnini is following Boogerd at 45 seconds, then O'Grady and Hunter at 55 seconds, then Jalabert's group of eight at 2'55.

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) has abandoned. He was lying in 11th overall before today's stage, and was in the front group over the Galibier. Kelme now has five riders.

14:59 CEST - 100 km/79 km to go
Boogerd's face is set in concentration as he stands on the pedals, rocking his way gently up the climb. Fagnini, O'Grady and Hunter are following him at 2'15, then Jalabert's group which is disintegrating rapidly at 3 minutes. Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) accelerates, and gets clear. Jalabert and Turpin chase behind him, as Serrano, Merckx, Martinez, Dierckxsens and Gutierrez are put in difficulty. Ludo is on his own, slowly making his way back the peloton.

15:02 CEST - 101 km/78 km to go
Mayo catches and passes O'Grady, Hunter and Fagnini, who are in turn caught by Jalabert and Turpin. Viatcheslav Ekimov and Floyd Landis are on the front of the peloton, which is picking up speed on the climb, but is still quite large.

Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) attacks the peloton.

Boogerd leads Mayo, Jalabert and Turpin by 2'51, and the peloton by 8'31.

15:08 CEST - 103 km/76 km to go
With 9 km to the top of the day's second climb, the Col de la Madeleine, it's Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) in the lead on his own. Boogerd has been in the front group of the race ever since the attacks started on the Col du Galibier. He has 2'45 on a group with Laurent Jalabert, Ludovic Turpin and Iban Mayo, and 3'30 on O'Grady, Hunter and Fagnini. The peloton is at 8'43, led by USPS.

Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) has abandoned. In total, 29 riders have abandoned the race for various reasons. Cyclingnews has a list of withdrawals that you can check to see who abandoned in earlier stages.

15:14 CEST - 105 km/74 km to go
Boogerd is now "virtually" in 5th place overall, given that he has a nine minute lead. However, that can vanish on the final climb if the peloton starts to chase.

Ray asks why does the peloton let these breaks get so much time each day? Normally, it's because the leader's team doesn't want to race flat out all day in pursuit of people who are generally no threat on the General Classification. Case in point: Michael Boogerd, who started the day over 19 minutes behind. It's highly unlikely that he'll keep that lead to the finish.

On a flatter stage, you'll see the teams with good sprinters trying to keep the race together, in order to set things up for their fast man at the end. They generally have no interest in doing so on a mountain stage, so breaks are allowed to stay away. The rest of the peloton is quite content to sit on the wheels, as most of them are fairly tired by this stage of a grand tour.

15:24 - 108 km/71 km to go
As Jalabert's group passes through St Francois Longchamp, they are joined by Miguel Martinez(!). The Mapei midget has fought his way back, after being dropped earlier. They trail Michael Boogerd by 2'55.

Behind Jalabert's group are the remnants of the earlier break, with O'Grady, Gutierrez, Merckx, Serrano, Hunter all scattered along the road. The peloton is still at 8'20, now led by iBanesto and ONCE. Richard Virenque is trying to get back to the main peloton, and is not finding it that easy.

15:31 - 111 km/68 km to go
Virenque gets a couple of well timed drinks from the Domo team car, and makes it back onto the tail of the peloton, which is still quite large and being led by ONCE and and iBanesto rider.

Boogerd has 1 km to go to the top of the Madeleine. 3'18 behind him are Laurent Jalabert, Miguel Martinez, Ludovic Turpin and Iban Mayo. Jalabert will therefore increase his lead in the mountains competition.

15:39 - 114 km/65 km to go
Boogerd takes a can of coke from his team director just before the top, and downs it before the descent starts. He has 67 km to go and must fancy his chances of winning the stage - he put time into the peloton on the Madeleine. Jalabert's group comes across at 3'15 led by Jalabert, Martinez, Mayo and Turpin in that order. O'Grady is next over at 3'40 - not bad going and he should catch these riders on the descent.

Virenque has gone off the back of the peloton again

Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com) has abandoned. He's the third rider to do so today after Sevilla and Dufaux.

15:43 - 116 km/63 km to go
O'Grady quickly catches Jalabert's group and goes to the front. He and Jalabert are two of the best descenders in the race, and will make up time on Boogerd on the way down. O'Grady might be able to pick up another 4 sprint points at the next sprint at Bellecombe (km 142).

The peloton, with US Postal's George Hincapie leading the way now, crosses the Madeleine at 7'43. All the top GC riders are quite comfortable within the peloton.

15:48 - 124 km/55 km to go
The results of the Col de la Madeleine: 1. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), 2. Laurent Jalabert, 3. Miguel Martinez, 4. Iban Mayo, 5. Ludovic Turpin 6. Stuart O'Grady, 7 Marcos Serrano, 8. Axel Merckx, 9. Jose Enrique Gutierrez. 10th was Patrice Halgand and the peloton.

15:55 - 129 km/50 km to go
The situation on the descent of the Madeleine, is that Michael Boogerd has a 3'10 lead on a group with Laurent Jalabert, Miguel Martinez, Iban Mayo, Ludovic Turpin and Stuart O'Grady. Marcos Serrano and Axel Merckx are at 4'45, and the peloton is at 7'30.

16:07 - 137 km/42 km to go
Michael Boogerd is maintaining his lead on the descent of the Madeleine, which is very technical. He is trailed by 3'19 by a group of seven: Laurent Jalabert, Miguel Martinez, Iban Mayo, Ludovic Turpin, Stuart O'Grady and Axel Merckx, who has just bridged the gap.

The peloton is still at 8'20, and not getting much closer.

16:10 - 142 km/37 km to go
Boogerd takes another drink from his Rabobank team car, as he passes through the sprint at Bellecombe, with 37 km to go, including the 17.5 km climb of La Plagne.

O'Grady comes through in 2nd place to take 4 points (10 for the day - he needs another 50 to take the green jersey...). Martinez takes 2 points for third. The gap is still 3'16.

16:21 - 149 km/30 km to go
With 30 km to go, Michael Boogerd is still leading the race on his own by 3'36 to a group containing Laurent Jalabert, Miguel Martinez, Iban Mayo, Ludovic Turpin, Stuart O'Grady and Axel Merckx. Then Marcos Serrano at 4'40, Jose Enrique Gutierrez at 7'00, and the peloton at 7'23.

ONCE, ibanesto and US Postal are controlling the pace in the peloton before the final assault up La Plagne.

Alan asks for a definition of "false flat": It's a section of road that looks flat, but goes uphill slightly. It can be quite deceptive.

16:30 - 154 km/25 km to go
Michael Boogerd passes under the 25 km to go banner, with a 4'30 lead on the six man chasing group with Jalabert and O'Grady. The peloton is at 7'00, and is now preparing for the ascent of La Plagne, where there will surely be some fireworks. The peloton is still quite large - maybe 100 riders strong.

A note on "Neutralised descent": The start of each stage is usually held under neutralised conditions i.e. no racing is allowed to take place and it is not timed. Today's stage began with a 10.5 km descent, which was neutralised. Hence "Neutralised descent."

16:38 - 160 km/19 km to go
Boogerd will hit the final climb of La Plagne with a 7'00 lead or thereabouts. However, his six chasers are likely to be swallowed by the peloton, which is picking up momentum and is only 2'00 behind them. Question is: Can Boogerd pull off a remarkable solo win on La Plagne? He's looking good at the moment.

Note on Sevilla: Apparently he was sick, that's why he abandoned.

16:42 - 163 km/16 km to go
Michael Boogerd looks comfortable as he tackles the base of the climb to La Plagne, which finishes at 1970m. He has 16 km to go before he can claim victory in this stage. Remember that he's been away in a break since 29 km.

The peloton has just gone under 20 km to go, 7'12 behind Boogerd. The Jalabert group is at 5'03.

Jeff asks what speeds the riders tackle these Hors Categorie climbs. Allowing for changes in gradient, 20 km/h + is a good estimate for the top riders.

16:47 - 165 km/14 km to go
O'Grady has attacked the Jalabert group! He is really on a mission to try and get points today...

Miguel Martinez, who is getting better as the Tour and this stage goes on, tries to force the pace behind O'Grady, but the others are right with him. Jalabert looks as smooth as he always does, wearing the Maillot Pois of best climber and the red number for the Most Combative rider.

O'Grady is 5'25 behind Boogerd, who should win this stage. The peloton is still at 7'15.

16:51 - 166 km/13 km to go
Axel Merckx and Iban Mayo attacks the chasing group, leaving Jalabert, Martinez and Turpin behind. Mayo gets away from Merckx, and starts to close down on O'Grady. He catches and passes the Australian.

In the peloton, Baranowski (iBanesto) picks up the pace, but there are still 60 riders or so in the main pack. The yellow jersey of Lance Armstrong is prominent near the front, as are all the other favourites.

16:53 - 167 km/12 km to go
Carlos Sastre (CSC) attacks in the peloton, getting Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano on his wheel. He tries again, with more success. Botcharov, Vasseur, Robin, Moncoutie, Virenque, Baranowski, Frigo and Chavanel are all in difficulty at the back of the bunch.

Meanwhile in front, Michael Boogerd is leading the race with 7'07 on the peloton. Then Iban Mayo at 5'25 and Axel Merckx just behind him. O'Grady is somewhere up there...

Sastre catches Jalabert, who increases the tempo. They are teammates, after all.

16:56 - 168 km/11 km to go
Sastre leaves Jalabert and continues in pursuit of more time. He was 14th on the GC before today's stage, and should move up a few places. Rubiera is leading the peloton, with Armstrong, Rumsas, Beloki, Galdeano, Leipheimer all near the front.

Boogerd's gap to the peloton is 6'30. O'Grady and Martinez are caught by the peloton.

Igor Gonzalez is struggling, and is dropped by the peloton.

Carlos Sastre is now third on the road behind Boogerd and Mayo, having caught Merckx and Turpin. He trails Boogerd by 5'12, and leads the peloton by 1'00.

17:01 - 170 km/10 km to go
The peloton is now cut down to size, with around 15 riders in it including Armstrong, Rumsas, Leipheimer, Beloki, Rubiera, Heras, Azevedo, Mancebo, Botero, Goubert, Moncoutie.

Carlos Sastre is 30 seconds in front of them, but has just caught Iban Mayo. He is now second on the road behind Michael Boogerd who is hurting a lot now, but still has 5'16 on Sastre and 5'49 on the peloton.

17:05 - 171 km/9 km to go
Boogerd has 9 tough kilometres to go before he can win this stage. He is suffering, but still has a decent rhythm. He is being pursued by Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 4'57, then a 13 man peloton with most of the GC riders (not Galdeano) at 5'31.

17:08 - 172 km/8 km to go
Sastre goes under 10km to go 4'00 behind Boogerd - he's definitely closing the gap fast to the Dutchman. 40 seconds behind him is the peloton led by Jose Luis Rubiera (USPS). Armstrong, Rumsas, Leipheimer, Beloki, Basso, Heras, Azevedo, Mancebo, Osa, Botero and Moncoutie.

17:12 - 173 km/7 km to go
Boogerd has seven kilometres of uphill suffering to go. He is sweating profusely, grimacing in pain, but maintaining his rhythm. He is 3'54 in front of Carlos Sastre and 4'50 in front of the Armstrong group. He gets a sponge of cold water from a fan on the side of the road.

17:15 - 174 km/6 km to go
Sastre is maintaining his 1'00 lead to the Armstrong group, which if he can hold it, means he will move up on GC. Boogerd is 3'25 in front of Sastre, but the end is approaching.

The Maillot Jaune group is: Lance Armstrong, Roberto Heras Hernandez, Josť L.Rubiera Vigil (US Postal Service), Joseba Beloki, Josť Azevedo (ONCE-Eroski), Santiago Botero (Kelme-Costa Blanca)Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com), Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre Daikin). David Moncoutie has been dropped.

17:18 - 175 km/5 km to go
Mancebo is now in trouble in the Armstrong group, and the Banesto rider is battling to stay in contact. Chechu Rubiera is still leading the chase in the 10 man group.

Boogerd has 5 km to go, with a 2'46 lead on Sastre and 3'45 on Armstrong's group. This will be a close finish. Boogerd can afford to lose 30 seconds a kilometre.

Rubiera pulls off the front of the Maillot Jaune group, as Heras takes over, putting the hurt on everyone else. Armstrong is right on his wheel, followed by Rumsas, Beloki, Azevedo, Botero, Basso, Leipheimer. Mancebo is just off the back.

17:18 - 176 km/4 km to go
Sastre goes under 5 km to go with a 2'25 deficit on Boogerd, who is giving it everything to stay away. Boogerd is nearly 1 km in front.

Botero is in difficulty in the Armstrong group, and goes off the back.

17:24 - 177 km/3 km to go
Boogerd is doing a great job to hold off the Sastre charge, pedalling in a small gear as he goes under 3 km to go with 2'15 lead.

Heras finishes off in the Armstrong group, as his team leader attacks with just over 4 km to go. Armstrong quickly distances himself from the rest, who are fighting it out for second place on GC.

17:27 - 178 km/2 km to go
Beloki, Azevedo, Leipheimer, Heras, Rumsas, Basso and Botero are left in Armstrong's wake, as the Texan pedals away from them. Sastre is 30 seconds in front of Armstrong, but risks being swallowed up. He has 3 km to go, and is 2'05 behind Boogerd.

17:29 - 178 km/2 km to go
Sastre has 5 seconds to Armstrong, as Boogerd has less than 2 km left. Armstrong will catch Sastre for sure, but will he catch Boogerd? Doubtful...

17:30 - 179 km/1 km to go
Boogerd has 1 km to go, and leads Armstrong and Sastre by 1'50. He should do it. Fantastic riding.

Sastre glues himself to Armstrong's wheel. Behind them, the Beloki/Rumsas group is still together with six riders. Basso, Leipheimer, Azevedo, and Heras are also there.

17:33 - 180 km/0 km to go
Boogerd smiles and grimaces as he wins the stage. He checks behind him to make sure but he's go it. He slows down and really savours the moment.

Sastre leads Armstrong home for second place, 1'25 behind Boogerd. Then Beloki leads Rumsas home for fourth place at 2'02. Beloki keeps his second overall on GC, but loses another 37 seconds to Armstrong.

Results

1 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                    5.48.29
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Tiscali                      1.25
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service
4 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                      2.02
5 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                       2.10
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                       2.14
8 Josť Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski
9 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca             2.23
10 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service     2.25

General classification after stage 16

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service          68.43.22
2 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                      5.06
3 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                 7.24
4 Josť Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski                      12.08
5 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski         12.12
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com                12.28
7 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca            12.37
8 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service     12.54
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                      13.58
10 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                     15.04

Thank you for following our live coverage of Stage 16. Join us again for tomorrow's 17th stage from Aime to Cluses, which includes three Category 1 climbs, at 13:00 CEST/04:00 PDT/07:00 EDT/21:00 Aust EST.

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