93rd Tour de France - ProT
France, July 1-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 16 - Wednesday, July 19: Le Bourg-d'Oisans-La Toussuire, 182 km
Live Commentary by Shane Stokes and Jeff Jones, with additional reporting
from Anthony Tan, Hedwig Kröner and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 11:40 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST
Stage 16 could be the key to the
2006 Tour. The crucial lynchpin stage begins by immediately ascending the immense
Galibier, then descends over 60km to attack the Beyond Category Col de la Croix-de-Fer,
then the transition climb of Col du Mollard, and then down to St.Jean-de-Maurienne
to the final ascent of the new climb up to the ski station of La Toussuire.
It's not a steep grade at 6% but it is 18.4km long, which could lead to big
gaps at the finish. Look for Cunego to go on the attack again on the final ascent
if he's still in contention, as Landis and Phonak just need to mark their adversaries.
The riders are now in the neutralised
zone, but approaching the start of racing...
And they are off...race director
Christian Prudhomme waves the flag to start the day's racing. For now the field
is all together, nobody has decided to hare on off up the road. A tough two
weeks and yesterday's hard mountain stage will do that.
11:54 CEST 2km/180km to go
Race leader Floyd
Landis was looking relaxed during the neutralised section, having a laugh with
Michael Rasmussen. Rasmussen is from the rival Rabobank team but generally riders
can get along despite the different jerseys, even if one is ultimately trying
to make the other lose! Of course, different personalities may clash even if
they are wearing the same jersey, with great intra-team rivalries including
Hinault/Lemond in 1985-1986, Roche and Visentini in 1987 and Simoni/Cunego in
Once racing starts, though, riders
on rival teams have to be able to forget their friendships and click into 'kill
or be killed' mode.
The riders are now on the Galibier.. the first
climb of the day. Christophe Moreau (AG2R) is the first to attack, haring off
up the road and into the darkness of the first tunnel. Maybe he'll pull over
in there and hide, causing all sorts of chaos when the chasers try to work out
where he has gone.
That has actually happened in the
past...can't remember the rider, but someone attacked and then hid with the
goal of nipping onto the back of the bunch and enjoying the chaos. However he
misjudged the effect of his attack and had himself a very hard chase, trying
to latch back on to the peloton...
Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital)
and Jose Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval) nip across to Moreau.
12:00 CEST 7km/175km to go
They are caught by
the bunch. Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre), second
yesterday, are very aggressive. Several riders are already in trouble and going
out the back, including Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner).
12:02 CEST 9km/173km to go
is looking for KOM points today. He is quickly joined by a strong-looking Tadej
Valjavec (Lampre-Fondital) and the two draw clear.
12:04 CEST 10km/172km to go
They are flying along
now on a downhill section...one rider is trying to get across. It is David Arroyo
(Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears).
This is a very aggressive start
to the stage, something the weaker riders won't be thankful about.
12:07 CEST 11km/171km to go
The two leaders are
20 seconds clear. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) is chasing.
Eisel is caught but now his team-mate
Sandy Casar is on the attack. He finished 2nd in the 2002 Paris-Nice and 12th
there this year, so he is a gifted rider, but hasn't been going very well in
12:12 CEST 13km/169km to go
He is 99th overall,
Casar has joined the other two, making it three
up front. Rasmussen is driving hard now, conscious that he could pick up a lot
of points today.
12:14 CEST 15km/167km to go
Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel)
is chasing alone, while Rubiera, Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) and two others
are further back.
Ok, the chasers are: Rubiera (Discovery),
Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre), Mikel Astarloza
(AG2R) and Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne). They catch Verdugo,
so there are now three chasers.
The countryside is stunning here...huge
scree-covered mountains, dotted with trees wherever there is enough earth to
sustain vegetation, and cascading waterfalls. Nice.
12:19 CEST 19km/163km to go
The six chasers are
44 seconds back. Phonak are leading the bunch, but the pace looks steady rather
than hectic there.
No cascading cows, you will be glad
Rasmussen is doing pretty much all
the work...ah, Casar comes through now.
The bunch has stalled, and
are lined across the road. Ah, that's why...Landis dropped back. He was probably
doing his own impression of a waterfall. :)
12:25 CEST 20km/162km to go
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier
Duval) has attacked. That was polite..he waited for Landis to get back up to
the bunch, then went.
Further up the road, Laurent Lefčvre (Bouygues)
and Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) were chasing and joined up with the other six
who are still in pursuit of the leaders.
To recap: Tadej Valjavec (Lampre-Fondital),
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Sandy Casar (FDJ) are clear, with Rubiera (Discovery),
Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval), Commesso and Bruseghin (Lampre), Astarloza
(AG2R), Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne), Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi)and Lefčvre
(Bouygues) at 1'10. Simoni is on his own, somewhere in between that group and
the peloton. It is 2'15 back.
Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) went back
to the doctor for some attention but then rejoined the bunch.
is about 30 seconds behind the chasing group. Four more riders are chasing him
- Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), David Arroyo (Caisse
d'Epargne) and Ivan Parra (Cofidis)
12:32 CEST 26.5km/155.5km to go
They catch Simoni
- he'll be glad of some help. Phonak are determined not to let any other riders
go clear and are leading the bunch.
The leaders are now just 1 km
from the first sprint.
Rasmussen leads as they approach
the intermediate sprint... He has been driving this most of the way.
Valjavec rolls through and is first across the prime line, ahead of Casar and
This morning, the first five riders
in the KOM classification were:
1 David De La Fuente (Spa) Saunier
Duval 108 pts
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 74
3 Michael Rasmussen
(Den) Rabobank 73
4 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 63
5 Cyril Dessel (Fra)
Rasmussen is 35 points down so he needs to score
well if he is to win the KOM classification for a second time.
There is 20 points up for grabs on
a HC climb. Today offers two HC climbs, one cat 2 and one cat 1 (which comes
with double points as it is the last of the day). So it's certainly possible
to get a lot of points on this stage.
12:43 CEST 30km/152km to go
David Moncoutié (Cofidis)
attacked a couple of kilometres ago and is chasing alone, behind the other groups.
Landis only has four team-mates left with him at the front...others may be further
back. This early action will suit his rivals as it will tire out his team-mates
and make him more vulnerable to attack later.
The two chasing groups have merged
Alexandre Moos (Phonak) is off the back of the peloton. Looks
like he is under pressure, rather than on bottle duty.
the big chase group now. They are 1'55 back with a chaser, Calzati (AG2R) 2'30
12:48 CEST 30.5km/151.5km to go
a bottle from the motorbike, holding on for a couple of seconds and then pushing
hard off it. This helps him to close the gap - he's about to latch on now.
He does it.
Casar is riding well here, leading
Rasmussen and Valjavec. The Lampre rider doesn't seem do be doing any of the
The fourteen chasers are:
(Discovery), Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Astarloza, Calzati (AG2R), Bruseghin, Commesso
(Lampre-Fondital), Arroyo, Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne), Verdugo (Euskaltel),
Parra (Cofidis), Simoni, Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) and Lefčvre (Bouygues).
They are 2'17 down, with the peloton
exactly a minute further back.
The chasers are riding very hard
to try to get across.
12:57 CEST 34km/148km to go
Phonak are continuing
to lead the bunch. The sky is completely blue, looks like a hot day in the Alps..
Water bottles are cascading out of the bunch so we guess the fluid intake is
going to be very high today.
Landis is now third in line...just
three team-mates left up at the front of the peloton with him. One is riding
on his wheel, presumably to stop riders a) running into his back wheel, or b)
nicking some food out of his pockets in an attempt to cause hunger knock.
We reckon it is b) : )
Cyclingnews spoke with Phonak manager
John Lelangue this morning, and he told us the team's tactics for today: "If
there are guys in the breakaway who are at 40 minutes on GC, we are not going
to chase. We only have to look at the five riders who are within three minutes."
Race leader Floyd Landis told us, "I'm feeling good. A little tired, but everybody
is. The plan is essentially like yesterday. To let a breakaway go, control the
race, catch it again on the last climb. There'll surely be plenty of attacks.
Everyone tries to win a stage in the Tour."
The leaders are now just under 8
km from the top of the climb.
Maxim Iglinskiy (Milram) has retired.
Referring to the comments earlier
re riders hiding after attacking the bunch, Jean-Marie Machiels from Sint-Truiden
in Belgium writes with this:
"Roger de Vlaeminck tells a classic
cycling joke: "One time, during a Tour de Lombardie' we hid behind a railway
verge. We had someone tell Merckx we escaped. So, he chased us like mad, while
we were at the back of the bunch. He went so fast, we nearly got dropped.
When we got back on, we came up to him saying: "Hey man, are you nuts? Is there
a fire?" Merckx was a very serious guy. He was not amused!"
down in "43 wielerverhalen van Tim Krabbé – 1988)
13:08 CEST 39.5km/142.5km to go
The chasers are
being led by Gomez Marchante. They are 2'00 back, with the Phonak-led peloton
Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) is up for
another big ride today, or so he hopes. "We will see that later on, won't we?"
he told Cyclingnews. "I'll see how the legs are during the race. If they
feel like yesterday, then I'll be on the attack again. The stage is hard enough
on its own. It'll be selective and then we'll see on the last climb."
Teammate Michael Rogers said, "Of course I'm going to defend my GC, but the
first objective is to help Klöden. Our goal is to put him on the podium in Paris.
Today's course is so hard that there's going to be a natural selection. But
all will be decided on the last climb."
Phonak are still on the front now.
Pena did a big turn, then sat up/blew up and went back into the shelter of the
The gap is now 2'05 and 4'20.
Looking for an anchor point earlier,
we secured the Hindenburg V-1 to a small herd of animals. However the breeze
carried the us away, so we now have the embarrassing situation that five very
bemused cows are dangling from the blimp.
As a result, there are
now several hundred confused spectators on the mountainside plus one very angry
farmer. He doesn't find it amooosing, to say the least.
Casar drives the pace as they head
towards the top. Rasmussen gets some food and drink from his team car, while
all three get hollers of support from the road.
Further back, Rubiera
and Popovych are on the front of the chase group. Sinkewitz is also up there.
Parra then thunders to the front, trying to inject some speed.
13:20 CEST 44km/138km to go
Of the chasers, Popovych
is best placed overall. He is 13th at 7'36.
The three are on a very
exposed section of the climb, where the road loops around to the right. The
scenery really is spectacular.
The chasers are 2'32 back while the
peloton is at 4'35. Gomez Marchante drives it now, with Simoni dropping back
after a turn. He's now sitting second last in the group, out of the saddle.
Cunego and a team-mate have attacked.
Phonak have chased, and the peloton is fragmenting now, scattered back down
the mountain. Meanwhile Rasmussen has gone clear towards the top in order to
nab the 20 points.
Casar goes after him but doesn't have it, taking
second at the line. Valjavec is third.
Leipheimer is now leading the bunch,
with Landis back in about 20th place.
Vila and his Lampre team-mate
Cunego are riding very hard, putting the pressure on the Phonak team and thus
disrupting any later chase.
Anthony Charteau (Credit Agricole)
attacks the bunch and gets a gap, due in part to Michael Boogerd slowing things
down behind. He will be keen to do whatever he can to help Rasmussen stay clear.
Astarloza is next over the top, 3'00 down. The rest of the chase group are there
The peloton go over the top, approximately
4'40 down. It really is broken up now.
13:33 CEST 46km/136km to go
Up front, Casar leads
down this fast descent.
Crash! Back in the bunch, some riders go
down on a bend. Amongst the fallers is Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto) and
Landis' team-mate Miguel Angel Perdiguero. One rider moves wide to avoid them
and comes within a few inches of heading down a steep incline. He stays upright
and on the road, though. It looks like Brandt and Perdiguero should be okay
This descent is very long; approximately
13:35 CEST 56km/126km to go
Popovych has gone
clear of the chase group, pulling ahead on the descent...
We got an email from Bob Steele in
As you view the ascent of the Galibier you may notice
on the road a few bends from the summit FIREFLIES in large yellow letters. Five
years ago a group of five riders from the UK rode the Alps for the hell of it
and to raise money for a UK based Leukaemia Charity. They arrived at the Col
de Turini in the Maritime Alps late in the evening and had to descend in the
pitch black only to find as they came down to the tree line a host of fireflies
hovered above the road soaking up the remains of the heat of the day; the fireflies
literally lead them down the road to safety.
This year 50 people
who ride their bikes for fun rode la Route des Grande Alpes from Lake Geneva
to Cannes for Leuka a charity based in London and our goal is to raise 150,000
pounds. The moto of the Fireflies is, "For those who suffer we ride"
Incidentally le Patron gave the Fireflies on of his yellow jerseys to auction
on ebay last year and has been very supportive. One of our number, Jake Scott
of RSA films in LA, directed Lance in some of his Nike commercials last year.
Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) hopes
he can do more today to help Cadel Evans. "Yesterday it wasn't 100 percent,
but finally I got something back," he told us. "I had antibiotics that must
have killed whatever was in my body. It wasn't normal, it was hard to get anywhere
on the bike. It wasn't bad form, it was no form. But I hope I can be there for
Cadel too today, just like yesterday."
Sprinter Bernhard Eisel (FDJ)
wasn't looking forward to this stage. "Today we are back into the hurt box.
But there's no way I'm going to be in the break again. Today, the big guns will
13:43 CEST 63km/119km to go
Landis is fourth
in line as the bunch descends. As mentioned, this descent is very fast..not
much pedaling going on.
Popovych is all alone now, riding hard.
He is approximately 2'30 behind the three leaders and 40 seconds ahead of the
big chase group. The bunch are 4'55 behind Rasmussen, Casar and Valjavec.
Landis is near the front...there
were no Phonak riders there for a while, but Hunter and Merckx have just arrived
back at the front.
13:47 CEST 65km/117km to go
Some readers have
been asking how riders such as Rujano, Cadel Evans and Michael Rogers have been
doing today. They haven't been prominent thus far, but that doesn't mean they
are under pressure. They may have decided to remain in the middle of the bunch
and bide their time for later.
Rasmussen has certainly timed his
form well. Back in June, he went for a stage win in the Tour de Suisse but blew
up dramatically near the end and lost out. He was very annoyed/unhappy that
day, given that it wasn't a good sign for his KOM hopes in the Tour, but seems
to be in good form again. Of course the overall hasn't worked out as well for
him this year as in 2005, but we think he'd be happy to take another maillot
An update of the situation: Popovych
is not making up any ground...he is 3'00 down while the other chasers are 16
seconds further back. The peloton are 5'42 behind the leading trio.
The leaders covered 34 km in the
second hour of racing.
Floyd Landis and Oscar Pereiro were
chatting a couple of minutes ago. The latter rode well on l'Alpe d'Huez yesterday
but fell just short of defending yellow.
At the back of the peloton,
Jimmy Casper is. (Yoda speak)
Casar leads on this descent, with
Rasmussen sitting a little back off him and Valjavec.
Popovych is still chasing alone,
but is now 3'50 back. The rest of the chase group is at 4'05 while the Landis
group is at 5'52.
Jose Rujano, who has been dropped,
wasn't feeling the best when we spoke to him today. "My foot is better, but
now I have a sore throat. I'll see how I go during the stage. I certainly like
the final climb."
Ouch...Sylvain Chavanel crashed hard
on the descent. It looked for a moment like he hit the barrier face-first, judging
by where he was lying, but he's up now. He's back on his bike...that's good.
Chavanel is going very slowly on
this descent..some photographers have pulled up alongside, he's shaking his
head. He is continuing for now.
Popovych, meanwhile, is back in
the chase group.
The crash brought back memories of
the tragedy which befell Fabio Casartelli eleven years ago. But fortunately
Chavanel seems to be okay, and didn't hit the barrier too hard. He's still riding,
taking it very gingerly down the descent.
The chase group is 3'50
back with the peloton almost 7'00 down.
Chavanel started today 17th
overall, 9'56 back. So that's hard for him. He's been seen to by the race doctor
- looks like his right shoulder is a bit sore. Walter Beneteau (Bouygues) rides
alongside him and asks if he is okay.
14:20 CEST 90km/92km to go
Rasmussen is digging
deep on this flat section, trying to maintain their gap. They have a healthy
lead now; can he do what he did last year on stage 9 and take a full whack of
points plus the stage win?
The chasers are 4'45 back but don't
seem to be riding well...there's gaps there between them, after some jumping
around. The peloton are 6'51 back...this is bizarre...3 Phonak riders are clear
with two Gerolsteiners and Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom). The Phonak riders
are looking back for the bunch, seeking to lead the chase, but there is a big
gap. The Phonak riders are not happy. Looks like someone let the wheel go and
then there was a stall in the bunch. Weird.
Landis is back up there now. The
riders passed through a feed zone a little while ago so maybe that is the reason
for the stall. The Phonak team are leading the bunch now and the speed is on
Denis Menchov comes back to the bunch after either a stop
or a chat with the team car.
Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner and Oscar
Pereiro are amongst those near the front of the peloton. They each look relaxed.
Henry Edwardes Evans has been in
touch with the following:
"Is it me, or are the crowds down this
year? Any idea why? Anything to do with the reduction in riders turning up with
a full service history?
My spin is this – we’ve got to relish this
survival grind for what I hope it is – a proper race. Digging at Landis for
being conservative is well out of line (re the Guardian today) – the guy is
riding a very clever race. The papers demand the sport cleans itself up one
day, and the next bemoan the lack of Pantani-style breakaways."
The crowds have seemed smaller this
year at times, although one reason is that the mountain stages have been during
weekdays. It seems to be a deliberate attempt to control the numbers of fans.
On the one hand stages like Alpe d'Huez can be dangerous when there are too
many spectators there, but on other, safer mountains, it is certainly nice to
see large crowds. The news of Operacion Puerto probably played a part, too.
14:37 CEST 100km/82km to go
Things look civilised
in the peloton now. The calm before the storm, we reckon, because this race
is going to go nuts on the next climbs.
The three leaders are now
on the hors categorie Col de la Croix-de-Fer, which tops out approximately 56
kilometres from the line. They are now a very considerable 5'37 ahead of the
chase group and 7'16 ahead of the bunch. Rasmussen must be looking good for
the KOM jersey now.
Valjavec took the sprint in Saint Etienne des
Cuines (103 km). Casar and Rasmussen didn't contest it and took second and third.
14:39 CEST 101km/81km to go
The chase group is
still working but they haven't been able to make any significant impression.
Other than the impression that they are going slower.
Back in the
bunch, Landis is sitting about tenth. Lang (Gerolsteiner) is leading the chase,
then Victor Hugo Pena takes over for Phonak.
14:45 CEST 106km/76km to go
Rasmussen is leading
as they head up the Croix de Fer. He's tucked his helmet straps up inside his
helmet...not much use if you fall off.
Nicolas Jalabert and Koos
Moerenhout (Phonak) lead the chase. Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) has attacked.
Up front, Casar looked to be in a bit of difficulty on the climb, drifting off
David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Steven
de Jongh (Quick.Step) have abandoned.
Casar is swinging. Behind,
the chase group has split. Calzati and Popovych have attacked.
14:49 CEST 108km/74km to go
Casar is, to use
a tried and trusty word, goooooooone..
Popovych has been caught
by the rest of the chasers. Not sure about Calzati yet.
Five riders are clear of the chasing
group: Calzati, Simoni, Sinkewitz, Commesso and Arroyo.
now second in line, with only one other rider from the Phonak team close by.
His team appear to have been isolated today, but so far the other big contenders
haven't tried anything.
Some of the other riders from the chase
group (including Popovych) have been caught.
14:56 CEST 110.8km/71.2km to go
Rasmussen on the climb, grimacing quite a bit. Rasmussen's upper body is swaying
but otherwise he looks composed.
Popovych is now at the back of
the bunch..he might pay for his efforts towards the end.
Some other riders have come up to
the Simoni group, so there are eight chasers together.
them, Astarloza (AG2R) has gone clear.
Valjavec is also gooooooooone.
So Rasmussen is alone in front, riding very well.
Ivan Parra, another of those who
was clear from early on, is caught by the bunch. Landis is still in second place
and looks very relaxed. Moerenhout leads, then the maillot jaune, then
15:04 CEST 113km/69km to go
Rasmussen is now
25" ahead of Valjavec, with the remainder of the chase group 6'40 back and the
peloton 7'09 down. The chase group should get caught soon.
Simoni waves to the camera as he too is caught by the bunch. The Italian is
Shiney Boy (TM), having dosed himself with water from head to cleated shoe.
It's warm out there today, to say the least...
Casar is still there, in no-man's
land.. Meanwhile Simoni is being dropped now, as is Parra.
stalked followed by Moreau and Evans.
He is caught but CSC now puts the
pressure on. Yesterday's winner Schleck leads from Sastre and Vandevelde, with
Landis on their wheel. Evans, Leipheimer and Klöden are also up there.
Vandevelde is in a TT tuck going up this climb, hands holding onto ye olde trusty
15:10 CEST 116.5km/65.5km to go
That was on a
flatter section...he's back on the hoods now. There is no sign of Phonak riders
for Landis, but he looks strong enough to follow the wheels at this point.
15:12 CEST 117km/65km to go
to force the pace on the Croix de Fer, putting Valjavec at 1'25 and Casar at
2'09. The peloton is at 7'00, driven by Vandevelde and CSC. They will catch
the lone Astarloza soon.
Sinkewitz is dropped.
Rubiera and Hincapie are dropped
from the bunch next. The pace has shattered the peloton.
15:16 CEST 118km/64km to go
Astarloza is caught
by the bunch, which is slimming down. Rasmussen is looking good for the stage
Moreau and Merckx are sitting last two wheels in the bunch,
with Zabriskie. They are getting tailed off slowly.
15:18 CEST 119km/63km to go
Leipheimer gets a
bit of a gap, but he'll need quite a lot if he's to stay ahead of the bunch
on the descent of the Croix de Fer. The American has had his teammates riding
on the lower slopes to try to pull the gap back, but now it's time to go.
"I'm going to look out for the break, but I think maybe halfway through the
stage will be the moment to go," said Leipheimer to us, who has been true to
his word! "I've done this stage already in the Dauphiné, and that's where it
worked. Yesterday, Floyd and Klöden were just one level above where I am now,
so I'll take it day by day."
15:20 CEST 119km/63km to go
The peloton is down
to about 20 riders, with Schleck and Sastre leading Landis. Klöden, Azevedo,
Dessel, Moreau, Evans, Horner, Pereiro are all there.
leads the stage by 1'20 over Valjavec, with Casar falling back to 3'02, then
Leipheimer at 6'10. Calzati has been caught, it looks like. The peloton is at
Rasmussen has fixed his helmet straps.
15:22 CEST 120km/62km to go
solid as he carries out his cunning plan. He sits in 9th on GC at 6'18, so he's
not a direct threat to Landis yet. He has 30 seconds on the bunch as he gets
towards the summit of the Croix de Fer.
Dessel gets to the front
of the bunch with Fothen on his wheel. Michael Boogerd is also there.
Rasmussen continues to focus on getting
to the summit, which is still 6 km away. Look out for falling cows!
The group maillot jaune is now led by Schleck and it looks like Dessel, with
Landis sitting in 10th wheel looking comfy. Everything's going to plan for the
Astarloza makes his way back to the
rear of the group maillot jaune. Not sure where Moreau is though. AG2R is probably
pinning its hopes on Dessel.
Rasmussen has 5 km of climbing to the
top of the Croix de Fer.
Leipheimer has a minute on the bunch, but
that isn't going to move him up many places on GC yet.
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) is in
the maillot jaune group, and he told us today, "I'm feeling tired. Yesterday
was also a very hard stage. I had a bad day with fever. Today I'm feeling better.
I've been able to sleep well. I still want to make up a few places on GC and
try to win a stage. I'm more than six minutes down, and Phonak will control
the stage, so they might let me go. Maybe I can do something."
15:31 CEST 123km/59km to go
Leipheimer now has
two minutes on the maillot jaune group, which is lagging 7'38 behind the lone
leader Rasmussen. Calzati is leading it, setting tempo for Dessel. Boogerd sits
second wheel as a 'policeman' for Rasmussen, then Rogers, Schleck, Fothen, Dessel...
Zabriskie is on the back too, as they pass some brown cows.
Rasmussen is now 3'25 ahead of Valjavec,
4'20 ahead of Casar, and 5'36 ahead of Leipheimer.
The maillot jaune
group: Floyd Landis, Axel Merckx (Phonak), José Azevedo (Discovery Channel),
Carlos Sastre, Frank Schleck , Christian Vandevelde (Team CSC), Andreas Klöden,
Giuseppe Guerini, Matthias Kessler, Eddy Mazzoleni, Michael Rogers (T-Mobile),
Christophe Moreau, Mikel Astarloza , Sylvain Calzati , Cyril Dessel , Stephane
Goubert (AG2R-Prevoyance), Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner), Denis Menchov, Michael
Boogerd (Rabobank), Cadel Evans, Christopher Horner (Davitamon-Lotto), Damiano
Cunego (Lampre-Fondital), David Arroyo, Vladimir Karpets , Oscar Pereiro , Xabier
Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears), Pietro Caucchioli (Crédit Agricole),
Iker Camańo , Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi).
15:36 CEST 124km/58km to go
Rasmussen is chased
by fans as he get closer to the top, but there are still a few km to travel.
Meanwhile, Moncoutié has ridden away from the bunch, which is shedding Astarloza
15:38 CEST 125km/57km to go
very solid as he follows 5'30 behind Rasmussen. But the maillot jaune is now
8'10 back! Rasmussen will surely win the stage, even from this far out.
Leipheimer catches Casar, and goes
past the Frenchman, who holds on for a bit.
15:41 CEST 125km/57km to go
Rasmussen rides up
the final kilometre of the Croix de Fer, leading Valjavec by 4'05 and Leipheimer
and Casar by 5'26.
Jens Voigt (who is not anywhere near the front
now), spoke to Cyclingnews at the start today. "I'll try to be with
the boys as long as possible, but my hip hurts where I received some stitches
[after a crash yesterday]. My shoulder just has some skin off but it's not so
good that the fans hit me on the shoulder, yelling 'how's it going Jens?'. I'll
see how my hip goes. It certainly hurts, but it's not so bad."
15:43 CEST 126km/56km to go
Rasmussen takes the
points at the summit of the Croix de Fer, and with it the mountains jersey,
the maillot a pois. Valjavec should hang on for second, but we'll wait
for the Slovenian.
15:46 CEST 129km/53km to go
Rasmussen is now
on the steep descent of the Croix de Fer. The top part is particularly steep.
He hammers it into a hairpin, then slams on the brakes and gets around it ok.
15:48 CEST 132km/50km to go
to the summit of the Croix de Fer, looking rock solid. He will take third place
on the climb at 5'31, with Casar on his wheel in fourth. Moncoutié looks good
to take fifth.
Michael Boogerd is on the front of
the bunch with Calzati. The Dutchman is making sure that the pace isn't too
face, to give Rasmussen the best chance of victory. Menchov is right up there.
Moncoutié does take fifth at 7'50
behind Rasmussen. Then Calzati leads Boogerd over for sixth at 8'24. Then Zandio
and Menchov for eighth and ninth.
Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) wasn't
feeling great today. "I had to throw up yesterday during the stage. I was able
to rest and it was OK during the night, but I just feel bad and without any
energy." He's definitely not in the group maillot jaune.
15:53 CEST 135km/47km to go
Race leader Landis
has been keeping a low profile of late, probably hoping that Merckx gets back
to the group.
Rasmussen rides past some horses on the descent.
The bunch sweeps through another
hairpin, and Landis does indeed have Merckx on his wheel. One teammate is always
handy to have before the final climb.
Leipheimer is descending behind
Casar through the rougher section of the Croix de Fer. They're both taking it
15:58 CEST 141km/41km to go
Rasmussen looks good
as he rides past a small dam, over a bridge and onto a flatter section of this
descent. He is now going uphill again, with the 6 km Col du Mollard, average
In the peloton, Boogerd has Menchov and Moreau on his wheel
on the descent.
16:00 CEST 141km/41km to go
A couple of Caisse
d'Epargne riders get a gap over the bunch, with Mazzoleni also there.
Valjavec is 5'00 behind the leader, with Leipheimer/Casar another 30 seconds
back, and the bunch at 8'30.
16:01 CEST 142km/40km to go
Rasmussen gets into
his rhythm on the Mollard, looking pretty relaxed. Leipheimer and Casar are
now on the climb, trying to close to Valjavec.
The Caisse d'Epargne chasers (one
of them was Pereiro) are captured by the rest of the group maillot jaune.
16:07 CEST 144km/38km to go
Casar and catches Valjavec on the Mollard. He doesn't even look across as he
passes the Slovenian, who takes his wheel.
16:09 CEST 145km/37km to go
Pereiro asks his
Caisse d'Epargne teammate to ride harder on the front of the bunch. That puts
Vandevelde and Moncoutié out the back. Landis sits towards the rear of the bunch,
which is still 20-30 strong. There are a lot of T-Mobile riders here too: Kessler,
Guerini, Klöden and Rogers. They are 7'21 behind Rasmussen.
Calzati sits last wheel in the bunch,
struggling to hold on on the Col du Mollard. Horner is just ahead of him, looking
OK. Arroyo is riding solidly on the front.
16:12 CEST 146km/36km to go
Rasmussen is 1 km
from the top of the Mollard, and struggling a bit, but he has a good sized lead.
What can Leipheimer do with Valjavec? They are still 5'10 back, with the maillot
jaune now at 6'56.
T-Mobile has five riders in the maillot
jaune group, which is led by the two Caisse d'Epargnes. The tempo will be higher
from now on. But enough to get Rasmussen? Only if he blows up.
Rasmussen takes more points at the
summit, and secures his lead in the mountains competition. His two pursuers
are at 5'00, with Casar another minute back, and the peloton at another minute.
16:18 CEST 148km/34km to go
Rasmussen is now
on the final descent of the day, direction La Toussuire. He nearly overcooks
it on a corner, but rights himself and is back on the road. That was close...
16:19 CEST 151km/31km to go
The peloton gets
to 1 km from the top of the Mollard, led by Zandio all the time. Pereiro is
right on his wheel, then five T-Mobiles.
Leipheimer is second over
the top at 4'42, ahead of Valjavec. Then Casar might be able to survive the
charge of the peloton. Or he might not.
16:22 CEST 153km/29km to go
As the bunch nears
the top of the climb, Merckx tows Landis up to the front. Casar is fourth over
at 7'00. Zandio is next at 7'20, leading the bunch.
16:24 CEST 156km/26km to go
Rasmussen takes another
tight corner on this steep, narrow descent.
Casar is almost caught
by the bunch. Just three riders ahead of the maillot jaune now.
16:26 CEST 157km/25km to go
Valjavec is descending
ahead of Leipheimer, who definitely knows this, having done it in the Dauphine.
In the group maillot jaune, Landis is tucked into third wheel. There are still
a good 25 riders in this group.
16:30 CEST 159km/23km to go
towards the final climb, which is 18 km long at 6%. He has a good 4'40 on Leipheimer
and Valjavec, with the American definitely taking a lot of care on the descent.
The peloton has swept up Casar and follows at 7'20.
16:31 CEST 160km/22km to go
have a team car with him, as Fothen is still in the groupe maillot jaune. But
presumably it will come up to him on the last climb, one would think. He goes
under 25 km to go, losing some time on Valjavec.
16:33 CEST 162km/20km to go
Rasmussen is now
at 20 km to go, powering along on a straighter part of the descent. He gets
some instructions from the Rabobank team car.
Leipheimer snakes around
more hairpins, keeping upright without losing too much time, which is the main
object of the exercise.
Matze Kessler is descending well off the
back of the bunch. He has crashed far too many times in this Tour.
16:34 CEST 164km/18km to go
Rasmussen gulps from
his bidon again as he nears the foot of La Toussuire. Here we go!!
16:35 CEST 165km/17km to go
Valjavec and Leipheimer
are together again, 4'49 behind the lone Dane. But things can change on the
Rasmussen rides over a 'Le Tour d'Amour'
painted on the road, and he gets into his climbing rhythm.
16:37 CEST 165.5km/16.5km to go
Zandio and Pereiro
lead the bunch down, with Merckx and Landis in third and fourth, then four T-Mobiles:
Mazzoleni, Rogers, Klöden, Guerini (Kessler is still off the back). The group
is 6'50 behind Rasmussen, and 2'20 behind Leipheimer/Valjavec.
16:38 CEST 166km/16km to go
Landis should be
perfectly happy with how this stage has gone so far. Leipheimer is not really
a threat to him with just 2'20 lead. But the last climb is gonna hurt everyone.
Pereiro is obviously hoping to take the yellow back.
Now Leipheimer and Valjavec are on
the climb, with the American leading. Rasmussen is not going as well as he was,
looking a bit ragged. Still a lot of climbing to come before he can celebrate.
The maillot jaune group is now on
the last climb, and Moreau and Goubert are dropped immediately. And then Casar
16:42 CEST 167km/15km to go
Leipheimer and Valjavec
are now 4'10 behind Rasmussen, as Merckx gets to the front of the bunch to keep
the tempo up. Boogerd is up there, slowing things. Landis sits just behind the
T-Mobiles, and Kessler has found his way back.
LAndis has Klöden's wheel in the
bunch, while Dessel is a bit further back.
Leipheimer has now dropped
Valjavec, as he goes in search of Rasmussen.
16:45 CEST 167km/15km to go
And the Gerolsteiner
team car is right there behind Leipheimer... Rasmussen goes under 15 km to go..
Dessel sits next to Cunego in the bunch, where we'll see some fireworks soon.
16:46 CEST 167.5km/14.5km to go
has one goal: close the four minute gap to Michael Rasmussen. It isn't going
to be easy.
Merckx, Schleck and Boogerd lead the bunch, which is
still at least 20 riders strong. Sastre is up there behind Schleck. Kessler
pulls off and packs for the day. He'll be back tomorrow.
Schleck, yesterday's stage winner,
is now working as domestique for Sastre.
Iker Camańo goes out the
back, and Merckx and Fothen are also in trouble. Evans is sitting next to Klöden,
Landis and Caucchioli.
16:49 CEST 168km/14km to go
Patxi Vila is the
next to go O.T.B. as the bunch thins to about 15 riders.
lifts the tempo, but gets Boogerd and Landis on his wheel. Probably working
Schleck is dropped. Sastre looks to be in trouble too.
16:50 CEST 169km/13km to go
Guerini goes out
the back next. In front of the maillot jaune group, it's his teammate Rogers
leading Landis, Pereiro, Klöden, Evans, Dessel... at 6'10.
is now 3'57 behind Rasmussen, Valjavec is at 4'20.
Menchov is joined by Pereiro and
most of the bunch, but not Landis. It's Menchov, Rogers, Pereiro, then Evans
leading Azevedo up to them.
16:52 CEST 170km/12km to go
Rogers and Evans are ahead of the maillot jaune. Then Azevedo is chasing alone,
but he's just been caught by Klöden, Mazzoleni and Landis.
16:53 CEST 170km/12km to go
Menchov listens to
his radio and slows the pace. Pereiro looks back as Mazzoleni leads Klöden and
Landis back up to those four. T-Mobile chasing T-Mobile. Good to see.
16:55 CEST 170.5km/11.5km to go
Rogers now sets
tempo for the group, with Menchov and Evans on his wheel. Then Klöden, Mazzoleni
and Pereiro ahead of Landis.
Although Klöden wasn't with that attack
by Menchov, it was crazy for T-Mobile to lead the chase. Argh.
16:56 CEST 171km/11km to go
Further back in the
group, we have Caucchioli, Dessel, Sastre, Moreau, Zubeldia, Azevedo and Cunego.
Mazzoleni takes over the tempo making.
Meanwhile, at the front of
the race, it's Rasmussen leading Leipheimer by 3'45, then Valjavec at 4'15.
The group is at 5'42.
Now Sastre attacks the bunch. Trying
to keep the pressure on Landis. Mazzoleni doesn't react.
Landis and Azevedo are riding together
behind the bunch. Could Pereiro reclaim the jersey today? Who knows?
17:00 CEST 171.5km/10.5km to go
Sastre has a
small gap over the rest of the GC group, which now doesn't contain the maillot
Now Menchov hammers past Mazzoleni with Klöden on his wheel.
Landis doesn't look good. But he's trying to hold it together.
Valjavec is caught by the GC group,
which is being led by Mazzoleni.
Menchov's attack went nowhere, and
T-Mobile resumes the tempo making. Mazzoleni, Rogers, Klöden, Pereiro, Dessel,
Menchov, Evans are all there.
Leipheimer is at 4'00 behind, being
caught by Sastre soon.
Landis is six minutes back, and a good minute
behind the GC group.
Landis has found the yellow jersey
too heavy today. He's alone, riding at a "I'm blown" tempo.
is flying up towards Leipheimer, who is 3'35 behind leader Rasmussen. The CSC
rider is 40 seconds behind Leipheimer. Then the group Klöden/Dessel at 4'54,
and Landis at 6'00.
17:05 CEST 174km/8km to go
Landis looks like
losing all chances in the Tour today.
The group chasing Rasmussen,
Leipheimer and Sastre consists of Mazzoleni, Rogers, Klöden, Pereiro, Dessel,
Evans, Caucchioli, Menchov, Cunego and Moreau.
17:06 CEST 175km/7km to go
Pereiro is sitting
in the boxed seat now. He started the day just 10 seconds behind Landis, and
is now in the virtual yellow jersey. Landis is already 7'00 behind Rasmussen,
and 2'30 behind the group.
17:08 CEST 181.4km/0.6km to go
Sastre is now
with Leipheimer, and the pair are 3'30 behind leader Rasmussen as they motor
up this climb, which isn't too steep here.
Sastre is fifth on GC
at 2'17, so he could be getting up to the podium today.
17:10 CEST 177km/5km to go
Rasmussen fights for
every second, still keeping 3'30 over the two chasers, where Sastre is doing
the work. The GC group is at 4'00, now led by Rogers. Cunego is not with that
Landis is passed by Karpets and Vila, going backwards. He
looks bad today, as bad as a David Hasselhoff music video. He's eight minutes
Rogers is dropped from the group, as Sastre drops Leipheimer.
3'24 between first and second on the road.
Can Rasmussen hold off Sastre? It
will be close. The CSC rider can definitely climb, as he now hits a steeper
bit of the climb. 3'20, then Leipheimer, then the GC group at 3'50. Mazzoleni
now sets tempo for Klöden. Menchov hangs tough with Pereiro, Dessel, Evans,
Caucchioli, Moreau. And that's it.
17:14 CEST 178km/4km to go
Rogers has glued himself
back onto the group for a bit, but now it gets harder. Mazzoleni is riding for
Klöden, their main GC guy.
Rasmussen is within 4 km of the summit.
Sastre is at 3'00 and closing, but it might not be quick enough.
17:14 CEST 179km/3km to go
Now Menchov lifts
the pace with Klöden on his wheel. Pereiro, Evans, Dessel hang on. Mazzoleni
and Rogers are gone, but somehow Moreau is still there.
Leipheimer is caught by the group.
His effort in vain today. Moreau grabs a can of coke and downs it.
Klöden attacks and Pereiro follows with Evans. Dessel just off the back. Menchov
and Leipheimer are dropped.
17:17 CEST 179km/3km to go
Dessel looks back,
and gets caught by Menchov and Leipheimer. Caucchioli and Moreau are also there.
Evans, Klöden and Pereiro get to 4 km to go, with Klöden doing all the work.
Pereiro is still going to be in yellow.
Rasmussen is now at 3km to
go. Sastre is now suffering.
Pereiro now drives with Klöden and
Evans. Dessel, Moreau, Caucchioli and Leipheimer have dropped Menchov.
17:19 CEST 180km/2km to go
Sastre is at 2'31,
then Pereiro's group at 3'09, then Dessel's group at 3'34. That group has just
Rasmussen has 2 km to go. The stage win will be
his, and a very deserved one it will be.
Rasmussen gets towards the top of
this climb, which is not quite the finish. He's made a big effort for the mountains
jersey today, and it will pay off.
Evans, Klöden and Pereiro are
still together, while Landis is reported at 9'30.
17:21 CEST 181km/1km to go
Sastre is at 2'27
and holding, then Pereiro, Evans and Klodi at 3'00, with Dessel, Moreau and
Caucchioli at 3'30.
Rasmussen reaches one km to go. This will be
another fantastic stage win.
17:23 CEST 181.5km/0.5km to go
win the second Alpine stage and Pereiro will take the jersey. But it's not a
final decision here, not by any means. There's still another day in the mountains...
17:24 CEST 182km/0km to go
Rasmussen rides up
to the finish line after a fantastic solo. He's been away since km 6 and has
taken all the honours today. Great win by the Danish climber!!!! He's very emotional
at the finish, but that's not surprising.
Sastre takes second, about 1'40 behind.
Then Pereiro wins the sprint for third at 1'55, with Evans and Klöden next in
line. Pereiro new maillot jaune.
Then the trusty Labrador, Christophe
Moreau, leads Cyril Dessel and Pietro Caucchioli up to the line at 2'38.
Leipheimer is home for ninth at 3'24,
then Zubeldia, Menchov, Rogers and Mazzoleni are 10th-13th at 3'42.
Pereiro is now the new leader with Sastre second overall at 1'50. CSC isn't
out of this Tour yet.
Merckx finally leads Floyd Landis
home, 10'04 behind the winner. That's the end of Landis' yellow dream.
Well, that was a pretty interesting
stage, and the Tour de France is definitely not over! Pereiro has the jersey
back, but can he keep it? We'll find out tomorrow... see you then.
1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 5.36.04
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.41
3 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 1.54
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.56
5 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
6 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 2.37
7 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crédit Agricole
8 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 3.24
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 3.42
11 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank
12 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile
13 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) T-Mobile
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 4.21
General classification after stage 16
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 74.38.05
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.50
3 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
4 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 2.43
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 2.56
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 3.58
7 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 6.47
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 7.03
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 7.46
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 8.06
11 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 8.08
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