93rd Tour de France - ProT
France, July 1-23, 2006
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Stage 17 - Thursday, July 20: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne- Morzine, 200.5 km
Live Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan,
Hedwig Kröner and Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 11:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:10 CEST
The final act in the 2006 Tour's
Alpine Trilogy is the longest yet. At 200km, it contains two category one, one
category two and a category three climb, with a final ascent of the steep Hors
Category Col de Joux-Plane, where Lance Armstrong cracked big time in 2000,
before a wild plunge to finish in Morzine. An early break can get an advantage
on Stage 17, but can they hold it all the way to Morzine?
We're rollin' rollin' rollin' in
Stage 16 of this topsy-turvy Tour of surprises. It definitely ain't over yet
as we face a third tough day in the Alps today, without forgetting Saturday's
time trial. Oscar Pereiro is in the maillot jaune after taking it back in spectacular
style yesterday, but there are five riders who can realistically take it from
him. Although Phonak was responsible for giving away the yellow jersey to Pereiro
last Saturday, I'd say some of the other teams are regretting not keeping the
gap down that day...
The climbs on the menu: Col des Saisies (km
82.5, Cat. 1, 14.9 km climb at 6.4 %), Col des Aravis (km 109, Cat. 2, 5.9 km
climb at 7.1 %), Col de la Colombičre (km 134, Cat. 1, 11.8 km climb at 5.8
%), Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses (km 162, Cat. 3, 5.1 km climb at 4.9 %), Col
de Joux-Plane (km 188.5, HC, 11.7 km climb at 8.5 %).
Le Grand-Bornand (km 122.0), Verchaix (km 172.5)
function: __________/\_____ [signs of life! We're good to go]
It's already hot (30 degrees) as
the riders roll out of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and along the valley for their
6.6 km neutral section. The skies should stay clear today, as there is no rain
The riders get the flag and they're
off and racing in stage 17. The huge mountains on either side dwarf the peloton
as it winds along the valley.
11:52 CEST 4km/196.5km to go
Jose Rujano (Quick.Step),
who finished last yesterday and was theoretically outside the time limit, didn't
start this morning. He had been suffering from a sore throat (following an inflamed
toe) and he decided to pull out.
11:54 CEST 7km/193.5km to go
Let the battle commence!
The first attack of the day comes from Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre-Fondital), Juan
Manuel Garate (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Pietro Caucchioli (Crédit Agricole),
Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval), Luca Paolini (Liquigas) and Anthony Geslin
(Bouygues Telecom), who have 10 seconds at 6 km.
11:58 CEST 9km/191.5km to go
Carlos da Cruz (FDJ)
is trying to get across, but he is caught as Team CSC closes down the break
12:04 CEST 15km/185.5km to go
The bunch sticks
together for a bit, as it snakes up towards Epierre.
12:09 CEST 18km/182.5km to go
The next attack
takes 14 riders clear at km 12: Pavel Padrnos (Discovery Channel), Stuart O'Grady
(Team CSC), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Joost Posthuma and Pieter Weening (Rabobank),
Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital), Juan Manuel Garate and Bram Tankink (Quick-Step-Innergetic),
Patrice Halgand and Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole), Stéphane Auge (Cofidis),
former mountains leader David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval), Philippe Gilbert
(Française Des Jeux), and Luca Paolini (Liquigas). The group has 40 seconds
on the peloton, which is moving rapidly.
12:11 CEST 20km/180.5km to go
Of the group, Patrik
Sinkewitz is best on GC in 36th at 49'57, so that's not going to bother the
GC riders. But the presence of De la Fuente may concern mountains leader Rasmussen.
The Saunier Duval man could take the mountains jersey back with a good ride
today. But maybe that's not Rabobank's main concern: They won't chase this break
as they have two riders in it, and Rasmussen might well be assigned to protect
12:14 CEST 24km/176.5km to go
drops out of the break, which has 45 seconds on the bunch.
12:17 CEST 25km/175.5km to go
They've been averaging
50 km/h for the first part of this stage as the breakaway tries to establish
itself. 13 riders still lead the bunch by 45 seconds.
12:23 CEST 31km/169.5km to go
David De La Fuente
(Saunier Duval) has also dropped out of the break, probably at the request of
the Others. With him there, Rabobank will want to chase. And Peter Weening also
drops out, leaving 11. The pressure is now off the bunch, so the group gets
1'30. There is no-one up here who can threaten anybody (in the context of the
race!) so these guys can be let go all day, if necessary.
The group is now: Patrik Sinkewitz
(T-Mobile - best on GC at 49'57), Pavel Padrnos (Discovery Channel), Stuart
O'Grady (Team CSC), Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital), Juan Manuel Garate and
Bram Tankink (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Patrice Halgand and Christophe Le Mevel
(Crédit Agricole), Stéphane Auge (Cofidis), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des
Jeux), and Luca Paolini (Liquigas).
12:30 CEST 37km/163.5km to go
The lead gently
balloons up to 4'00 as the 11 leaders buckle down to their task. It's an interesting
mix of riders, and there are some decent climbers here, like
12:36 CEST 41.5km/159km to go
The first part
of this stage is either flat or downhill, and the breakaways are making the
most of it. The lead increases to 4'50 and continues to rise.
12:42 CEST 46km/154.5km to go
The leaders will
cover close to 50 km in this first hour, and they have a good sized group to
do it. There are some useful tempo riders here like Padrnos, who will probably
find it tough in the hills.
The bunch rolls along, now 8'30 behind
the 11 in front, who have just gone through Albertville, known for its Winter
12:51 CEST 52km/148.5km to go
And as predicted,
the average speed in the first hour is 50.3 km/h, while the peloton has averaged
around 43 clicks. That's still respectable, and hardly 'piano'. The gap is up
12:57 CEST 55km/145.5km to go
The foot of the
first of the day, the Col des Saisies is 12 km hence, and the riders are already
starting to climb gradually. The lead continues to rise as the breakaways now
have 11 minutes. It looks like all the favourites will save their powder for
the final climb today, and try to put Pereiro under pressure.
13:02 CEST 58km/142.5km to go
The lead in this
Tour de France has changed nine times so far between seven different riders
(Landis and Pereiro have both had it twice). The record is eight different leaders,
which happened in both 1958 and 1987. So if (say) Sastre gets today and Klöden
takes it on Saturday, that will be a first.
It's been a remarkable
Tour in many ways, and the most open in years. 2003 was the last 'close' one,
and in the decade before that, we didn't see too many changes at the top. 1989
was an interesting year, but it was mostly between Fignon and LeMond.
Well, none of the riders in the break will take the lead today, even though
the gap is now 11'05.
13:05 CEST 60km/140.5km to go
The gap comes down
for the first time, from 11'05 down to 10'46. The break has probably eased off
a bit, having established a decent lead now.
13:14 CEST 65km/135.5km to go
sits on the front of the peloton, riding a controlling tempo now as the leaders
get very close to the Col des Saisies. As mentioned at the top, this is a Category
1 climb, 14.9 km long averaging 6.4%. Not easy, especially after the last two
13:21 CEST 69km/131.5km to go
The leaders hit
the climb with an 11'18 gap to the bunch, but that falls to 10'44 as the uphill
13:28 CEST 71km/129.5km to go
Phonak is working
on the front of the bunch, keeping the gap stable. After his jour sans yesterday,
Floyd Landis is up for it today.
13:29 CEST 72km/128.5km to go
Phonak has done
a good job, and pegged the leaders back to 8'44 as the front group is now 5
km into the climb. As a result, there are just 30 riders left in the group
The gap plummets to 7'09 as Klöden
and Landis take off, leaving Pereiro behind!
13:36 CEST 74km/126.5km to go
The chase group:
Carlos Sastre (Team CSC), Andreas Klöden and Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Cadel
Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) and Floyd Landis (Phonak).
Behind them, Oscar
Pereiro is with teammate David Arroyo and José Luis Arrieta (AG2R-Prevoyance).
13:38 CEST 75km/125.5km to go
Landis is alone
now, 6'43 behind the leading group of 11! Behind him, Klöden, Rogers, Menchov,
and Evans are chasing, then the yellow jersey group, which is still quite big,
is further back.
13:39 CEST 76km/124.5km to go
Klöden and co have
gone back to the yellow jersey group, where Caisse d'Epargne is setting temp
for Pereiro. Landis is now 6'02 behind the leaders, with the bunch at 6'48.
13:42 CEST 77km/123.5km to go
The leaders are
6 km from the summit of the Saisies, with Landis closing in on them slowly.
The lead group again: Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile - best on GC at 49'57), Pavel
Padrnos (Discovery Channel), Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital),
Juan Manuel Garate and Bram Tankink (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Patrice Halgand
and Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole), Stéphane Auge (Cofidis), Philippe
Gilbert (Française Des Jeux), and Luca Paolini (Liquigas).
is coming back to the yellow jersey group, as well as Hincapie, Fedrigo, Horner,
Vandevelde, Commesso, and a few others.
Landis pours water on his head as
he rides up in the big chainring. This is a bold move, but it might go the way
of Leipheimer's yesterday. Or it might go the way of Rasmussen's... The bunch
is 1'20 behind the Phonak rider.
Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel)
has quit the race.
13:45 CEST 77.5km/123km to go
abandoned after leading out Landis for his attack on this climb.
The leaders accelerate, and Paolini and Le Mevel go out the back. Hmm, Le Mevel's
teammate Halgand is the one doing the forcing.
13:48 CEST 79km/121.5km to go
Pereiro still has
three teammates with him on this climb, which flattens out for a bit. Garcia
Acosta is on the front, setting tempo.
Landis is carrying a bidon
in his hand as he climbs, constantly pouring water on his head. He doesn't bother
to put it back in the bidon cage. He's 4'50 behind.
Moreau is dropped
from the yellow jersey group again, but he doesn't look too bad.
13:51 CEST 80km/120.5km to go
Landis is now over
two minutes ahead of the yellow jersey, as he drapes his hands over the front
of the bars to get more aero on a flatter part of this climb. He's 3'47 behind
the now seven leaders: Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile - best on GC at 49'57), Pavel
Padrnos (Discovery Channel), Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital),
Juan Manuel Garate, Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Philippe Gilbert (Française
13:55 CEST 81km/119.5km to go
Landis closes to
within 3'30 of the front seven, who are close to the top of the Col des Saisies.
This is putting Pereiro under a lot of pressure, and if Landis doesn't win,
someone else might profit.
13:57 CEST 81.5km/119km to go
David Millar is
well placed in the yellow jersey group, just behind Pereiro.
seven leaders, who are now 1 km from the summit of the first climb. Landis,
chasing, has sweat pouring off him. But he looks determined. Full credit to
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier
Duval) has abandoned.
13:59 CEST 82.5km/118km to go
The wind is against
the riders on the climb. At the top, it's Halgand sprinting for the points and
getting them ahead of Gilbert. He keeps going too.
Landis is 1 km
from the top.
14:02 CEST 85km/115.5km to go
Landis is doing
what Pantani did in 2000, when Armstrong almost cracked on the Joux-Plane. Pereiro
had better take care - Landis was 'only' 8'08 behind. Landis continues with
the bidon in his hand. He does everything his own way, that's for sure!
At the top of the Saisies, Landis is under three minutes behind the leaders,
and over three minutes ahead of the yellow jersey group, which is about 30 riders
strong and led by Vicente Garcia Acosta.
The results of the Col des Saisies.
1. Halgand, 2. Gilbert, 3. Garate, 4. Padrnos,
5. O’Grady, 6. Sinkewitz,
7. Righi, 8. Le Mevel.
14:06 CEST 88km/112.5km to go
Le Mevel has rejoined
the lead group, which is now eight riders strong. They are just about on the
main part of the descent.
Landis and Phonak (for a bit) pulled
back eight minutes on that climb. Chapeau Floyd!
14:10 CEST 91km/109.5km to go
Le Mevel stops
to check his bike. He gets a bike change and is going again. He should catch
on on the descent. Auge has rejoined the leaders too, and tells Halgand to take
it easy so Le Mevel can get back.
Landis is now 2'28 behind the leaders(!)
while the bunch remains at 6'00.
14:13 CEST 94km/106.5km to go
like a demon, and is now 1'56 behind the leading nine. He was renowned for doing
this as an amateur rider - generally giving the pros a hard time.
14:16 CEST 96km/104.5km to go
The lead group
is back to 11 as Tankink and Paolini get back on on the descent. Landis should
be able to get them on the next climb. Or the next descent.
14:19 CEST 98km/102.5km to go
The leaders ride
through the feed zone in Flumet, and everyone grabs feedbags. Landis will take
more time back because of that. He is descending very well, taking tight lines
through the corners. His MTB skills are coming in handy.
is a bit knackered as the road goes uphill again. He's off the back. Also Paolini,
Auge, Tankink are off the back, as Halgand has attacked!
14:20 CEST 99km/101.5km to go
Landis gets a bidon
and some food from the team car. He doesn't take a feed bag though. He's 1'37
behind Halgand, with the bunch still at 5'25.
The bunch snakes down the hairpins
at the foot of the Saisies, with Caisse d'Epargne leading all the time. Everyone
makes it and they ride through Flumet.
14:23 CEST 101km/99.5km to go
to eat and drink as he falls back to 1'55 behind the leader Halgand. The yellow
jersey bunch is at 4'50, but will lose time through the feed. Garcia Acosta
is still on the front.
Leipheimer has problems with his
feed bag, and lets a gap open up, but he'll close that fairly easily.
14:25 CEST 102km/98.5km to go
Landis gets back
into his aero position, hoping to erase the two minute difference between himself
and the riders in front. They are almost on the Col des Aravis, a Cat. 2 climb
that is 5.9 km long averaging 7.1%.
14:26 CEST 103km/97.5km to go
At the foot of
the climb, Landis has caught the next group! Only Halgand is in front of them.
The average after two hours is 39.1km/h.
14:29 CEST 104km/96.5km to go
The chase group
is now: Floyd Landis (Phonak - 11th at 8'08), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Pavel
Padrnos (Discovery Channel), Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), Daniele Righi (Lampre-Fondital),
Juan Manuel Garate, Bram Tankink (Quick-Step-Innergetic), Philippe Gilbert (Française
Des Jeux), Stéphane Auge (Cofidis), Luca Paolini (Liquigas), Christophe Le Mevel
Garate, Landis and Sinkewitz are riding tempo,
1'20 behind Halgand. Le Mevel is dropped. Then Paolini, Auge, probably Tankink...
Yep. Gilbert too.
14:32 CEST 105km/95.5km to go
In the yellow jersey
group, Menchov and Klöden sit towards the back with Leipheimer and Guerini.
Is that because they're bad or they are waiting?
In the Landis group,
Garate and Sinkewitz set tempo, putting Padrnos in trouble next, but he fights
to hang on. Now just O'Grady and Righi are left with Padrnos, Garate, Sinkewitz
Halgand, meanwhile, has 1'46.
There's an acceleration in the group
and Padrnos drops off with Landis. But then they both ride back fairly easily.
Garate was going pretty hard there.
14:34 CEST 106km/94.5km to go
Garcia Acosta is
dropped from the maillot jaune group, work done for the day. Just two Caisse
d'Epargne riders left with Pereiro. The group is 4'45 behind leader Halgand,
while the Landis group is 1'45 behind him.
Zandio and Arroyo are the men riding
for Pereiro now in the bunch, with Sastre, Dessel and Schleck right on their
wheels. Moreau is there too, and Boogerd, Hincapie, Evans, etc. The T-Mobile
riders are about halfway up the group, which is at least 35 riders strong.
In the chase group, Garate is no
longer there. Not sure if he's off the front or the back. Landis is doing the
work, bidon in hand.
14:38 CEST 107km/93.5km to go
It looks like Garate
has been dropped from this group. Padrnos is often in trouble, but he's hanging
on. They are not far from the summit, and the big Czech rider will had to chase
on the descent.
14:40 CEST 108km/92.5km to go
The rest of the
early break is at 3'00: Christophe Le Mevel (Crédit Agricole), Philippe Gilbert
(Française Des Jeux), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step), Stéphane Auge (Cofidis), Luca
Paolini (Liquigas). Also, Landis' helper Axel Merckx is about 10 minutes down
on the leader, so he's not with the yellow jersey group.
the pace up towards the top, with just Sinkewitz, Righi and O'Grady able to
14:42 CEST 108.5km/92km to go
Halgand is less
than 1 km from the summit of the Col des Aravis, and he gets encouragement from
a lot of fans. The group behind is getting closer: 1'20 and falling.
14:43 CEST 109km/91.5km to go
Halgand will take
the points at the summit, but he's not a threat for the polkadot jersey. The
French rider is now over the top.
Zandio rides tempo in the yellow
jersey group with Arroyo and Pereiro on his wheel. The other teams will be happy
enough with this, but the situation will change on the Joux Plane.
14:45 CEST 110km/90.5km to go
a lot, leads the chase group up to the top of the Aravis, 1'14 behind Halgand.
Then Sinkewitz, Righi and O'Grady follow in that order. And Padrnos in sixth,
not too far behind.
Arroyo has dropped back in the yellow
jersey group, leaving just Zandio setting tempo for Pereiro, 5'30 behind Halgand.
So Landis has 4'20 at the moment.
Paolini is caught by the bunch.
14:51 CEST 116km/84.5km to go
Zandio leads his
captain to the top, 5'48 behind the front group. At the back, Gonchar is eating
and drinking, just behind Fothen. Cunego is also in this group, and will be
aiming to make up time for the young rider classification today. He's just 2'42
Pereiro asks Sastre what CSC will do today. "I don't
have any guys left!"
Aha - first official cow sighting. Brown, white
14:52 CEST 117km/83.5km to go
The third hour
is run at 32.8 km/h, which means the overall speed after three hours is 37 km/h.
Landis gets a gap on the rest through La Cluzaz, as he takes the right line
through a roundabout. The gap is 0'55, with the bunch at 5'40.
Arroyo is back to the front of the
peloton, riding for Pereiro.
14:55 CEST 120.5km/80km to go
Landis uses a very
"low slung" position on this descent, which is pretty quick, not too technical.
Padrnos is back on the group. They have pegged Halgand back to 40 seconds.
14:58 CEST 122km/78.5km to go
Halgand is in Le
Grand-Bornand, taking the sprint points, but only keeping 30 seconds of his
lead to the Landis driven chase group. They'll catch him soon enough, and his
team director might have advised him to sit up.
14:59 CEST 123km/77.5km to go
Halgand is now
on the Col de la Colombičre, a Cat. 1 climb, 11.8 km long at 5.8 %.
Landis and Sinkewitz take second and third in the sprint, with Righi, O'Grady
and Padrnos hanging on. They take a sharp left hander and are on the climb too.
It's getting hotter, with the temps in the valleys in the mid 30s. This is going
to hurt a lot of riders today.
Landis closes the gap to Halgand,
putting O'Grady and Padrnos O.T.B.
Four leaders: Floyd Landis (Phonak
- 11th on GC at 8'08), Patrice Halgand (CA), Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Daniele
Righi (Lampre-Fondital). The peloton is 5'32 behind. Impressive ride by Landis,
who is on a mission today.
15:04 CEST 124.5km/76km to go
The peloton comes
up to the sprint, still a good 40 riders strong.
to set the tempo, bidon in hand, sweat pouring off him, shedding Righi. Just
Sinkewitz and Halgand left with the determined Floyd.
15:07 CEST 126km/74.5km to go
Landis gets off
the bike and gets a new one. He gets a push, and is on his way back to Halgand
Landis pours water over his head
and back again. He's going to keep cool today.
Fedrigo has a bleeding
nose, and the race doctor is holding it for him.
Gilbert and Auge
are caught by the bunch.
15:10 CEST 127km/73.5km to go
Arroyo and Zandio
continue to ride in the group maillot jaune, 5'21 behind Landis.
Righi, O'Grady, Padrnos, Garate, Le Mevel and Tankink are still in between the
leaders and the peloton.
Landis has ridden Halgand off his
wheel...only Sinkewitz left now.. Halgand has blown and slipped right back.
15:15 CEST 129.5km/71km to go
Halgand is already
28 seconds back, as Landis continues to power away with Sinkewitz clinging on
for dear life. The peloton is now 6'00 behind.
15:17 CEST 130km/70.5km to go
Given that Landis
is the best time trialist of the GC riders, the other riders in the bunch are
probably getting concerned. A tad. But there is still the Joux Plane to overcome,
and you can bet that the pace will increase behind.
Landis is in
second overall, virtually.
15:20 CEST 131km/69.5km to go
for his team car, and gets two bidons, one of which he empties over himself.
He rides up the Colombičre with the young T-Mobile rider still doing well to
hang on. The mountains dwarf them on either side, and the fans encourage them
in their bold effort. This has been another great stage.
d'Epargne riders are a bit stuffed now. Only Arroyo is left as Zandio shakes
his head and drops back. The maillot jaune still looks cool, but he's running
out of friends.
15:23 CEST 133km/67.5km to go
It's up to 7'09
to the peloton as Landis continues to get more bidons from the team car. He's
just drunk one, got two more, emptied one of them on his head. He's determined
to stay cool. Maybe he's going for a water bottle consumption record, like the
time he (allegedly) drank 14 cappuccinos in Girona with his friend Dave Zabriskie.
15:25 CEST 134km/66.5km to go
Arroyo has a pained
look on his face as he realises he's the only one left for Pereiro in the MJ
group. No other teams seem to be interested in riding yet, although they certainly
will once the Joux Plane starts. It may be too late then...
is a minute behind Landis/Sinkewitz. Still fighting to stay in some sort of
contact. But he'll have a hard time taking that back on the descent.
15:27 CEST 135km/65.5km to go
If...and it's still
an if...Landis wins the stage, he'll probably need 7'38 to take the yellow jersey
back, assuming that he takes the next bonus sprint. 20 seconds bonus for the
stage win plus 10 seconds en route, and he started the day 8'08 behind.
Landis takes the points at the summit, Sinkewitz second. Halgand is third at
It's 7'40 now, so Landis is very
close to being the virtual maillot jaune (taking bonus seconds into account).
What a ride!
15:31 CEST 138km/62.5km to go
his leg on the descent, as he keeps the aero position, but doesn't get too low
yet. Sinkewitz keeps his wheel as they snake around the corners at 61 km/h.
Sinkewitz is not quite as good on the descent, but he can hang on ok.
8'06 is the gap. Halgand is at 1'07.
15:33 CEST 140km/60.5km to go
Schleck chats on
the batphone to his director, but is not given the instruction to chase. He
pats Pereiro on the back 'sorry mate, can't work, boss's orders'.
Gonchar is now treated by the race doctor for nosebleed.
15:35 CEST 142km/58.5km to go
Rogers moves towards
the front, next to Arroyo. Maybe T-Mobile will ride for Klöden.
La Fuente attacks for mountain points, but there can't be many left. He catches
Tankink at the top. That should give him 10th, with the peloton crossing at
15:37 CEST 143km/57.5km to go
The bunch now glides
down the descent of the Colombičre, with Arroyo leading.
the climb was Padrnos, then O'Grady, Righi, Garate, and De La Fuente, who got
This is not an easy descent, as the roads are in poor condition.
Phonak tells us that the reason for
Floyd's bike change on that climb was a broken spoke in his back wheel.
15:41 CEST 148km/52.5km to go
Arroyo is joined
by Zandio on the descent, in front of the group maillot jaune. That'll be good
for the Caisse d'Epargne riders.
Landis and Sinkewitz lead Halgand
by 1'16, then the group is at 8'50. Various parts of the break are in between,
but we can ignore them for the time being.
15:43 CEST 151.5km/49km to go
skills have earned him more time on the chasers. 1'36 to Halgand and 9'02 to
If he ends up within striking distance of yellow today,
he could take it in the time trial.
Ah, now CSC is riding. This will
15:45 CEST 152.5km/48km to go
Voigt and Vandevelde
get to the front of the bunch with Sastre, Arroyo and Pereiro in tow. This should
prevent Landis from getting much more time. He's now at Cluses, with 48 km to
go. Still doing all the work with Sinkewitz sitting on, protecting Klöden's
Halgand is at 1'57. He ain't coming back.
Garate is caught next as CSC continues
to work on the front. They want Sastre to win the Tour, so obviously they're
not going to sit on, riding to make Pereiro lose.
15:49 CEST 155.5km/45km to go
to his team car as Floyd time trials in front, on the flat. He knows that the
T-Mobile rider won't help him.
15:52 CEST 157.5km/43km to go
The gap is still
9'06 as the two leaders hit climb 4, the Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses. It's
only a Cat. 3 climb, 5 km at 4.9 %. But the Joux-Plane awaits.
is doing a lot of work in the chase.
15:53 CEST 158km/42.5km to go
Landis sits on
the point of the saddle, keeping the CSC chase at 8'43. He still has sweat pouring
off, and he still looks very determined as he tackles this climb in the big
ring, arms over the tops of the bars. He keeps pouring water on his head too.
15:54 CEST 158.5km/42km to go
Voigt and Vandevelde
are leading the chase, with Arroyo in third wheel. They catch Righi and Padrnos.
And probably O'Grady soon. He might be able to help them chase too.
15:56 CEST 160km/40.5km to go
is transparent with sweat and water as he powers up this short climb. How far
can Sinkewitz get? Now more riders are riding in the peloton, with two T-Mobiles
up there with CSC. 8'47 is the gap.
15:57 CEST 160.5km/40km to go
Gonchar and Kessler
are working with Vandevelde and Voigt, and a couple of AG2R Riders are also
there. Hincapie is in eighth wheel, maybe going to work, but that would be strange
if he did.
Halgand is at 3'30.
15:59 CEST 161km/39.5km to go
Landis opts for
a lower gear as he pedals towards the summit of the Châtillon-sur-Cluses, bidon
in hand, keeping his cool. Sinkewitz hasn't been drinking as much as Landis.
Vandevelde leads the bunch to the foot of the climb, 4 km behind Landis.
16:00 CEST 162km/38.5km to go
The bunch looks
pretty ragged as it tackles the climb. Evans sits behind Zubeldia. Sprick lifts
his wheel off the ground, yelling at himself to keep going, keep hanging onto
16:02 CEST 163km/37.5km to go
Landis takes the
points at the summit. but he won't threaten Rasmussen's lead in that polkadot
Halgand is at 4'08, while the Gonchar driven bunch
is at 8'25. They look desperate now.
16:03 CEST 164km/36.5km to go
himself with Vandevelde and Voigt hanging on. Garzelli is dropped.
Landis is now on the descent, perfectly positioned. He's using a hands on the
tops position, very low.
8'19 is the gap.
16:05 CEST 164.5km/36km to go
The two CSCs work
on the front of the peloton as Floyd and his shadow Sinkewitz ride through Taninges.
Halgand is now at the summit of the
climb, 4'49. His stage is over, if he had any thoughts of victory.
16:07 CEST 165.5km/35km to go
Gonchar is pedaling
a remarkably small gear, bringing the gap back to 8'08. He takes a water bottle
from a spectator and pours it on his head.
O'Grady is caught, as he was probably
asked to continue riding hard until this climb. He does some work, but Gonchar
takes over again and O'Grady falls back through the bunch.
16:09 CEST 168.5km/32km to go
The gap at the
top of the climb is 8'04 as Voigt leads the bunch over for fourth. Vandevelde
takes over for his turn.
16:10 CEST 169.5km/31km to go
Floyd is on the
bars in the faux-TT position, as Sinkewitz signals again for his team car. Maybe
he wants a tow rope. He doesn't get one, only a bidon.
Landis is pedaling at 90-95 rpm,
keeping a strong tempo and - importantly - in the aero position.
Hincapie hasn't been contributing to the chase, only T-Mobile and CSC.
16:12 CEST 171.5km/29km to go
and Vandevelde hammer the peloton on the flat as we approach the foot of the
Joux-Plane. This is an 11.8 climb at 8.5% (ouch!!). Things will change there.
16:14 CEST 172.5km/28km to go
Even Pereiro is
suffering to hold onto the pace of the chasers ahead of him. Remarkable ride
by Landis, who looks so smooth. He comes up to the sprint in Verchaix.
16:16 CEST 173.5km/27km to go
The chase is even
splitting the peloton on the flat, which is about 35 riders strong. But somehow,
Landis holds his eight minute gap.
16:17 CEST 175.5km/25km to go
Aha, the gap is
down to 7'23 as the chase finally has an effect. They go under 25 km to go.
Landis got the six seconds at the sprint ahead of Sinkewitz.
16:18 CEST 176.5km/24km to go
The sweat drops
onto Landis' computer as he shifts position on the front of the bars. Sinkewitz
looks relaxed behind him, salt caked on his gloves. But the Joux Plane is starting
16:19 CEST 177.5km/23km to go
Halgand took third
in the sprint, and is 6'35 behind Landis. The bunch is at 7'13, and Landis is
definitely out of the virtual yellow. But out of the race? No way.
Leipheimer sits last wheel in the bunch, getting a bidon. Kessler works on the
front with Gonchar.
Landis and Sinkewitz start the Joux-Plane,
and it's steep straight away.
Halgand is caught.
16:21 CEST 178km/22.5km to go
Landis gets out
of the saddle, keeping the cadence up as Sinkewitz stays seated. The gap is
6'53 to the bunch, which is going to blow to bits on this climb.
16:22 CEST 178.5km/22km to go
Sinkewitz is dropped!
Landis doesn't care. That's amazing riding.
was third in the sprint.
The group maillot jaune is in full
flight towards the foot of the climb, led by Kessler and Gonchar, who will give
everything for Klöden. CSC is in next rank. Pereiro is in about 10th.
16:24 CEST 179.5km/21km to go
again for his car, which can feed him until 20 km to go.
Sinkewitz has his glasses off now,
perched backwards on his neck. 6'18 is the gap between the bunch and Landis.
Can the Floyd hang on to win the stage? He certainly deserves it. What a ride.
Voigt does another turn, then Gonchar
as the peloton reaches the foot of the Joux-Plane, just 6'21 behind Floyd Landis.
They turn left, and the race is really on for the GC. Vandevelde pulls off,
then Kessler does a turn, Voigt pulls off, Schleck and Sastre next in line.
The bunch quickly reduces and Pereiro
is a fair way back. He's going to have a tough time of it today.
Landis' PowerTap reads 20 km/h and
Leipheimer is dropped. The maillot jaune group is really
thinning down. A lot of T-Mobile riders: Guerini, Mazzoleni...
Leipheimer is going backwards. He
goes out with most of the Discovery team (Azevedo, Hincapie, Popovych). Schleck
rides hard with Sastre on his wheel. They get a gap. Boogerd looks back for
16:29 CEST 179.5km/21km to go
So it's Sastre
and Schleck riding away from the yellow jersey group, which has Dessel, Klöden,
Cunego, Zubeldia, Arroyo, Mazzoleni in it.
Sastre is now alone.
16:30 CEST 180.5km/20km to go
Rogers is dropped
with Rasmussen. Sastre is third on the road, 6'03 behind Landis.
Menchov and Rasmussen are off the
back of the yellow jersey group, which is led by Guerini and Arroyo. Dessel
is still there. And Klöden, Caucchioli and Zubeldia.
and Fothen are a bit ahead.
16:32 CEST 181km/19.5km to go
Moreau and Evans
are in pursuit of Sastre, who is 6'12 behind the incredible Landis. Pereiro
is at 6'20.
16:33 CEST 181.5km/19km to go
Behind Moreau and
Evans, Cunego and Schleck ride. Then the yellow jersey group with Dessel and
Klöden and most of the other GC riders.
Sastre is 5'58 behind Landis.
Sastre looks OK as he keeps his gap
up. Sinkewitz sits up when the team car pulls along side.
quite hold Moreau's wheel, but he's there. Menchov and Boogerd are just behind
those two. The yellow jersey group is already 40 seconds behind Sastre.
16:36 CEST 182.5km/18km to go
Everything is happening
on this climb, but still Floyd Landis is out the front. He has 5'53 on Sastre
and is motoring up the climb.
Moreau, Evans are being chased by Menchov,
Boogerd, Schleck and Cunego. Evans can't follow Moreau.
Moreau should probably be helping
Dessel, but what the hey...
16:38 CEST 183.5km/17km to go
Sastre goes under
20 km to go, in pursuit of Sinkewitz. He's still 5'55 behind Floyd! If Pereiro
cracks, Floyd needs about 6'18 on Sastre to take yellow. But there are bonuses
(he has 10 seconds so far). Anyway, we'll see...
Evans is caught
by the Boogerd group. The yellow jersey group has Guerini, Klöden, Mazzoleni,
Rasmussen, Caucchioli, Fothen, Dessel.
16:40 CEST 183.5km/17km to go
Floyd is 5 km from
the top, and it should get a bit easier now. Sastre already has 1'00 on Pereiro.
16:41 CEST 184km/16.5km to go
Moreau is still alone, then Boogerd, Schleck, Menchov and Cunego. Then the group
maillot jaune, led by T-Mobile. Moreau is about 20 seconds behind Sastre, and
the maillot jaune is still a minute behind the CSC rider. Sastre needs 1'50
to take yellow.
Schleck is offered a bidon from the
team car. He takes it.
Sastre catches Sinkewitz: 5'47 behind Floyd.
Then Moreau at 6'09, then Menchov at 6'21, then Pereiro rides hard in the yellow
jersey group to put Klöden in difficulty.
16:46 CEST 185.5km/15km to go
in pursuit of Moreau, and gets him. This is a mad stage. The yellow jersey is
already 7'00 behind Landis.
Klöden is goooone from the yellow jersey
group, which has Pereiro, Rasmussen, Zubeldia, Valjavec...and now Dessel is
16:47 CEST 185.5km/15km to go
So it's Floyd Landis
looking great for the stage win today. He's powering toward the summit, just
3 km to go. Sastre is still 5'47 behind. Floyd is under 15 km to go. Sastre
looks a bit cooked. He hasn't close much of the gap.
gets rid of Moreau, and is en route to Sastre.
16:48 CEST 186km/14.5km to go
The group maillot
jaune has regrouped with Pereiro, all the T-Mobiles, Zubeldia, Dessel, Valjavec
and Rasmussen. But they're at 7'03 behind the leader!!
16:49 CEST 186.5km/14km to go
has to hold it together on the descent to win the stage and he will certainly
put himself back in contention for yellow. What a stage!
Cunego is trying to get up to Sastre,
with Moreau now in fourth, alone. Then the Boogerd/Menchov/Evans/Schleck group.
Dessel loses the yellow jersey group again, along with Valjavec. Klöden is fighting
hard to keep in contact with Pereiro, Rasmussen and Zubeldia. Sinkewitz is helping
16:52 CEST 187.2km/13.3km to go
5'38 to Sastre,
6'04 to Cunego, 7'04 to the maillot jaune. Landis has actually put time into
Pereiro on this climb. Sastre is very close to yellow too. He needed 1'50 on
Pereiro, and there's a 12 second bonus for second.
Dessel fights hard with Valjavec
and Guerini, as Klöden swings off the back of the yellow jersey group with Sinkewitz
16:54 CEST 187.5km/13km to go
Landis is 1 km
from the summit, and he's still pedaling powerfully, getting a light push from
an FDJ fan. Sastre gets some encouragement from another, better looking fan.
Moreau has Cunego in his sights.
16:56 CEST 188km/12.5km to go
The yellow jersey
group hangs together, with Pereiro keeping the damage at 7'04. Klöden is still
hanging tough, with Sinkewitz doing a great ride. Ahead of them, Menchov and
Boogerd have been dropped by Evans and Schleck.
Moreau is back with
16:57 CEST 188.5km/12km to go
Time bonus for
the win: 20, 12, 8 seconds. If Landis beats Sastre by 6'00, and Pereiro by 7'38,
he'll take yellow.
Landis is at the summit of the Joux Plane with
over five minutes on Sastre.
16:58 CEST 189.5km/11km to go
Boogerd and Menchov
are back with the yellow jersey, with Menchov going backwards fast. Rasmussen
eases up to wait for him. They are still in contact, but only just.
Sastre is now 1km from the top of
the mighty Joux-Plane, 5'12 behind flyin' Floyd. Moreau is at 5'58, ahead of
Cunego now, and the yellow jersey is at 7'21.
Floyd is starting the
17:00 CEST 191.5km/9km to go
Menchov and Rasmussen
are 10 seconds behind the yellow jersey group now. Only Pereiro, Evans (just
getting caught), Klöden, Sinkewitz, Zubeldia in that group.
17:01 CEST 192.5km/8km to go
The descent will
be critical. Landis is the best descender, but he'll be also very tired. Just
hold it up!
Sastre puffs his way to the summit, doing a great ride
today, and he could also take yellow.
Sastre crosses the summit 5'07 behind
Landis. Then Moreau will be third.
17:03 CEST 195.5km/5km to go
is over the top at 5'59, then Cunego at 6'19.
Boogerd and Schleck
are just in front of the yellow jersey group, and Boogerd comes over next at
6'52, then Schleck, Pereiro, Zubeldia and Klöden.
Now Rasmussen comes up with Evans,
Menchov and Sinkewitz at 7'20. Rasmussen checks to see where Menchov is, and
Landis is driving down the descent
as Dessel comes over the top at 8'20 with Guerini and Valjavec.
Landis gives it everything on the
descent as Sastre goes over the final false flat over the top of the Joux-Plane.
17:06 CEST 197km/3.5km to go
Landis is within
4 km of the finish, gliding down the Joux-Plane and taking the corners carefully.
He has 5'20 on Sastre.
17:07 CEST 198km/2.5km to go
Landis dives into
another corner. 3 km left. Just keep it up, and he'll be home.
17:07 CEST 198.5km/2km to go
Sastre is now 5'24
back as Floyd rides a great descent into Morzine. 2 km to go. He gets around
that corner that Heras crashed on several years ago.
17:08 CEST 199.5km/1km to go
Last km, and Landis
makes it around the last tricky corner. Maybe that was the Heras corner.
Landis is hammering and is on track
to a fantastic stage win. He gives a big push on the pedals, but is careful.
Floyd Landis has 500m to go as he
reaches the finishing straight. This is the best ride in recent Tour history
by any rider.
17:10 CEST 200.5km/0km to go
Floyd Landis hammers
it top the finish, getting everything he can out of the bike. He clenches his
fist in triumph. YES!!! What a brilliant ride.
Landis has a look of fire on his
face as he rehydrates after the finish. What can Sastre do?
Pereiro leads his group on the descent,
now at 5 km to go. He's at 7'20. Landis might not take yellow today, but he's
got a great chance on Saturday.
Dessel has crashed on the descent.
But he's back on the bike, luckily.
Sastre is home now, after descending
well and keeping it upright. The CSC sprints full out. The gap at the finish
is 5'40. That puts him 20 seconds ahead of Floyd on GC. Moreau is third at 5'57.
Cunego is fourth at 6'40. Then Pereiro
leads the bunch up for fifth. But Boogerd and Schleck take him at the line.
7'07, so Pereiro holds yellow. Just.
Pereiro was probably regretting his
"Let him go, he'll die in the hills" tactic on the Col des Saisies. But he still
leads the classification by 12 seconds from Sastre and 30 to Landis.
It ain't over yet, that's for sure.
The top three are separated by just 30 seconds going into tomorrow's transitional
stage between Morzine and Mâcon. Then Saturday's long time trial will decide
the Tour, and would you bet against Floyd after today? As he said at the finish,
he was happy with the win, but "I came here to win the Tour".
see you again tomorrow.
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 5.23.36
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 5.40
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 5.57
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 6.40
5 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 7.08
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
7 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 7.20
General classification after stage 17
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 80.08.49
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.11
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 0.31
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 3.08
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 4.14
7 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 4.24
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 5.45
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 8.16
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