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July 17, 2005

Stage 15 underway

There's a big early break up the road, just like yesterday. Unlike yesterday, Discovery Channel joined in, with George Hincapie jumping on. This is a strategy Bruyneel has used before; getting a support rider up the road, where he can be rested when and if the race leaders come up to the break.

Many of the riders are wearing white "Fabio" wristbands in remembrance of Fabio Casartelli.

Two withdrawals today, as Wilfried Cretskens of Quick Step and David Herrero of Euskaltel-Euskadi leave us with 160 riders in the race.

What was a 14-man break has splintered: Remaining are Hincapie; T-Mobile's Oscar Sevilla; Rabobank's: Michael Boogerd; Phonak's Oscar Pereiro; Credit Agricole's Pietro Caucchioli; and Bouyges Telecom's Laurent "Mullet Man" Brochard. They're on the Col du Peyresourde with 11 minutes+ back to the field.

In no man's land, dropped by the breakaway:
Rabobank's Erik Dekker and Karsten Kroon; Saunier Duval-Prodir's Rubens Bertogliati; Bouyges Telecom's Jerome Pineau; AG2R's Mikel Astarloza; Domina Vacanze's Alessandro Bertolini; Liberty Seguros' Allan Davis; and Euskaltel-Euskadi's Iker Camano.

Back in the field, CSC pushed the pace, and have blown the pretenders off the back, and then CSC's pulling riders, as well, leaving only Basso from CSC, T-Mobile's big 3 of Ullrich, Vinokourov, and Klöden, Mancebo, Michael Rasmussen, Floyd Landis, Horner and Piepoli of SDV, Kaschechkin of CA, and Leipheimer. Cadel Evans has caught back up to this group.

As for Discovery, they've got Armstrong, Azevedo, Popovych, and Rubiera all riding in the front.

The six leaders are working up the Col de Val Louron-Azet, 11:45 up the road. Discovery can afford to take it easy, since Hincapie's up the road, and Armstrong is so explosive on the finishing climbs. A little easier pace has also allowed Paolo Savoldelli, Carlos Sastre, Giuseppe Guerini, and Bobby Julich, and a few others to get back with the select group. Sastre jumps right to the front and is picking up the pace.

Sastre's acclelration has toasted Julich, Klöden, Zubeldia, and Sastre himself.

Vinokourov has gone to the front -- look for some hammering, and soon. There he goes.

Guerini's gone, Moreau is gone, Klöden's gone. One of the Saunier Duvals is gone. Rubiera's gone.

Vino, Ullrich, Basso, Armstrong, Mancebo, Azevedo, Popovych, Rasmussen are all here, but there goes Basso! We're down to our final three: Armstrong, Basso, Ullrich.

Ullrich can't hold Basso's wheel, so Armstrong jumps across, but now Ullrich gets the turbines spinning up and catches. Now he's dropped by 20 meters. Ullrich is stretching the bungee, but keeping Armstrong and Basso in sight. He's finally got the diesels spinning up and he's caught the two leaders, so they bump the pace again. He holds his place, and it looks like they'll ride together (maybe for the last time) over the top of the Col du Val Louron.

As the breakaway nears the summit, their lead has dropped to 9:30. Landis, Piepoli, Rasmussen, Leipheimer and Vinokourov are working together back down the hill from Armstrong/Basso/Ullrich.

At the summit, it's down to 7:40 from the leaders to the GC trio. Rasmussen's group is 1:05 behind that. We'll see if anybody can reintegrate on the descent.

Leaders have under 10 kilometers to ride, with the gap under 7 minutes. Sevilla has attacked, he's caught by the other Oscar, Oscar Pereiro, who launches off the front. Caucchioli, Boogerd, and Sevilla are dropped, leaving Boogerd, Pereiro, and Hincapie. Hincapie is riding in 3rd position, checking for the other break riders to come back.

Back with the GC riders: Basso has attacked! Armstrong jumps hard, and Ullrich again can't hold the wheel. Basso and Armstrong ride alone. Switching posts for the rest of the action. Check the home page.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2005 | Permalink


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Posted by: jerome at Jul 17, 2005 11:20:02 AM

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