July 19, 2005
Stage 16 underway
Several early probing attacks have gone and been captured. Currently, a 10-man break that includes Saunier Duval-Prodir's Chris Horner, Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, and Juan Antonio "Never Seen an Attack He Didn't Like" Flecha, is almost 7 minutes in front of the leader's group.
Magnus bummer as Magnus Backstedt, who battled over the worst of the Pyrenees over the last two days, didn't take the start. He was 40 seconds inside the time cut yesterday. Also not starting today was Gianluca Bortolami of Lampre-Caffita.
Former pro mountain biker Cadel Evans is off the front of his breakaway with about 7 kilometers to climb on the Col d'Aubisque.
A number of riders are in between the break and the peloton; notably Oscar Pereiro, still smarting over his 2nd place finish Sunday, and Alexandre Vinokourov. Roberto Heras has hooked up with Alexandre Vinokourov out in front.
The peloton is being whittled down to the team leaders. Down to 8 including Landis, Leipheimer, Mancebo, Mayo, Rasmussen, Ullrich, Basso, and (correction) Kaschechkin. Ullrich probes the group, and off drop Leipheimer, Landis, and Mancebo. They've reintegrated, and that group has caught Freddie Rodriguez, who was off the front with Cadel Evans earlier.
The gap from Evans all the way back to Armstrong's group is between 5 and 6 minutes, and dropping. Hincapie has caught back up to Armstrong's group. Kashechkin was accidentally hit spot on the nose by a spectator earlier in the stage, and had to get medical treatment for a nosebleed. If he can stay near the lead today, he could take the white jersey tonight; he's second to Popovych by 6 minutes.
Hincapie is off the back, Mancebo and Kaschechkin are dropped; the Armstrong group has caught Vinokourov. Armstrong is riding at the front of his group. Vinokourov attacks again!
Rasmussen moves to the front for the summit. Armstrong's group catches Chris Horner, they've recaught Vinokourov.
At the summit, it's:
Pereiro at :47
Mazzoleni/Zandio at :59
Serrano at 1:15
Ludewig at 1:33
Armstrong's group is at 2:53.
Hincapie is back with Armstrong, as is Popovych, hurting Kashechkin's shot at white. Paul Sherwen reports that Stuart O'Grady is over the descent as the first of the sprinters. There comes Thor Hushovd, so they may get to O'Grady before the day's last sprint or any finishing sprint.
On the descent, Oscar Pereiro has caught Cadel Evans, as has Eddy Mazzoleni.
Close to 20 riders are now in the group with Armstrong and Ullrich, including a number of Discovery riders, Andreas Klöden, and Roberto Heras. They're riding about 5.5 minutes behind Pereiro.
Pereiro flats! He gets a wheel change quickly, and he and Zandio have chased onto Evans and Mazzoleni.
Back in the Armstrong group, Horner flats. He should have no trouble catching up, since Armstrong and the 5 Discovery riders are taking it pretty easy. That group has grown to around 50 riders, and Evans/Pereiro/Zandio/Mazzoleni have 6:38 on that group. The day's final intermediate sprint goes to Pereiro.
Evans started the day at 12:57 in 11th place, and some of the riders filling out the GC Top 10 are starting to get nervous. Discovery has come off the front, and Credit Agricole, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner, and T-Mobile are putting guys up there to chase the break.
If he picked up 6 minutes, he would move ahead of Klöden, Moreau, Vinokourov, Floyd Landis, and Levi Leipheimer, and threaten Mancebo and Ullrich.
The chasers have brought the break back down to 4:45 with about 20 kilometers to ride.
I'm switching posts for the rest of the stage; check the home page for the new post.
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Posted by: cameron at Jul 19, 2005 10:47:53 AM
Cute, but "Armstrong won't speak French" ?? The man has gone to great effort to learn enough French for the sake of speaking with the French media. (Which is not the same as saying his French is good ... but it's certainly better than mine. ;)
Posted by: EWM at Jul 19, 2005 1:18:57 PM
Didn't Lance live in France a couple of years before he moved to Girona?
Posted by: Dennis at Jul 19, 2005 1:31:32 PM