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July 18, 2006

Stage 15 on the road

There have already been a few attacks this morning, leading to a big and interesting group of 25 riders who are 3 minutes up the road.

Here's the list:
Discovery Channel - Hincapie and Martinez
Team CSC - Schleck, Voigt and Zabriskie
T-Mobile Team - Mazzoleni
AG2R Preyovance - Arrieta
Gerolsteiner - Wegmann
Rabobank - Flecha
Phonak - Merckx
Lampre-Fondital - Cunego and Vila
Caisse d’Epargne - Arroyo and Garcia-Acosta
Credit Agricole - Charteau
Euskaltel - Landaluze
Cofidis - Chavanel
Saunier Duval-Prodir - De la Fuente and Lobato
Française des Jeux - Eisel and Vaugrenard
Liquigas - Albasini and Garzelli
Bouygues Telecom - Pineau
Milram - Knees

Eisel took the day's first sprint for 6 points, ahead of Albasini and Patxi Vila.

All the GC riders but Evans have teammates in this break; Cunego and Landaluze are riders to watch, and it's good to see the current King of the Mountains, David de la Fuente, in here as well.

With 65 kilometers ridden, 122 to go, the gap is 4:11. They're on the Col d'Izoard, and QuickStep's Rujano is off the front of the pack, while Thomas Voeckler is already off the back.

Boonen is off the back, and barely turning the pedals.

Albasini, Knees, Pineau, Eisel, Wegmann, and Garcia-Acosta are falling off the lead group. Garzelli has gone off the front of the leading group. Zabriskie is off the lead group. Now Flecha is popped.

Marchante has attacked from the field, with Marzio Bruseghin, Lopez Garcia, and Sylvain Calzati.

Juan Miguel Mercado attacks from the peloton. He's turning Marchante's quartet into a quintet.

Garzelli is 2.5 kilometers from the top of the Izoard, still leading the stage. Rujano is passing through the back of the 25 original escapees, 2:55 behind Garzelli, and about 2:25 behind Hincapie, Schleck, Mazzoleni, Merckx, and the other surviving original escapees.

Garzelli is over the top. De le Fuente leads the next group, for 18 mountain points, with Damiano Cunego 3rd, 1:10 behind Garzelli. The peloton is about 6:30 back, with riders spread crazily all in between. There will probably be some consolidation on the descent, with a feed zone and sprint line before the Col du Lautaret, 48 kilometers/30 miles away.

Egoi Martinez has crashed near the front of the race, and Caisse d'Epargne's Nicolas Portal went down just ahead of the yellow jersey, but climbed right back on. Martinez is being treated by race doctors. He's back in the race but in the main field.

Cunego, Voigt, Hincapie, Zabriskie, Schleck, Mazzoleni, Arrieta, Merckx, Vila, Arroyo, Charteau, Landaluze, Chavanel, de la Fuente, and Lobato are riding together, 1:10 behind Garzelli with 81 kilometers to ride.

Garzelli is at the feed zone with 77 kilometers to ride, and the leading group is closing fast. He's caught in the feed group, and Wegmann and Flecha have caught up, as well, giving 18 riders out in front.

Knees is in between.

Then eight riders: Albasini, Bruseghin, Calzati, Marchante, Mercado, Pineau, Rujano, and Vaugrenard, are 3:17 behind them, and Phonak leads the peloton 4:21 back with 67 kilometers to ride.

Zabriskie leads Lobato and Hincapie over the sprint line.

Vila attacks the lead group on the Lauteret, and de la Fuente joins him. He wants the mountain points. They've got 10-15 seconds. The main field is closing the gap, 3:59 behind de la Fuente.

Bram de Groot has abandoned. He was Rabobank's alternate, pressed into service when Thomas Dekker didn't start the Tour.

Rujano's smaller group has caught Knees. I hope they can treat it. Now Rujano's group is caught, and only the big group and its 2-rider mini-break is left in front of the peloton.

Boonen abandons! The world champion, 2nd in the points classification, has stepped off the bike and is out of the race.

Rujano is off the back. Zabel off the back. Pineau off the back.

Flecha, Charteau, and Wegmann have gone off the Cunego/Voigt/Hincapie group; they're “Chase 2” right now. CSC's 3 riders lead the chase of Vila and de la Fuente, while Caisse d'Epargne continues to lead the main group, with T-Mobile and Phonak contributing riders at the front.

De la Fuente leads Vila over the Lautaret, followed by Garzelli and Voigt leading the break. Rabobank puts a rider in the front of the field, which tops the Lautaret 4:20 back of de la Fuente.

I'm going to switch to an Alpe d'Huez posting for the rest of the stage.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2006 | Permalink

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