July 18, 2006
Stage 15: Up to Alpe d'Huez
Vila and de la Fuente are back with the lead group, which has encountered some rain on the way down to the village of Bourg d'Oisans. The gap to the peloton is 3:40.
Vila and Cunego lead de la Fuente and the other escapees. Voigt is off the back of that group. He might be setting up to join Sastre near the foot of the climb. Zabriskie moves up and leads the break. He's showing off more moves than this morning (at right).
Rabobank is working at the head of the field. Sergei Honchar has also been up front, and now Giuseppe Guerini, a former winner on l'Alpe d'Huez, has attacked from the yellow jersey's group.
Roads have dried out, and it turns out Voigt crashed. He's back with the leaders now. It's a 3:13 gap with 15 kilometers to ride, and falling fast. The leaders are getting ready to climb.
They've hit the climb, and Zabriskie is gone, Arrietta is gone. Chavanel, Garzelli, and Hincapie are at the back of the lead group, with Cunego and Lobato leading. De la Fuente has come off. There are 5 leaders: Schleck, Lobato, Cunego, Mazzoleni, and David Arroyo. Schleck leads, now Cunego comes around. Arroyo is falling away.
Back in the GC group, there are 5 men: Landis loses his last teammate, and it's 4: Klöden, Rogers, Landis, Cadel Evans. Menchov isn't here, Pereiro isn't here.
Up front Schleck and Cunego have ridden away; Mazzoleni and Logato have them in sight.
Landis sits third wheel, and Menchov is back! Three other riders are 15 meters back, then there's a big gap back. Sinkewitz is well down in the field. Boogerd is just behind the Landis group, and probably Rasmussen with him.
The Landis group isn't pushing the pace too hard, and may let Boogerd, Rasmussen and Leipheimer sneak back on. Klöden has pressed the pace, and Rogers is gone, and Menchov is gapped. Azevedo rides with Pereiro 25 seconds or less back. Klöden leads Landis, then Evans, with Menchov off the back, but likely to have Boogerd and Rasmussen's help momentarily.
Pereiro is fighting, riding his own pace. He's got Chris Horner on his wheel. Menchov is 100 meters or so behind the leaders. Landis looks comfortable.
Voigt fights to bring Sastre back up onto Menchov's wheel. Voigt and Sastre push the pace, and Menchov is falling behind Leipheimer, Voigt and Sastre. Voigt = major badass. With 10 kilometers to ride Schleck and Cunego have 2:50 on the Landis trio. Eddy Mazzoleni is climbing back up to the leaders.
Landis takes the opportunity to gap Evans and Klöden, but Klöden goes right back up to him, but Evans can't. He's falling back! He's caught by Sastre and Leipheimer, who pass him easily.
Mazzoleni has caught Cunego and Schleck.
Landis and Klöden catch Vila, and now Euskaltel's Inigo Landaluze. Leipheimer and Sastre are closing down Landis and Klöden. The gap is no more than 5 seconds. The leaders lead Landis and Klöden by 2:35 with 7.2 kilometers to race.
Landis is about to get some help: Leipheimer and Sastre have coupled up with Landis and Klöden, and they catch Merckx, and Landis attacks across to his teammate, takes one of Axel's bottles. and Klöden and Sastre match the attack, but Leipheimer is gapped.
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