July 22, 2008
Stage 16 on the roadIt's just a little bitty 98 mile ride today, but spiced with two massive hors categorie climbs, the Col de la Lombarde at 2351 meters/7713 feet, and the Cime de la Bonette-Restefond at 2802 meters/9192 feet. After that highest pass in Europe, the riders will race down a technical descent to Jausiers, down at 1210 meters/3970 feet.
Fränk Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank
Oscar Freire, Rabobank
Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas
Bernhard Kohl, Gerolsteiner
Vs. broadcaster picks:
Hummer: Alejandro Valverde
Sherwen: Denis Menchov
Liggett: Carlos Sastre
Roll: Christian Vande Velde
Roll justifies his pick based on Vande Velde's descending ability and the Rockies-like altitude of the Cime de le Bonette-Restefond, the tallest mountain ever on the Tour de France. Note also that Liggett suggests that the stage today may be the hardest single stage since World War II.
Lots of early attacks today. Eventually, five riders got a lead: Samuel Dumoulin, Thomas Voeckler, Christophe Le Mevel, Stefan Schumacher, and Sebastien Rosseler. The were quickly countered by 24 top lieutenants from a variety of teams, including Jens Voigt and Kurt-Asle Arvesen of CSC-Saxo Bank, Yaroslav Popovych of Silence-Lotto, George Hincapie and Kanstatsin Siutsou of Team Columbia, and Danny Pate and Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Chipotle.
The five leaders survived through the 2nd (and last) sprint of the day.
1. Samuel Dumoulin, 6 pts
2. Stefan Schumacher, 4 pts
3. Christophe Le Mevel, 2 pts
As the riders move onto the Col de la Lombarde, Dumoulin is immediately dropped from the 5 leaders, who were 4:25 ahead of the field, but only :40 ahead of the 24 chasers.
Schumacher proceeds to shed Le Mevel, then Voeckler, and rides alone at the head of the stage. Meanwhile, Damiano Cunego is first off the front of the field, joined by teammate Sylvester Szmyd, Tadej Valjavec, Sandy Casar, and Maxime Monfort. Riders stretch all over the mountain now, with CSC leading the yellow jersey group, 5:30 behind.
With 58 km to ride, Schumacher leads the 24 lieutenants at 2:00; Cunego's group at 4:25; another quintet, including David Moncoutie at 4:55, and the main field at 5:30.
Freire and Marcus Burghardt were dropped from the lieutenants' group. Cunego's group, now 9 riders, are about 1:00 behind the 22-man lieutenants' group. Sebastien Chavanel decides the race for the lanterne rouge is too tough, and abandons the Tour, leaving Wim Vansevenant in the familiar position of last-placed rider in the Tour.
Over the top of the Col de la Lombarde, Schumacher has nearly 9 minutes on the yellow jersey.
Hors Categorie Col de la Lombarde
1. Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, 20 pts
2. Christophe Le Mevel, Credit Agricole, 18 pts @ 2:10
3. Thomas Voeckler, Bouygues Telecom, 16 pts @ 3:15
4. Yaroslav Popovych, Silence-Lotto, 14 pts @ 4:35
5. Kantstantsin Suitsiou, Columbia, 12 pts
6. Jens Voigt, CSC-Saxo Bank, 10 pts
7. Cyril Dessel, AG2R, 8 pts
8. John Lee Augustyn, Barloworld, 7 pts
9. Sebastien Rosseler, QucikStep, 6 pts
10. José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne, 5 pts
Cunego's group passed only :30 behind Popovych. The yellow jersey and the surviving peloton summitted 9:25 behind Schumacher.
On the descent, Cunego's group joins up with Voigt's, and there are 31 riders chasing together:
- Silence-Lotto: Popovych
- CSC-Saxo Bank: Arvesen, Voigt
- Euskaltel-Euskadi: Txurruka
- Caisse d'Epargne: Arroyo, Gutierrez, Portal
- Columbia: Hincapie, Siutsou
- Barloworld: Augustyn, Cheula
- Liquigas: Fischer
- Lampre: Cunego, Szmyd, Tiralongo
- Credit Agricole: Pauriol
- AG2R: Dessel, Valjavec
- Agritubel: Lequatre
- Rabobank: Flecha
- Bouygues Telcom: Voeckler, Tschopp
- Française des Jeux: Casar
- Cofidis: Sylvain Chavanel, Dumoulin, Moncoutie, Monfort
- Garmin-Chipotle: Pate, Hesjedal
- Milram: Knees
Pate is dropped from this group, as is Dumoulin. Back in the pack, CSC is still running things, with 5 riders leading, 10:35 behind Schumacher.
On the day's biggest climb, the lieutenants group slowly dragged in Stefan Schumacher, whittling their large group down to 9, while CSC once again ground the yellow jersey peloton down to a nub, until only 8 riders rode beside Fränk Schleck. Brother Andy was a baby-faced killer, riding monster pulls that discouraged attacks. CSC didn't hestitate to bring Arvesen, then Voigt, back from the break to assist on the front.
On the steepest part of the climb, Barloworld's John Lee Augustyn attacked from the leading group of Valjavec, Hincapie, Casar, Dessel, Siutsou, Portal, Popovych and others, and was first over the top of the Tour's highest climb, with the yellow jersey group chasing barely more than 2 minutes behind.
Early on the descent, Augustyn went off the side of the mountain, had to crawl back up to the road, and left his bike far below. Augustyn waits by the road for a new bike.
Popovych, Dessel, Arroyo, and Casar now lead the stage.
Hors Categorie Cime de la Bonette-Restefond
1. John-Lee Augustyn, Barloworld, 40 pts
2. Cyril Dessel, AG2R, 36 pts @ :12
3. David Arroyo, Caisse d'Epargne, 32 pts
4. Yaroslav Popovych, Silence-Lotto, 28 pts
5. Sandy Casar, Française des Jeux, 24 pts
6. George Hincapie, Team Columbia, 20 pts
7. Tadej Valjavec, AG2R, 16 pts
8. Kanstantsin Siutsou, Columbia, 14 pts
9. Nicolas Portal, Caisse d'Epargne, 12 pts
10. Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, 10 pts
Samuel Sanchez is scorching the descent, with Dessel, Arroyo, Popovych, and Casar in the stage lead.
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