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July 20, 2006

Stage 17 on the road

OLN is going to regret starting their broadcast at 7:30 today.

An early 11-man breakaway featuring T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz got about 11 minutes on the field, and on the day's first climb, the Col des Saissies, 6 Phonaks came to the front of the field, and started grinding the advantage of that break down, dropping Simoni, Sandy Casar, Thomas Voeckler, and David Moncoutié, and closing it down to 9:30.

Landis signs inWith only Victor Hugo Peña, Koos Moerenhout, and Landis left for Phonak at the head of the pack, Landis attacked super strongly, and cracked Pereiro. Only T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden and Michael Rogers, Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, CSC's Carlos Sastre and Rabobank's Denis Menchov could hold on.

Landis drops T-MobileMenchov was next to crack, and then Landis soloed off the front. Rogers attempted to bridge up, but nobody was going to catch Landis. He's riding alone in pursuit of the early breakaway, while the yellow jersey rides 2:38 behind, alongside the other GC contenders in a group of 45, with 3 Caisse d'Epargne teammates.

Phonak, which was the last team with 9 riders, has seen Martin Perdiguero abandon after setting pace for Landis early. Juan Miguel Mercado, leading the Agritubel team, has also abandoned, and QuickStep's José Rujano, who finished last on yesterday's stage, didn't start today's stage. José Gomez Marchante has also abandoned.

Landis soloLandis is over the top of the day's 1st climb. He's got 118 kilometers (about 70 miles) to go. Credit Agricole's Patrice Halgand was 1st over the climb, ahead of 6 other survivors of the break. Landis was 3:10 behind the break, and 3:25 ahead of the yellow jersey.

The breakaway has come back together, with 11 riders: Discovery's Padrnos, CSC's O'Grady, T-Mobile's Sinkewitz, Credit Agricole's Halgand and Le Mevel, Liquigas's Paolini, Lampre's Righi, Cofidis's Auge, QuickStep's Tankink and Garate, and Française des Jeux's Gilbert.

Halgand has attacked off the breakaway.

Now Landis comes up to the breakaway. The breakaway's pace rises, and Le Mevel, Paolini, Auge, Tankink, and Gilbert are falling off the pace.

Sinkewitz and Garate are at the front of the survivors; only Righi, Padrnos, Sinkewitz, Garate, Landis, O'Grady, and Landis are chasing Halgand now.

Klöden, Menchov, Leipheimer, and Rogers ride near the back of the yellow jersey group, led by 3-4 Caisse d'Epargne riders.

Garate has fallen off Landis' group. Now Padrnos drops off the back. Landis is doing all the work, with Sinkewitz on his wheel.

Halgand is 1:45 up the road. The yellow jersey group is roughly keeping pace; they're 5:10 behind Halgand, and 3:25 behind Landis.

Halgand is over the Col des Aravis. There comes Landis, 1:14 back, with Sinkewitz, Righi and Stuart O'Grady. The surviving peloton, with David Arroyo leading Pereiro at the front, picks up Paolini near the summit, and goes over the top at 5:44 to Halgand, or 4:30 to Landis.

As Landis approaches Halgand low on the Col de la Colombiere, his group drops Padrnos and O'Grady, so there are 4 riders leading the race: Landis, Sinkewitz, Righi, and Halgand. Now Righi is dropped.

Landis has 5:21 on Pereiro's group! Landis switches bikes off the team car. Reportedly a broken rear spoke.

The gap is still going out as Landis nears the top of the Col de la Colombiere; it's 6:01 with 72 kilometers (43 miles) to ride. Landis is still doing all the work for the break, spinning comfortably, while Halgand is standing out of the saddle.

There goes Halgand; he's popped.

We're seeing a replay of Stage 13: Caisse d'Epargne is doing the pacemaking in the peloton, but they're not driving the gap down, and they can't get T-Mobile, CSC or Rabobank to help out. Just as Phonak did on Stage 13, Caisse d'Epargne is choosing not to kill themselves chasing Kid Rock.

Honchar is off the back of the peloton.

Landis comes over the top of the Col de Colombiere; 66 kilometers to ride; Sinkewitz is with him. They face a long descent and valley, a 3rd-Category climb, a plateau, then the almost 12 k ascent of the Col de Joux-Plane, which many think is the hardest climb of this Tour. There's then a 12-kilometer drop in to Morzine and the stage finish.

Halgand at about 1:00 behind.

De la Fuente jumps out for King of the Mountains points, ahead of the field at 8:25 back, and it's 8:33 to Pereiro! Landis is yellow jersey on the road. He'll recover some on the descent.

The gap goes out to 9:05, and Caisse d'Epargne surrenders: They've pulled their riders off the chase. CSC has sent Jens Voigt to the front, and is driving the pace higher in the peloton.

The peloton keeps pulling back remnants of the early break, and now catches Padrnos and Righi. The gap has fallen to 8:47.

There are riders falling out of the peloton again, as Landis and Sinkewitz cross over the top of the 3rd Category Cote de Chatillon; T-Mobile has sent Honchar to help set pace. Halgand hits the top at 4:49. Stuart O'Grady is recaptured as the peloton approaches the summit; CSC leads across at around 8:03.

Switching to a final climb post...Gonna be an amazing finish, no matter what.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2006 | Permalink


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OMG! And I have another meeting to go to today!

Posted by: DL Byron at Jul 20, 2006 8:39:10 AM

just wanted to say how great this site is... keep up the good work for those of us unlucky enough to have to work.

Posted by: Steve at Jul 20, 2006 9:46:14 AM

Guess they can lay to rest the line about Landis lacking panache now.

Posted by: noelle at Jul 20, 2006 10:16:01 AM

Ditto on DL Byron's thoughts. I need to retire so I can just watch the stupid think live.

Posted by: Dave at Jul 20, 2006 11:01:05 AM

Holy smokes! Whatever Landis ate last night/this morning, I'll have a bowl please. Wow!

Posted by: Brian at Jul 20, 2006 11:20:34 AM