95th Tour de France - Stage 15 Live
Four crusaders on the attack with 13 minutes on the peloton as they climb the
Stage 15 Digne les Bains - Prato Nevoso 183 km
Welcome to stage 15. The 156 riders were greeted by rain at the start and the
predictions for the day call for a wet stage to the finish in Italy. Mark
Cavendish decided to pull out of the race this morning to prepare for the
Olympics. Cadel Evans is enjoying his fifth day in yellow and he has 5 rivals
within one minute the closest Frank Schleck at one second. This will be the
first stage to make a serious challenge to Evans for the jersey and for the
those favorites who lost time to improve their position on the general
classification. Nick Bulls stage 15 preview:
There is a feeling within me that the first Tour de France visit up the Prato
Nevoso will be remembered for a long time. First, the timing of it – the race
still undecided, a rest day follows the stage.... will aid this, and with it
being in Italy, someone called Damiano Cungeo would love to take the victory.
The other major climb on Stage 15, the Col a’Agnel, is also new to the Tour. The
summit is reached 58km into the route, so it is too early to be of any
significance. Bluffing could well occur here, and no doubt we’ll see a few
riders wearing sunglasses to conceal their condition.
The gap between the two important climbs will inevitably lead to a breakaway
group going away early on. The climb to the finish may be too difficult for any
escapees to stay away from the pure climbers/GC favourites, especially as the
final three kilometres average 7.5%.
© Amaury Sport Organization
The early attempts to escape only managed to string out the pack until 12
kilometers into the stage Egoi Martinez (Euskatel) initiated an attack and was joined
by Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r) and Danny Pate (Garmin/Chipotle). The trio managed
to gain 35 seconds on the field and 2 km later shared the first sprint points of
the day in Guillestre with Egoi Martinez taking the max points followed by Jose
Luis Arrieta and Danny Pate in that order. The lead trio were joined by Credit
Agricole's Simon Gerrans in the next few kilometers as the gap grew to 1:25.
158 km to go, The quartet ran the gap up
to over 4 minutes which sparked a response from Silence/Lotto with Mario Aerts
and Robbie McEwen coming to the front to lead the chase after Cadel Evans
returned to the front of peloton after a natural break. The quartet is no danger
to the leader and they obviously were given a pass to gain some time... and gain time they
did with our four crusaders taking over ten minutes out of the peloton as they
reached the hors category climb of the
141 km to go, the gap is 13:10 as the
crusaders start the 20.5 km climb... sure to be attacks on the climb by the
climbers to bridge up to the four. A Lampre duo have come to the front to lead
the chase of our brave quartet and the gap to the four drops slightly.
1436 CEST - 128 km to go, Our 4 leaders
have run the gap up to 13:45 under overcast skies. The climb runs up a large
valley with mountains on either side. Christophe Brandt of Silence/Lotto has
attacked working to bridge to the four, but it's a no go. Lampre riders continue to lead a tightly
packed peloton; the leaders are 5 km from the summit. It looks like they will
lead over the top. Behind riders are being spit out the back but not as many as
one might expect, the day is young. Silence/Lottos McEwen and Devolder are two
of the first victims.
1447 CEST - 2 km to the summit the
quartet continues to work together and holding the gap at over 13 minutes.
Riders continue to fall off the back as the road pitches up. Stijn Devolder
pulls to the side of the road the former Belgian road champion abandons the
race... a blow for Cadel Evans and the Silence/lotto crew for sure.
1456 CEST - The quartet is over the
summit Egoi Martinez led for the max points, followed by Jose Luis Arrieta, Simon Gerrans and Danny
Pate in that order with 12:50 over the peloton. Caisse d'Epargne CSC and Lampre
lead the bunch up the climb. Popovytch at the front, Evans stays safe near the
120 km to go - Our quartet is flying down
the descent staying close. All the favorites on the front as they prepare for
the descent, the Schlecks, Cunego et al. Aerts and Popovytch on the front
leading the chase.
1509 CEST - 113 km to go for the leaders.
Gap 11:35... the peloton comes over the summit Tommy Voekler led the over the
summit 11:50 down on the leaders followed by: Bernard Kohl, Remy Di Gregorio,
Yaroslav Popovytch, John Lee Augustyn, and Jens Voigt.
106 km to go - gap 11:48. The tour has
arrived in Italy, our quartet continue to work well on this long descent as the
peloton strings out over a kilometer following in a ribbon of color. The sun has come out at the finish in Prato Nevoso
which will be welcome news for the riders... The rain has started again as the
peloton or whats left of it, continues to descend. We are about 29 km from the second intermediate
sprint in Rossana.
98 km to go - Voekler leads the first
group with 20 seconds. Oscar Freire and a small group have rejoined the peloton
on the descent, the rain continues on the peloton while our lead quartet have
dry roads. The four: Egoi Martinez (Euskatel) Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r) Danny
Pate (Garmin/Chipotle) and Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole) continue leading with
1524 CEST - 83 km to go. Oscar Pereiro
has crashed on the descent... he is moving which is good news. The gap goes up
to 14:37 for our 4 crusaders having the advantage of the dry roads on the
descent and the peloton slowing. The peloton has slowed with none leading the chase as they wait for
news of Pereiro; they spread across the road with no one at the front. The gap goes up to over 15 minutes for the four ahead. It
rises to 15:53 as the peloton waits.
78 km to go - Pate leads the quartet as
the gap goes to 16:13. The chase has picked
up as 3 lotto riders led by Vansummeren lead the bunch as we get an update on
Pereiro. Oscar Pereiro was conscious after his fall but has sustained serious
injuries with possible fractures to his shoulder and femur... he is currently on
his way to the hospital; his tour over.
72 km to go - 16:40 the gap, Lampre has
joined Silence/Lotto on the front; the pace has gone up another notch on the
chase, but it doesn't look like a popular decision.
1554 CEST - 69 km to go, the gap to our
four leaders has gone up to almost 17 minutes on the chase as they race ahead
under sunny but windy conditions; the 4 are enjoying quite a lead as they
approach the final intermediate sprint to come in 4 km. It looks like we may
have the winner of today's stage in the group... they have the cat 3 pimple as
the only obstacle before the climb of the Prato Nevoso summit. 67 km to go the
gap goes over 17 minutes.
Fans line the road and hillside gallery waiting for the riders to arrive on the
Prato Nevoso. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1603 CEST - Cunego and Lampre lead
through the feed zone getting a gap, not an attack but avoiding trouble. Cunego
and Lampre, along with the other Italians are of course highly motivated to show
well as the tour arrives in Italy. Cunego's acceleration has split the peloton
in two with about 20 in a group 100 meters ahead. The gap has fallen below the
17 minute mark as the Lampre's raise the pace, the peloton reacts and the chase
is on. Through the second intermediate sprint Gerrans led Pate and Arrieta for
the max points.
60 km to go, the second group closes the
gap. Frank Schleck is back at the team car picking up bottles - now that's a
surprise the second placed rider doing domestique service. Riders continue to
raise the pace with Cadel having to chase back on while the riders rifle through
their mussetes and try to eat. The four up front continue to pound away working
together but the Lampre press has reduced their gap to 15:45 in the last 5 km.
1614 CEST - 56 km to go, the gap steady
at 15:45 as CSC Jens Voigt joins Lampre and Garmin on the front. Evans is
surrounded by 4 of his team mates in tenth wheel. The pace is flying now as the
gap falls to below 15 minutes with 53 km to go. Can the four stay away, or will
they succumb on the final climb?
53 km to go, the four fight back - 15:01
the gap. The peloton responds - 50 km to go the gap falls to 14:50 it's a full
out peloton/break pursuit.
Our live coverage continues:
Stage 15 Live
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