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95th Tour de France - Stage 16 Live
By Staff
Date: 7/22/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 16 Live

95th Tour de France - Stage  16 Live
A break of 5 is up the road with another group of 24 off the front of the peloton on the chase as we start the hors category climb of the Col de la Lombarde

‘That last week is brutal, really tough. No one will be able to say they've got the race sewn up at least until they get to Alpe D'Huez - and maybe not even then.’ (Allan Gallopin)

Stage 16 Cuneo - Jausiers 157 km
Welcome to our live coverage of Stage 16. How prophetic the words of Allan Gallopin stated before the tour. Today the race has 6 riders within 49 seconds of race leader CSC's Frank Schleck after the battle on Prato Nevoso. The remaining jerseys are:  Oscar Freire (Green), Bernhard Kohl (Polka Dot) and Vincenzo Nibali (White).

1. Schleck Frank  Team Csc Saxo Bank, 2. Kohl Bernhard Gerolsteiner - 00' 07", 3. Evans Cadel Silence/Lotto - 00' 08", 4. Menchov Denis Rabobank  - 00' 38, 5. Vandevelde Christian 191 Garmin/Chipotle - 00' 39", and 6. Sastre Carlos Team Csc Saxo Bank  - 00' 49"

Each year at this time fans and commentators will worry and debate the time gaps and try to estimate the "window of opportunity" to win the tour in the final week... is the gap 1 minute or 5? The top ten are spread out across 4:34 with top talent who have 2 days to improve or lose their top ten placing in next three stages. Columbia's Kim Kirchen is stinging at 2:48, Vladimir Efimkin (Ag2r la Mondiale) a bold escape artist at 3:36, Caisse d'Epargne's determined Alejandro Valverde and Euskatel/Euskadi's explosive Sammy Sanchez in the 4 minute range. The 4 riders will test the window to see if they can break into the top five or boldly risk it all to claim a place on the podium. One bad day, a mechanical or crash in the next two stages could take you out of contention.

Two Hors Category climbs are on the menu today. Both are over 2,300m high and 20km long. The Col de la Lombarde, used for the first time in the Tour de France, has sections of over 9% and the Altitude gain is over 1000 metres; after 21km of climbing, there will be a lot of tired legs. A descent of the same distance follows, before the race begins elevating up to the final climb of the day.

Last used in 1993, the Cime de la Bonette Restefond is the highest climb of the 2008 Tour de France - the summit is a staggering 2802 metres above sea level. At 25.5 km long, it is slightly harder than the Lombarde, although the gradient isn’t as tough. The descent into the finish is very technical, and could well see a G.C. favourite or two working together to gain time on any other contenders who couldn’t keep up on the way up.

The unofficial start is just given. The riders roll out in Cuneo and as they leave the city the official start will be given. Today and the stage to Alpe D'Huez will be very decisive for the ranking and who will win the Tour and who not. The weather conditions are very good. Dry and pretty warm. This is ideal for the riders to race in. The official start is just given and they immediately attack.

The first attack is from Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and a rider from Lampre, but they are caught. Chavanel goes on again but Gerolsteiner reacts. Chavanel has been caught again. The attacks continue with the same result so far. 150 km to go and the bunch all together. Juan Antonio Flecha and José Ivan Gutierrez attack but several riders try to bridge across. Now attack of Carlos Barredo (Quick Step).

12:43 CEST Barredo has 100 meters now. 146 km to go. A Barloworld rider tries to bridge across. But the bunch isn't far either. Barredo is caught as George Hincapie and Sylvain Chavanel go on. But they are caught now too. Florent Brard is the next one to attack together with Trent Lowe of Garmin/Chipotle. The pace is very fast as these guys aren't allowed to get away either. Now again five riders in the attack we see Hesjedal, Fedrigo and Dumoulin but Columbia brings the pack back.

140 km to go, Still all together. lots of attacks but none escape. The pace has come down slightly in the last kilometre, and for the time being the Peloton is together. The first sprint is in 1km with  about five riders in the attack: Portal, Tankink, Hincapie, Chavanel and Hesjedal or Millar... its Millar, Thomas Voeckler joins the group.

Sprint 1, Vignolo 20.5km - 1. Chavanel,  Hincapie,  Tankink.

Vignolo, 20.5km - Chavanel takes the sprint and continues on the attack alone the rest of the group are caught. Chavanel got company of Agritubel's David Le Lay. Chavanel is so strong that he drops of Le Layv. Jurgen van de Walle, David Le Lay and some others with Freire bridge up. Moncoutie is another Cofidis rider in the attack. In today's stage Cofidis has been very active with Chavanel, Dumoulin and Brard

1306 CEST - 130 km to go. Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) has been dropped from the Peloton already - after a mere 27.5km Sebastien Chavanel, Sylvain's younger brother, dropped from the peloton as well. Chavanel was the final rider at the finish in Prato Nevoso almost 45 minutes down on Gerrans. Moncoutie in the lead with 3 seconds on Jerome Pineau and 5 seconds on the bunch. Pineau has been caught as Carlos Barredo goes in the counter attack on Moncoutie now

125 km to go. In less than 20 km the riders will enter the first slopes of the Col de Lombarde. Barredo has been very active this morning, and Quick Step need to salvage what has been a poor Tour thus far. Barredo bridged up to Moncoutie but the bunch isn't far behind either. I think we will start the Lombarde with an almost complete peloton; the break is caught. Chris Froome (Barloworld) now attacks.
The next one to attack is Giampaolo Cheula; 120 km to go still no real break.

1323 CEST - Sebastien Chavanel and Juan Antonio Flecha are back in the bunch; as Sebastien Rosseler (Quick Step) gives it a go. In front we have Voeckler, Schumacher, Le Mevel, Rosseler and Dumoulin. Stefan Schumacher - an early Maillot Jaune in the race - is in our lead group right now, Rosseler is still there. The five are working well together as the bunch rides in an easy pace now. Voeckler is in the group too, along with Demoulin and Le Mevel (Credit Agricole).

Behind them is a big second group, containing around 24 riders Arroyo and Guiterrez from Caisse d'Epargne are leading this second group,Voigt (CSC) and Danny Pate (Garmin) are in there too. The five have 20 seconds on the 24 chasers Oscar Friere is also in this group, Arvesen, Sivtsov, Hincapie, Chavanel and Burghardt too, and Philipe Gilbert.

110 km to go as the second sprint comes in a bit before entering the Lombarde. Some of the 24 riders in the chasing group are: Popovych, Arvesen, Voigt, Zubeldia, Txurruka, Arroyo, Gutierrez, Portal, Burghardt, Hincapie, Siutsou, Augustyn, Cheulo, Fischer, Lequatre, Tirralongo, Dessel, Flecha, Freire, Gilbert, Chavanel and Pate

The five leaders have 3.48 on the bunch. The speed for the first hour was 49.2 km/h; the constant attacking is the reason for this. The break is now on the Lombarde - 21,5 km of climbing ahead with an average gradient of 6.9%.

CSC is leading the pace in the bunch. A sign that they are going to attack on the Lombarde already with Arvesen and Voigt in the chasing group it's likely they do. I think with the two men up front will try and wait at Bonette-Restefond, then use either Voigt or Arvesen there... or or they attack on the Lombarde let Arvesen and Voigt wait for the descent and the about 10 km valley and than Sastre or Schleck have to do it alone... We have to wait and see.

Cancellara, Sorensen, Arveson lead the peloton on the start of the climb.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

The CSC led peloton now starts the climb. Dumoulin drops off the break. Schumacher is setting the pace. This climb has never been used in the race before, though many riders visited the area in the Spring as part of their reconnaissance. Le Mevel in trouble. Our lead quintet has 1.40 on the chasers and 4.21 on the bunch.

Our commentators today are Bart Hazen and Nick Bull calling the race from Holland and London today. The bunch is closing in:  3.50 down on the break. In the back of the bunch Sebastien Chavanel and Jimmy Casper dropped off the pack. The bunch is over 5.00 down now. So forget the 3.50 we mentioned earlier. Still four leaders with Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole), Sebastien Rosseler (Quick Step) and Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues)

Attack by Cunego (Lampre) he gets company of team mate Sylvester Szmyd, Sandy Casar is following him too. They immediately gain ground of the peloton. Valjavec and Monfort bridging up too. It's an interesting group with Cunego, Szmyd, Casar, Valjavec and Monfort... Rosseler drops off the break. Portal, who was in the second group on the road, has punctured. Le Mevel drops off the break too. As Weening, Carrara and Martinez are trying to bridge across to the Cunego group too.

1356CEST - Current situation: Voeckler (Bouygues) and Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) up front. Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) and Rosseler (Quick Step) have just been dropped by our leaders.  Large group with Txurruka (Euskatel), Hincapie (Colombia) around two minutes behind.

CSC splits the peloton. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Up front, Team CSC are doing all the pulling, though I suspect that they will not be too interested in our leading riders. Meanwhile Remi Pauriol, Matteo Carrara, Pieter Weening, Egoi Martinez and David Moncoutie are almost to the Cunego group. David Millar and Vicente Garcia Acosta just dropped off the first chase group. Schumacher has 4.38 on the bunch as both Dutch guys Terpstra and Posthuma go off the back of the peloton .

1410 CEST - So sorting this out on the climb of the Lombarde: Schumacher has 3.00 on the first chasing group of 24, 5.00 on the Cunego group and 6.11 on the bunch led by CSC with gruppettos forming off the back. Johan Tschopp makes the bridge to the Cunego group. Abandon Sebastien Chavanel.

93 km to go. 6:26 the gap, This climb is beautiful, plenty of hairpins and a glorious view looking down into the Valley. Not sure the Peloton will have much time to enjoy it. With Chavanel abandoning, Lotto rider Wim Vansevenant will reclaim the 'Lanterne rouge', where he has finished the previous two Tours. The Frenchman lost a lot of time up to Prato Nevoso - and fell to last overall - and his retirement today shows how exhausted these riders must be.

Andy Schleck leads Carlos Sastre, brother Frank, Kohl, Valverde and Menchov Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1419 CEST - 7 km to the summit. Freire dropped off the first chase group of 24 is almost caught by the Cunego group. Kreuziger just made a little move that was not appreciated by CSC. So Kreuziger, Bruseghin and two others are back in the bunch. Freire is caught and dropped by the Cunego group. Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) attacks out of the bunch too.

90 km to go - Peloton 6.55 down on Schumacher who is moving quickly up the climb the gap goes to 7.30. Schumacher is nearing the summit on his solo effort, he adds another 15 seconds to his lead. Riders are fighting to stay with the peloton at the back.

Transfer news: We mentioned a few days ago that Allan Davis is going to Garmin/Chipotle but he has finally signed with Quick Step

88 km to go, 5 km to the summit for Schumacher. The group Cunego catches Gilbert who dropped off the chasing group with Voigt/Popovych. and the Francaise des Jeux rider goes straight to the back of the Cunego group

3 km to the summit for the German stage winner and yellow jersey from the time trial in the first week. Schumi drives his gap to 8:05. Schumacher looks very strong on this climb, his rhythm is consistent and his style natural. However, with such a long way to go until the second and final climb, it will be interesting to see how he will ride on the descent and the approach to the Cime de la Bonette-Restefond. A bold move by Schumi. I think he was encouraged by previous stage, where we had two races - one of the stage, one for the GC. Carrara and Gilbert drop off the Cunego group. Cunego, Monfort and Valjavec are all not far behind from the top 10 overall if they can keep it till the finish.

1 km to the summit for Schumacher gap up to 8:30. Gaps to the chase groups, Popovytch group 4:17, Cunego group 5:10 and the Peloton at 8:32. Sebastien Rosseler is just caught by the Popovych group.

Schumacher crosses the Lombarde summit, the first in tour history to do so. Le Mevel second on the summit  2.10 down on Schumacher. Voeckler third on top at 3.15

1450 CEST - The group Popovych is now on top of the Lombarde 4.29 down on Schumacher. The Groupe Cunego is not far behind as they crosses the top 5.08 down.

80 km to go. The bunch is 8.51 down on the German. The bunch led by CSC crosses the top of the Lombarde 9.22 down on Schumacher.

Our live coverage continues: Stage 16 Part 2

Climbs remaining
Cime de la Bonette-Restefond, 133.5km (Hors Category)

Intermediate Sprints
Vinadio, 50km

Stage 16 Profile

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