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95th Tour de France - Stage 17 Live
By Staff
Date: 7/23/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 17 Live

95th Tour de France - Stage  17 Live
Four attackers lead with 5 minutes Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Remy di Gregorio (FDJ), Peter Velits (Milram) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) as they start the climb of the Galibier...

Stage 17 Embrun - L'Alpe d'Huez  210 km
Welcome to  our live coverage of stage 17. Setting out from Embrun, the race begins to rise steadily for thirty kilometres. From there, the roads begin to rise first to the Cat. 3 Cote de Sainte-Marguerite, there are three more climbs to follow , all beyond category: the 22km of the Galibier- admittedly from its ‘easier side’ - begins. During the descent, the race passes over the Col du Telegraphe (6km of climbing) before passing briefly into the valleys. The Col de Croix-de-Fer is 29km long, although that figure includes around 5km of descending. This included, it is the longest climb in this year’s Tour, and the parts where the road is going up have an average gradient of over 7%.

It seems unlikely that any of the GC contenders will attack here; instead they will plan to have as many of their team with them at the bottom of the final climb. The opening two kilometres are, bar one section at 10km, the hardest of the ascent. The real contenders will survive this as others are dropped – the final Mountain battle begins there.

19 of the 25 men in the Yellow Jersey after the Alpe have won the Tour – three more (Zoetemelk in 1978, Delgado in 1987 and Fignon in 1989) came second.

Stage 17 Profile - Stage 17 Last 10 km

There are also two sprints. One just before the Galibier and one in the deep final at the ascent of the Alpe D'Huez. Fränk Schleck starts the stage in the leader's jersey. Freire (Green), Kohl (Polka dot) and Andy Schleck (White) are the other jerseys.

The unofficial start in Embrun is just given. It will be the toughest stage in the Alps and it's likely the queens stage of this year's Tour de France. The official start has just been given. Let the action begin.

Immediately attacks. Seven riders in the attack with amongst others Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel). Three new riders in the attack with Euskaltel, Milram and La Francaise des Jeux. This morning Francesco Chicchi didn't start as he finished outside the time limit yesterday.

The riders in the break are Remy di Gregorio, Peter Velits and an unidentified Orange Warrior. The three leaders have 10 seconds on the bunch which is chasing. The orange warrior in the break is Ruben Perez. Carlos Barredo counter attacks; still 200 km to go and all the tough climbs yet to come we are surprisingly off to a fast start. Barredo has been caught bu Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits still up front.

Jens Voigt chases the three leaders and gets 6 riders on his wheel with Popovych and Schumacher. Schumacher goes on alone he seems to have recovered well from his efforts a day ago.

We now have four leaders as Schumacher bridges up to Di Gregorio, Velits and Perez. The four leaders have 10 seconds on the bunch. But more riders in the bunch trying to bridge across. CSC comes to the front to take control, the pace slows. In the meantime a Agritubel and Cofidis rider on the move, the chasers are Stephane Auge and Geoffroy Lequatre.

1204 CEST 190 km to go. The four leaders have about 15 seconds on Auge and Lequatre and 20 seconds on the bunch. The bunch is in action again with some more attacks. Auge and Lequatre are caught. The four leaders have 36 seconds on the peloton and the gap is still growing. The pace slows as  CSC gains control of the peloton. The gap rises to 1 minute the four leaders are Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Remy di Gregorio (FDJ), Peter Velits (Milram) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel). Schumacher is the best ranked rider of the four. The roads are going up. The gap is up to 1.41

1217 CEST 180 km to go. The gap of Schumacher, Velits, Perez and Di Gregorio is up to 2.04. They are 1 km from the summit of the Cote de Sainte-Marguerite (Cat 3) Schumacher and Di Gregorio both have points for the KOM ranking. It's likely that they both would like to collect the points. Schumacher really recovered well from his efforts yesterday. He rode in the lead for over 100 km and did the Lombarde and the Bonette alone till he was caught 6 km from the summit.

Peter Velits is a first years pro with Milram and the current U23 World Champion. Velits is a good climber and a good sprint when needed. Schumacher is a first at the top of the Cote de Sainte-Marguerite (Cat 3). Di Gregorio was 2nd and Perez 3rd. Next to come is the Galibier;  more attacks by the climbers and stage hunters.

CSC has increased the pace.  The gap is now up to 3.00. The GC placing of the riders in the break are:
26. Stefan Schumacher at 22:95, 51. Di Gregorio Rémy 1"07' 20", 68. Peter Velits 1h 31' 00", 91. Ruben Perez 1h 52' 51".

1232 CEST - 170 km to go The gap is up to 3.34 with O'Grady, Sörensen and Arvesen in the lead of the bunch for CSC... the peloton looks happy to let the quartet go as the gap rises to 4.10 as they are ride towards the Col du Galibier. They are now in the famous town of Briancon. The last stage winner in Briancon was Juan Mauricio Soler in 2007. Soler won the stage after he led across the Galibier taking the stage and the polka dot jersey.

1248 CEST - 160 km to go. we are 50 km in the stage and the gap is up to 4.34. They are almost at the ascent of the Col du Galibier.

155 km to go, the gap 5.05. Our "Fab Four" are on the approach to the via the Col du Lautaret; 8 km to the start of the Galibier. In today's stage the riders will climb about 60 km. A day of pain and natural attrition. They are now on the ascent of the Lautaret/Galibier. 22,5 km to the summit; hopefully we will get some action in the bunch. We don't expect the big guns at this point, but do expect attacks from others The f inal 8-9 km of the climb are the toughest, with about 8-9% average. the first part isn't steep with an average of around 5% or less.

Monetier-Les-Baines, 57.5km - The first intermediate sprint is won by Remy di Gregorio. they are no threat for the green jersey of Oscar Freire.

1306 CEST - 150 km to go. The peloton is now on the Galibier. Four attackers lead with 5 minutes Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Remy di Gregorio (FDJ), Peter Velits (Milram) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) still 16 km to the summit for the leaders. The riders have run into windy conditions on the climb now racing into a headwind.

143 km to go The gap is down to 5.12 with O'Grady, Sörensen setting the pace Cancellara sits ready in 3rd position to take over. Arvesen comes to the front and takes a long pull. Carlos Sastre climbs comfortably at the rear of the peloton in the tail gunner position. He's there to bring back any rider that has a mechanical problem.

1334 CEST - 140 km to go. The gap is 5.06 as CSC paces the break. 9 km to the summit of the Galibier and the steeper parts are yet to come. The quartet up front continue to work well as Gregorio takes a long pull. The peloton are all together as they go up the long gradual climb with snow capped mountains rising on both sides of the road. The road is lined with fans and motor homes.

6.5 km to the summit with the four leaders working well together. their gap is 5.20 on the bunch which is still together no riders dropped; but stringing out along the climb as the gradient rises slightly. Di Gregorio continues to lead the four ahead. Jimmy Casper is the first one to drop off the pack, no doubt paying the price for his effort yesterday; it will be tough for him to reach the finish if he doesn't catch a gruppetto later on in the stage.

5 km to the summit as nothing has changed. I think the bunch will cross the top of the Galibier together. Milram's Peter Velits leads the escape, Schumacher follows. 2 km to the summit of the Galibier. The favorites will have to attack today to get time on Evans in preparation for the stage 20 57 km time trial. What we don't know is how early they will attempt an escape or if they will leave it to the final climb of the Alpe de Huez. We both think the attacks will come on the penultimate climb of the Croix de Fer, with CSC starting its assault by pressing the front to isolate and tire Evans there.

1357 CEST - 1 km to the summit. On top of the Galibier the first one over wins 5000 Euros for  the Souvenir Henri Desgrange. Henri is a former director of the Tour de France. If the riders look down to their right they can see the bunch a few corners down. The break is on top of the Galibier. Schumacher crosses the top first ahead of Di Gregorio and Velits. Schumacher wins the 5000 euro and claims the max points.

1405 CEST - 120 km to go, Attack Voeckler in the bunch, Wegmann, Kohl, Txurruka and a Barloworld rider follow Voeckler. Kohl is trying to get the points but if he goes on with Wegmann he can maybe put some pressure on CSC for the GC. The Barloworld rider is John Lee Augustyn, the unfortunate rider who crashed in the descent of the Bonette yesterday.  The 7 riders are trying to bridge across to the chasing group with Kohl. At the moment Kohl is the virtual overall leader. At the back of the bunch riders starting to fall out the back.

Kohl, Voeckler and Augustyn are as first of the bunch on top of the Galibier. Starting the descent - Crash of Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) in the break. He and Di Gregorio misjudged a turn; Di Gregorio corrected.  Perez gets on his bike again and has to chase like a mad man to return. Voeckler, on the descent and is alone in the chase now. Crash Adam Hansen and Freddy Bichot, both are ok, up and riding. Perez is back in front, again four leaders. The gap falls to 4:22 with Voekler between the fab four and the CSC led bunch. Voeckler gets company of  Txurruka and Barredo.

1412 CEST - 120 km to go Schumacher and Perez are the better descenders in the beak as Di Gregorio and Velits are 50 meters behind, The four in the break are back together, the gap has fallen to four minutes.

Our Live coverage continues: Stage 17 Live Part 2

Col de la Croix de Fer, 156km (Hors Category)
L’Alpe du Huez, 208km (Hors Category)

Intermediate Sprints
Bourg d’Oisans, 195km

Stage 17 Profile - Stage 17 Last 10 km

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Break of Four: Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Remy di Gregorio (FDJ), Peter Velits (Milram) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel)

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