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95th Tour de France - Stage 17 Live Part 3
By Staff
Date: 7/23/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 17 Live Part 3

95th Tour de France - Stage  17 Live Part 3
The battle continues... Peter Velits the lone survivor of the break has cleared the Croix d'Fer and is waging a perhaps futile effort on the approach to the Alpe d'Huez...

Stage 17 Embrun - L'Alpe d'Huez  210 km
50 km to go -
Cancellara rejoins the pack, first stopping to pick up more bidons  of water for his team mates. Cancellara will for sure hammer his pedals in the valley again. CSC have 5 guys leading the GC group, more riders are rejoining the group on the descent.

1631 CEST - 43.5 km to go, In the meantime Velits drives his gap up to 1.32. I think the tactic to use Arvesen just to set the pace and not hammer the group down could be useful come the Alpe - Cancellara and Voigt could take a breather and then be used on the final climb.

40 km to go. still 26 km to the ascent of the Alp - Jerome Pineau is in the chase now and is 57 seconds behind Velits. He must have been taking some risks on the descent, as he was distanced with a few km of climbing left. Still easy going in the bunch. about 40 riders back together it looks more like a training ride than a stage in the Tour. The riders are using the descent to rest no doubt. There's going to be "Hell to pay" when they hit the final climb as its the last chance to gain time on Evans and your rivals.

I think Cadel Evans has 9 extra team mates if you count CSC, Velits has 1.43 on the bunch,10 seconds to Pineau. CSC needs to destroy Evans and Menchov to avoid press criticism by at least 2:30 on the Alpe. Bernhard Kohl is looking good riding near the front.

1655 CEST - 25 km to go, 11 km to the ascent Velits and Pineau have joined on the descent their gap1.54, we suspect they'll be caught rather quickly too!

1700 CEST - 20km for our two leaders, 6km to the ascent, gap down to 1.45. Cancellara back leading the chase, actually more setting the pace on the descent. If CSC is smart Andy goes hammering from the start of alpe d'huez and than launches his brother Fränk and Carlos Sastre. I'd start with Cancellara on the first km or so, then dual/triple attack Evans, Andy attack first, then Sastre, then possibly Frank or Andy again.The first 4 km are the toughest you have to launch there - That's why I'd let Fabian drive for 1km, then go. Weaken first; attack after.

1705  CEST - Coming up on the second and final intermediate sprint in Bourg d’Oisans as our lead duo work well together with 195 kilometers covered today. Pineau takes the final sprint followed by Velits. Buckle up folks the leaders are about to start the  L’Alpe du Huez!

1608 CEST - 15km to go; our two leaders have a gap of 1'04" 13.8 km to go... Arvesen his work is done and drops of. 6 CSC riders leading the GC group. Velits is caught and dropped. Pineau remains in front 50 seconds the gap.

Sastre attacks - Menchov joins They gain ground! The others don't follow, Evans takes the lead in the chase now, Evans has Van Summeren with him. Cunego and Kirchen dropped. Sastre another attack; Menchov cant follow. Pineau has been caught. Sastre is the new stage leader. Evans forced to take the pace... Everyone is following, no help for the Australian, Mario Aerts rides too fast for his team leader.

Moncoutie goes, followed by Kohl, Sanchez drops off too I think Evans looks very uncomfortable, Menchov in problems and drops. Sastre looking good out front.

1613 CEST - 12km to go Sastre has 14 seconds - Maillot Jaune group with Evans, Kohl, Schlecks, Valverde, Vandevelde - Menchov and Sanchez Efimkin and Andy Schleck in the chase, Kohl now follows, I think Valverde is hanging on.

Frank Schleck goes...Sastre has 20 seconds, Evans responds immediately. CSC needs someone to get across to Sastre. Andy Schleck moves up onto Kohl's wheel, is he preparing an attack ? Attack of Efimkin. Andy Schleck bridges up to Efimkin. Vandevelde comes up - Vandevelde let Evans do the work! Vandevelde got rid of Evans now bridging up to Andy Schleck and Efimkin.

Evans leads the yellow jersey group. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

10 km to go - Sastre with a 34 second gap,  Is Franck Schleck tired? Evans setting the pace now. Frank Schleck is pushing at the front now. Menchov already 55 seconds down on Sastre. It looks like Kohl is a new team mate of Evans. Evans has been dropped, Valverde and both Schlecks in the attack. Evans dropped.  No-one helping Evans thus far. Vandevelde has bought Evans back. Kohl drops.

9 km to go - Kohl is back, Sanchez rejoins too. Sastre has 50 seconds and is the new virtual leader. I feel that this race is slipping away from CSC... Sastre needs two more minutes at least. Andy Schleck and Stephane Goubert in the counter, Kohl coming up, Evans gapped.

1727 CEST - All back together behind Sastre - Sastre has 55 seconds. Will CSC continue to work in the GC group, with Sastre pulling out such a gap? Menchov is coming closer to the group Schleck/Evans. Efimkin attacks again; Andy Schleck counters the Russian. 6 chasers behind Sastre others come back to the group.

7 km to go - Sastre leads by 1'17"! Fränk Schleck attacks but Evans reacts. Menchov rejoins too - Sastre virtual Maillot Jaune by 18 seconds - he'll need a lot more time. Sastre leads with 30 second; he was 49 seconds down on Schleck this morning - 1.30 already.  28 seconds he leads the GC right now

1731 CEST -6km to go for Sastre. His lead is 1'25" over the Groupe Maillot Jaune. What the hell is Ag2r doing with Goubert, Valjavec and Efimkin? 1.35 for Sastre. It's good for both the stage and to take yellow, but to hold on in Saturday's time trial to Saint -Armand- Montrond he'll need more... 1.45 for Sastre.

1634 CEST - 5km to the finish - Carlos Sastre (CSC) has a 1'51" lead on the Yellow Jersey group containing the two Schlecks, Kohl, Valverde, Evans, Vandevelde, Efimkin, Damiano Cunego, Nibali, Kreuziger were all dropped early on this epic climb. The gap is still growing two minutes now. With ag2r leading the pace he will have 3.00 at the finish.

Efimkin on the attack again. Gap 2,11 Andy Schleck chases Efimkin down. Efimkin is no threat, why did Andy shut that gap? Let the Ag2R rider get away, and Sastre can keep increasing his gap on the Maillot Jaune group. Schleck and Efimkin chased down; Evans goes to the front, he is not beaten yet.

2.18 the gap to Sastre - He needs more, he now leads with 1.39 more or less on Evans, he still need 1 more minute.

3 km to go - Sastre out of the saddle in a full out effort. Valverde and Fränk Schleck on the attack. Frank follows, Vandevelde fights back, Evans on his wheel. Christian is going for the Podium, he won't help CSC, and his work for Evans in unintentional. the gap is now 2.25.

2 km to go - Sastre for sure the stage winner and new yellow jersey. but with how much. Evans doing the work now on the front. Sastre is approaching the CSC fan party, the crowd will erupt almost 2.30 now.

15 meters for Carlos Sastre... Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1.5 km to go - 2.30 gap, Final km for Sastre. Attack Samuel Sanchez, Andy follows, Menchov too. Andy Schleck can't bridge to Sanchez.

500mt for Sastre... The stage winner on the Epic Alpe D'Huez is


Carlos Sastre Celebrates on the line. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

A very deserved winner. Final km for Sanchez, Andy Schleck bridges up to Sanchez now. Sastre's gap surely won't be that substantial, I reckon just over two minutes. Perhaps he will be inspired wearing the yellow jersey in the TT, or attack again tomorrow.

Sanchez finishes 2nd and Andy Schleck third at 2.00, Evans comes in at 2.16, 2'03" back to Schleck and Sanchez. Sastre leads 1.24 on Schleck, 1.33 on Kohl and 1.34 on Evans in the new overall ranking. Is it enough? Interesting tactics... Giving Sastre the nod and playing him and still they couldn't break Evans by much. Evans wisely profited from others who had to work to keep their G.C. positions.

At the Cholet TT, Kohl lost 1'20", Frank lost 1'53" and Sastre 1'22", however, this final TT on Saturday is longer and more of a 'traditional' TT course. Evans never cracked, and never looked like losing two minutes to Schleck, Valverde and Vandevelde or Menchov.

A good day for Spain with Carlos Sastre in yellow and Oscar Freire solidly leading the green Jersey.

Evans managed to keep his main rivals Schleck and Kohl close. With his edge in the time trial it is currently his race to lose. Evans is 1.34 down in GC now; who knows what will happen in the TT? Sastre won't be the first non time trial specialist who did an outstanding time trial in the yellow jersey... look back to Pantani or Rasmussen; Simoni also did it in the Giro...  the leaders jersey can give a rider the jolt of morale and confidence. But we will all find out on Saturday.

Stage 17 Results (Provisional) Top 15
1. Sastre Carlos 11 Team Csc Saxo Bank 6h 07' 58"
2. Sanchez Samuel 27 Euskaltel - Euskadi   02' 03"
3. Schleck Andy 16 Team Csc Saxo Bank   - 02' 03"

4. Valverde Alejandro 31 Caisse D’epargne  - 02' 13"
5. Schleck Frank 17 Team Csc Saxo Bank  - 02' 13"
6. Efimkin Vladimir 104 Ag2r-La Mondiale   - 02' 15"
7. Evans Cadel 1 Silence - Lotto   - 02' 15"
8. Menchov Denis 131 Rabobank   - 02' 15"
9. Vandevelde Christian 191 Garmin Chipotle  - 02' 15"
10. Kohl Bernhard 115 Gerolsteiner   - 02' 15"
11. Kreuziger Roman 65 Liquigas   - 03' 11"
12. Valjavec Tadej 109 Ag2r-La Mondiale   - 03' 36"
13. Goubert Stephane 107 Ag2r-La Mondiale   - 03' 50"
14. Moncoutie David 188 Cofidis Credit Par Telephone - 04' 57"
15. Vogondy Nicolas 129 Agritubel   - 05' 16"

General Classification After Stage 17
1. Sastre Carlos 11 Team Csc Saxo Bank 74h 39' 03"
2. Schleck Frank 17 Team Csc Saxo Bank   - 01' 24"
3. Kohl Bernhard 115 Gerolsteiner   - 01' 33"

4. Evans Cadel 1 Silence - Lotto  - 01' 34"
5. Menchov Denis 131 Rabobank   - 02' 39"
6. Vandevelde Christian 191 Garmin Chipotle   - 04' 41"
7. Valverde Alejandro 31 Caisse D’epargne  - 05' 35"
8. Sanchez Samuel 27 Euskaltel - Euskadi   - 05' 52"
9. Valjavec Tadej 109 Ag2r-La Mondiale   - 08' 10"
10. Efimkin Vladimir 104 Ag2r-La Mondiale   - 08' 24"

Thanks for joining Bart Hazen, Nick Bull and me for our live coverage today. Be here tomorrow for Stage 18 a hilly course of 196.5 kilometers from Bourg d'Oisans to Saint-Étienne. A perfect day for the stage hunters or for the sprinters teams to try to control the peloton and arrange a sprint finish. We could see the battle for the green jersey reignite with Oscar Freire defending his jersey from Thor Hushovd who follows with a deficit of 47 points... Erik Zabel's deficit is 53 points, perhaps out of the game but still seeking the glory of a stage win in his final tour de France.

Nick Bulls Stage Preview: Tour Course Previews Week 3

Stage 17 Profile - Stage 17 Last 10 km

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