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95th Tour de France - le Tour Report Card: Stage 16
By Staff
Date: 7/24/2008
95th Tour de France - le Tour Report Card: Stage 16

95th Tour de France- le Tour Report Card; Stage 16
The Tour ventures back into France over the highest pass in Europe as the home nation has reason to celebrate while there is a minor shake-up on GC…

By Tim Lee

Despite the fact that CSC comprised almost half the lead group at various times during the ascent of the Bonette-Restefond, it was largely status quo for the GC boys. That is, with the exception of Menchov and Vande Velde who lost time today. The French will be going wild as they scored first and second on the stage. Lets see how the riders scored on a day with two hors catëgorie climbs.

A- Outstanding achievement worthy of all the superlatives known to mankind.
B- Damn good effort but falling just short of stardom
C- Middle-of-the-road but can hold head high
D- Needs improving but there’s a skerrick of hope
E- Remedial classes required. No good can come from this
F- Is not fail, but rather fall. This goes to the most spectacular crash of the day
Special awards
• OFE- Obligatory French Escape. Nuff said
• le Tour Farceur - Imbécile or el Tonto Payaso... Otherwise known as the ’tool’ award, this goes to the rider that makes a decision that 99% of us can see is either wrong or futile but they think there is merit to it.
• There will also be some honourable mentions to those that excel but just don’t quite get the result they were after. Think Paolo Bettini at the Giro.

A- le Schleck brothers Lanky Frank and Handy Andy are each leading their respective classifications. Frank remains in yellow as the overall leader while Andy now wears white as the leader of the youth classification for under-25 riders. A great day for the Schleck family, Team CSC, and Luxemburg as all parties scramble to claim the dynamic duo as their own. Frank has been ultra impressive as leader of the race and really has not looked in difficulty at all on the climbs yet. And one has to wonder where Andy would be now if he had not had a down day on Hautacam in stage 10. Look for these guys to ‘double-team’ Evans and Co again on the hairpins of Alpe D’Huez.

B- Stefan ‘Schuey’ Schumacher has been quite active so far in this Tour. The stage four victor took off on the Col de la Lombarde and wasn’t seen again until the reverse lights came on towards the top of the Bonette-Restefond. He took a bit of pressure off Bernie Kohl and gave his team even more media exposure in the search for a new sponsor.

C- George ‘Superstyling’ Hincapie. Possibly the classiest rider in the break today, big George would have been the favourite for the win if it stayed together but was unable to bridge the gap to the four leaders on the daredevil descent. As the captain of the most successful team in the race (in terms of stage wins anyway) he can already call this tour a success but when he appeared in the breakaway his fans must have been excitedly thinking back to 2005 when he beat a future tour winner on the summit finish to Pla d’Adet. It wasn’t to be but it was good to see him strutting his stuff all the same.

D- Denis ‘The menace’ Menchov took a driving miss daisy approach today on the intimidating technical descent and it cost him. How much we won’t know until Paris but for a guy to look so ice cool on the climb only to loose 35 seconds on the tricky descent to the finish is a shame for the Russian. Considering he has been so consistent on all the climbs and in the time trial this year, Rabobank must be bummed that his only real time loss has been born out of an easily avoided tactical error on stage three and now a cautious approach to a descent today. Still, probably not as bummed as they were last year when they were wondering where Razza was…

E- Christian ‘V12’ Vandevelde crested the summit of the Bonette-Restefond about half a minute or so off the pace but the pressure of the chase got to him and he crashed on the decent to the finish. The American eventually finished 2:36 behind the GC men he wanted to be with and drops to sixth. Do not despair though, as this guy can punch a good time trial when he needs to.

F- John Lee ‘Spiderman’ Augustyn. When the South African burst out of the lead group and crested the high point of le Tour it looked like maybe things were on the up for Barloworld. But then things went down, about 20 metres down to be more precise. The youngest rider in this years Tour had a small margin as he began the descent into Jausiers but disaster struck as he was getting caught by the leading quartet that would go on to fight for the stage win. A momentary lapse in concentration sent Augustyn flying down the barren rocky mountain slope. Poor Johnny was stuck, clinging to the side of the mountain until a spectator came to his aid and gave him a push so he could scale his way back up to the road. Thankfully he appeared relatively uninjured but the same could not be said for his estranged Bianchi which has been reported missing, last seen hurtling down the mountain.

OFE - After missing the break on stage 15, the Frenchies came back with vengeance today in the form of a ‘one-two’ across the line. Cyril ‘Raising hell’ Dessel is having a great season after being in the wilderness following his breakthrough performance in the 2006 Tour where he wore yellow for a day but narrowly missed the stage win. He can now tick that box after today’s effort in the twisting finale. Sandy ‘Beaches’ Casar also came within a whisker of getting another stage win after his success in stage 18 last year. A great result for France, getting their second stage win this year.

le Tour Farceur Imbécile Award
The Silence-Lotto director who allowed Yaroslav ‘Popeye’ Popovych to not only remain in the break but help with the pace making of it too. As Voigt and Arvesen were dropping back from the breakaway to help the leading group, Popovych remained with the front-runners and was seen multiple times on the front of the group. All this for what? A fourth place? Given the severity of tomorrows stage it will look a bit ridiculous if Popovych cracks early and is unable to help Evans because of the bikkies he spent today attaining a fourth place today. Tactically, not a great move.

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