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Tour de France Stage 16 Preview
By Podofdonny
Date: 7/22/2003
Tour de France Stage 16 Preview

Stage 16: Pau - Bayonne

Prior to the events of the last few days this was very much thought of as a transitional stage. “Cycle Sport” magazine rated its impact on the race at 6/10.

In spite of the events of the Tour so far this could remain true. At the start of the race I would have picked riders like Bettini, Rebellin (now of course retired), Millar (riding into his home town) or Boogerd as likely winners. That may still be the case.

However, defending the yellow jersey of Armstrong will mean a day of steely determination by the Postal squad and a walk into the unknown.

Photo courtesy

Dirk Demol (US Postal assistant director sportif) commented:

“Tomorrow? There are two steep climbs during the first half of the stage, of which the second especially looks tough, but normally the guys who go for the G.C. should never be in trouble because it’s still 70 km to the finish-line after the last climb. But you never know in this crazy Tour…”

However the time gap is small and Ullrich is in fighting mood.

Photo courtesy

Felice Gimondi (Bianchi) gave his idea of tomorrow's main players:

“From Pau to Bayonne I see the possibility of a success for those who have not yet achieved a stage win. The Col du Soudet (14 Km with a slope around 7,5%), located at sixty kilometers from the start, could be the springboard of an escape which could end successfully only if it does not involve the top runners.

"After the fights on the Pyrenees, I guess that the top racers will allow themselves a break, unless the Spaniards Zubeldia and Mayo ignite the spark provoking Armstrong’s reaction to put it off.

"In this scenario I venture a guess, for example the Kazakh Vinokourov, who lost over two minutes arriving 8th in the last stage, could attempt to pick up the delay.

"But this is a guess because it will not be easy to take the queen pair, Armstrong and Ullrich, by surprise."

"For these reasons" – concluded Gimondi – "I think that the 16th stage of the Grande Boucle will finish with a sprint from a small bunch including the most daring fugitives."

"Ullrich intends to win this Tour, and may decide to flex his arm a little. Or Vinokourov may decide to go for broke."

Certainly tomorrow's stage has gained added interest. The bookmakers make Bettini favourite. They are seldom wrong…

Photo copyright Dave O'Nyons


Photo copyright Dave O'Nyons


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