Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Tour de France, Stage 16

World champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) made it into a small escape group with 60 km to go and won in a sprint over two of the escapees, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) and Ryder Hesjedal (Team Garmin-Cervelo). "It's unreal," said Hushovd. "It started well with the team time trial and seven days in the yellow jersey, then I won the stage alone (stage 13) and now I've won the stage today against my countryman (Hagen) and with my teammate Hesjedal behind me. I was thinking that it was a bit like a national championships, which is incredible. We're the only two Norwegians in the race and we're fighting it out for the win."

Alberto Contador surprised the GC leaders with several attacks on the slopes of the category 2 Col de Manse. Basso and Cunego fell off leaving Contador, Voeckler, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, and Samuel Sanchez fighting for GC time. At the summit it was Contador, Evans, and Sanchez. On the descent into Gap, Cadel Evans (who is a former mtb world champion) attacked and was the fastest on a narrow, and wet and slippery, road but managed to add only 3 seconds to his lead over Contador; Contador gained time on the Schlecks.

How the GC contenders figured in the stage:

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo at 3:31:38

11 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:04:23
12 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:04:26
13 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
18 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:04:44
22 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
23 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD
28 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:05:02
30 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:05:17

Damiano Cunego was satisfied with his performance saying, "I knew that the climb not so far from the finish and the downhill could have been suitable for attacks, so I was willing to pedal in the head position of the group and my team mates performed a fantastic job in supporting me in obtaining this position. In the downhill the crash of Roy slowed me, it's a pity because my target was to join Evans".

Top 10 GC:
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 69:00:56
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:45
3 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:01:49
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:03:03
5 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:03:26
6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:03:42
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:49
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:04:01
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:06:04
10 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:07:55

Top 10 GC after stage 15, Sunday:
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 65:24:34
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:01:49
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:02:06
4 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:15
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:16
6 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:03:44
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:04:00
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:04:01
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:05:46
10 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:06:18

Stage 17, Wednesday:

The TdF official analysis of this stage (which enters Italy): "There are still four intense race days left. Heading to Briançon, the road rises gently. Then the riders must cross climb the Col de Montgenèvre, descend, then climb again up to Sestrières this time, then descend again into Pinerolo. Ahead of them is still the Pra Martino, a small climb that’s 7km long and of modest gradient. A rider who is good in the mountains such as Cadel Evans may well be able to make an impression there, because the final run-in, which enables tribute to be made to the 150th anniversary of Italian unification, doesn’t feature any notable difficulties. This stage will bring huge satisfaction to the people of Pinerolo, who for many years have been keen to host a stage finish. The town is near to the border and offers the opportunity for this year’s only incursion into foreign territory.”

Andy Schleck has criticized the 8 km Pramartino descent saying, "That's ridiculous. It looks like a bike path across a wood. I trained three times in the descent and I already felt it too risky, mortally dangerous." Here is a youtube video of the descent:

Photo: Bettini

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