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2011 Tour de France Stage 16 Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux -> Gap

July 20, 2011

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The stage was the first in the Alps of this year, and it was definitely interesting. For once, the favorites really got into it, something that we have seen before, thanks to the two-pronged attack of the Schlecks on Contador. However, it didn’t work out as planned, as this time around, Contador was relentless in his attacks. He failed a bunch of times before succeeding in getting away. Evans and Sanchez were hot on his wheel while Andy Schleck dropped back to the peloton. His brother Frank paced the Leopard Trek boys home. It was a disaster for Leopard Trek, and an all out win for BMC, as Evans sped away from even Contador in the last few kilometers of this stage. The GC has barely changed, but this bodes well for this week. The favorites seem to have forgotten that Voeckler has the maillot jaune and will continue to wear it with a good lead.

Today’s stage goes into the Alps. The whole stage is mostly uphill. The stage is 162.5km in length. The finish is downhill, after going uphill on the Col de Manse, a cat 2 climb. The descent is quite precarious. There was a famous crash one year when Lance Armstrong rode cross country to get clear.

None of the early breakaways have been successful. The attacks have been incessant.

There is a crash. It’s Duque and he’s a Cofidis rider. He was in the breakaway. He was looking over his shoulder and was catapulted over the handlebars.

With 96.4km, and Duque was part of that breakaway that was forming in the front of the peloton. He takes his time to get organized.

Uran (Sky) earned the lead in the White Jersey comp of the best young rider. The peloton is flying. The speed was about 51kph.

Vino announced his retirement from cycling and sent an emotional message to his team.

Greipel has a wheel change. He rejoins the peloton.

Westra makes a breakaway and has a 8-second lead over the peloton. Westra is caught and then goes off again. Hesjedal (Garmin Cervelo) rides across the gap and rides clear of him. He’s got a lead of a few seconds.

With 80.8km, the break includes Marcato (Vacansoleil), Roy (FDJ), Hesjedal (Garmin Cervelo), Knees and Boasson Hagen (Sky), Kreuziger and Di Gregorio (Astana), Nicholas Roche (AG2R), Molema (Rabobank), Jeanneson (FDJ), and Hoogerland (Vacansoleil). The breakaway has 13 riders.

They go through the feeding zone and are approaching the sprint.

Since Jeanneson is in the breakaway, the Sky team has been told to chase the breakaway because their rider Uran leads the White Jersey comp.

Di Gregorio, Roy, and a Cofidis rider manage to get away from them. Duque is making his way back to the peloton. He’s leap frogging across the gaps between the team cars.

The breakaway has split but it was never that organized and never had much time. It’s started to rain.

Now Rojas has joined the breakaway. This means that HTC will have to chase it down. The lead has never been more than a few seconds.

With 60.8km, the lead is 30″. Hushovd is in the breakaway. Perez (Euskaltel Euskadi), Hushovd (Garmin Cervelo), Hesjedal (Garmin Cervelo), Grivko (Astana), Boasson Hagen (Sky), Roy (FDJ), Devenys (Quick Step), Martin (HTC), Ignatiev (Katousha), and Marcato (Vacansoleil).

The lead is 55″. There is a chase group 20″ behind.

With 55.7km, the lead is 1:22. The pace in the peloton has slowed. The lead is going up.

At 54.2km, the lead is 2:07. The sprint is in 10km. At 49km, the lead is 4:43.

Dumoulin (Cofidis), Mollema (Rabobank), and Jeandesboz (Saur Sojasun) are the three riders in the chase group. They are 1:52 behind the leaders.

The rain has stopped. The lead is 5:09 with 47.5km left. At 46km, the lead is 5:57. The breakaway and the chase will nab up almost all of the points in the Green Jersey comp.

Hushovd has got 192pts. Cav has got 316pts. There was no sprint for the points. The peloton doesn’t sprint either. AG2R is in the front of the pack.

It’s started raining again. There are 33.5km left, and the lead is 6:09. The chase group is dropping back. Dumoulin has gone back to the peloton.

With 23.3 left, the peloton has swept up the chase group. Ignatiev is trying to ride away from the break. Hushovd is on his tail.

With 21km to go, the leaders have started the climb of the Col de Manse, a 9.5km cat 2 climb, with an average gradient of 5.2%.

Ignatiev attacks again. The peloton is 5:54 behind. Devenys joins him. Perez tried as well, but couldn’t keep the pace. Ignatiev is still by himself. Devenys is not far behind.

BMC has come to the front and is doing a lot of pacing. The lead is still 6:01. Leopard Trek is also there.

The chase group is almost upon Ignatiev. The pace isn’t blistering, but it’s fast enough to catch Ignatiev at some point in time. Hushovd is also a spectacular descender.

Hesjedal is trying to ride across the gap to join Ignatiev. The pace forces riders off the peloton.

The gap is 20″. Boasson Hagen is trying to ride away. Hushovd sees it and goes after him.

Back in the peloton, Contador makes a move. He used a bend and is away. He has got a gap. Cancellara and Leopard Trek aree right after. Voeckler come across the chasing group and they join back up to him. Contador doesn’t let up and they start riding away.

Sanchez uses this and starts to ride further away after Contador drops back. Evans, the Schlecks, Voeckler, Contador are all there. Andy Schleck starts to make a move, but it’s to no avail. They are caught.

Hernandez (Saxo Bank) is trying get away. He’s caught. Now, Navarro (Saxo Bank) is at the front.

Jeanneson is trying to race off from the peloton. There are 12.6km left and the lead is 5:06.

Danielson is trying get on Jeanneson’s back.

Contador makes another move. He’s followed by Voeckler. Andy Schleck follows them. They are caught again.

Hesjedal comes up the summit first. He starts the descent. Hushovd and Boasson Hagen are there.

Contador rides away. Evans goes after followed by Sanchez. Schleck can’t follow. He’s allowed Contador to fly ahead. Voeckler is with Schleck.

Hushovd and Boassen Hagen catch Hesjedal. The road is almost dry.

Contador attacks again. Frank Schleck is doing the pacing for Andy.

Contador is out of his seat, dancing away. They are over the summit.

There are 7.3km left.

Tony Martin is 36″ behind the leaders. Hesjedal is flying down the descent.

The road becomes wet again but then dries out. Contador has about 30″ over the peloton. Voeckler is at the front, gaining a few seconds.

Hushovd tries to get away from Boassen Hagen, but he doesn’t. There are 2.4km left.

Roux crashes in a corner but he gets back up and rides away.

Contador and Evans are distancing Sanchez.

1.3km left. The leaders are still together. Hushovd makes a feint, and then uses the blind corner to get way from Boassen Hagen. He wins the stage. Boassen Hagen is 2nd. Hesjedal is 3rd. Martin is 4th.

Ignatiev is 5th.

Evans made it away from Contador. Sanchez and Contador have to work together.

Perez and Roy finish. Marcato, Devenys, and Grivko finish.

Voeckler is joined by Gilbert. He’s being chased by Frank Schleck.

Evans is racing for 11th place, but he’s really racing for time. Evans finishes 5″ ahead of Contador. Voeckler is close by.

Voeckler has taken more time on the Schlecks.

Evans has 22″ on Voeckler. He’s got over a minute over the Schlecks.

Evans has got 3″ over Contador. Voeckler finished 21″ later. Frank Schleck finished in the same group. Andy Schleck finished over 1:11 after Evans.

1. Voeckler
2. Evans +1:45
3. F. Schleck +1:49
4. Andy Schleck +3:03
5. Sanchez +3:26
6. Contador +3:42
7. Basso +3:49
8. Cunego +4:01
9. Danielson +6:04
10. Uran +7:55

Voeckler still retains the Yellow Jersey. He’s got a good lead over the main favorites. There are only a few more stages left for the favorites to make their move.

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