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Mechanics and riders fine-tune Tour de France gear
Greetings all, welcome to coverage from stage 16 of the race, a big mountain stage from Martigny in Switzerland to Boug St Maurice in France, dipping into Italy along the way. There's just two climbs today but they dominate the profile, with the Hors Categorie 2,473 metre high Cold du Grand Saint Bernard being followed by the Category 1 Col du Petit Saint Bernard. This is also a big, big climb, being 2,188 metres in height.
The summits are 54 and 128 kilometres after the start. The first of these climbs sees the riders head uphill almost immediately after the start; that's going to cause some big problems for riders, particularly after the rest day. Even with the riders heading out on their bikes to keep the legs moving, returning to racing after a day off can be tough.
Anyway, it promises to be a very interesting stage, with (we hope) plenty of action. Make sure to come back here for the start proper of the coverage; that'll be in about 45 minutes or so.
And they are off! The riders are rolling out for the start of the 16th stage of this Tour de France. They are in the neutralised section at the moment, cruising along. The jersey wearers were at the front as they moved away, with Alberto Contador looking happy in yellow.
Although this is neutralised, the riders will know that a steady start is unlikely; breaks will want to get away early today, especially as it is a short stage, and also the climbing begins almost immediately. This start is somewhat like the stage from Andorra - and we all know how that went! Plenty of attacks, Cadel Evans going clear early on, the race going nuclear for a while.
If Evans or anyone else wanted to try the same trick, they'd arguably have a better chance today. There are very few flat roads on this stage - it's either up, or down. A good climber/descender wouldn't need a huge amount of help.
Ok, the flag drops...they are underway for real now. No attacks just yet.
First attack, almost immediately! An Agritubel and Cervelo rider clip away...no real reaction as yet. Another rider goes after them.
Other riders are trying to bridge.
Jens Voigt is here, while meanwhile last year's race winner Carlos Sastre is sitting last man in the bunch.
Sastre wasn't particularly happy yesterday - you can read about it here: www.cyclingnews.com/news/sastre-blasts-the-press-for-disrespect He said on his Twitter feed last night that a friend had brought him some chocolate and he was having some to help the morale. We hope he can motivate himself, as Carlos is normally a great attacker in the final week.
We can understand his frustration, in ways - he really hasn't got much attention as the Tour winner. Oscar Pereiro, who won the race thanks to a long break and then the disqualification of Floyd Landis, seemed to have got more coverage than Sastre did in the past year.
There are many riders ahead...bear with us while we get the names together. Voigt and Pellizotti are there...however Voigt is sitting up momentarily as his team-mate Fabian Cancellara is coming across with Martijn Maaskant (Garmin Slipstream).
Astana are chasing. Contador comes up alongside Armstrong and appears to give him a tap on the A$$ to let him in behind him - he looks a lot more assertive today than before, when he appeared almost like a nervous junior rider.
Armstrong smiles at the camera.
The Astana train is chugging along. It is 39" behind this large break..names coming up.
The leaders are working well together and are already 1'57" clear. They are Franco Pellizotti, Aleksandr Kuschinsky (Liquigas), Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Heinrich Haussler, Hayden Roulston (Cervélo Test Team), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank), Martijn Maaskant (Garmin Slipstream), Egoi Martinez, Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel Euskadi), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), David Moncoutie (Cofidis), Pierrick Fedrigo, Pierre Rolland (Bouygues Telecom), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), Maxime Bouet (Agritubel), Peter Velits (Milram), Simon Geschke (Skil-Shimano).
What's interesting is the presence of three Cervelo Test Team riders in this move. Does that suggest Sastre is going to go all out on this climb and try to get across to them (or possibly to do likeweise on the next climb)?
Perhaps not..Sastre still sits at the back of the peloton. Maybe he'll click into gear later on.
Pelizotti attacks, and is joined by Karpets. Hmm...we didn't have him in the original list, but he's there all right.
Back in the bunch, Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacks.
Now more attacks going on...this climb is putting the pressure on early.
Several riders are being dropped already, including Mark Cavendish (Columbia HTC). Up front, Pellizotti, Karpets and Martinez are clear. They still have 20km to go to the top of the climb! It's a long one...
Even though it's summer, there's plenty of snow on the surrounding peaks. Nice and sunny below, though.
Arrieta is being joined by several others, but they are just ahead of the peloton.
Cavendish is fighting back, and is hanging just off the end of the peloton.
Many other riders are going clear of the peloton. Up front, Pellizotti and Karpets have dropped Martinez.
Hmm...Haussler has gone back to the peloton. Meanwhile Samuel Dumoulin (Cofids) is heading south.
There's a large group of riders perhaps five seconds ahead of the Astana-led peloton. The main break is much further ahead.
David Millar is in this group that's just ahead of the bunch.
They are caught... Other riders are trying to get clear. Astana is either unwilling or unable to keep this all together.
16km to the top for Karpets and Pellizotti! Karpets is doing a lot of the work.
Karpets is beardless in this Tour. He's won some good races in the past, including the Tour de Suisse. He's on Swiss soil so is clearly inspired by the country.
There are twelve chasers further down the mountain, but the peloton is coming back up to them. Up front, Pellizotti and Karpets are 3'05" clear of the Astana group, with their former breakaway companions inbetween.
Sounds like the tension persists between Garmin Slipstream and Columbia HTC. Matt White is quoted on the Tour's own website as saying, “I'm not here to keep Brian Holm happy. We are here to do our race and get the best possible result. I don't really care what he has to say about our tactics."
Sastre is still near the back of the peloton. We can only presume that his morale is bad, or else he is unwell.
Sastre may prefer to get going gradually - we have seen that before. The danger is that if any good moves go clear on this climb, he'll be too far back to be involved. And if the bunch splits, he'll have a lot of chasing to do.
Also, sometimes riders feel bad at the start and then feel stronger than usual at the end...it's a peculiar physiological thing. Greg LeMond was suffereing hugely in the 1989 world championshps and considered pulling out, but persisted... He said afterwards that he felt very, very strong towards the end of the race.
Karpets and Pellizotti are 1'45 ahead of their previous breakaway companions. They are in a long sheltered section, which protects the road from avalanches.
The The gap is now 1'39". The Col du Grand Saint Bernard is 24.4 km long and averages 6.2%. The Col du Petit Saint Bernard is slightly shorter and less steep, being 22.6 kilometres long and 5.1%.
There are two bonus sprints today, at Sarre (km 78.5) and Pre Saint Didier (km 106). They are in the valley between the two climbs...well, actually, the second of these is at an altitude of 1.052 metres. As we said, there's very little flat today.
This morning, the points classification looked like this:
1, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) 218 pts
2, Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia - HTC) 200
3, Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) 126
Cavendish has pretty much conceded defeat after his disqualification several days ago...he feels he was harshly treated, Hushovd says otherwise.
Meanwhile Pellizotti is set to boost his lead over Martinez - this morning, there was eight points between them. But with he and Karpets having dropped the Euskaltel Euskadi rider, it seems clear who is climbing better.
1, Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas) 109 pts
2, Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel – Euskadi) 101
3, Pierrick Fedrigo (BBOX Bouygues Telecom) 65
Ouch..former white jersey wearer Tony Martin is dropped. Columbia HTC rider Michael Rogers is with him.
Up front, the Astana train is being followed by several Garmin Slipstream riders, amongst them Christian Vande Velde and Bradley Wiggins.
Also being dropped - a group containing Linus Gerdemann (Milram) and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team), the green jersey wearer.
Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer says: Two years ago, Linus Gerdemann stormed to a solo win on the Grand Bernard stage of the Tour de France and took over the yellow jersey. Now riding as the captain of Team Milram, the German would love to repeat that success. “I have very good memories of Le-Grand-Bernard, he told the dpa news agency. “So I am especially motivated and want to do my best.”
The Tour so far has not gone as he would have hoped. Going into today's stage, Gerdemann was 24th overall, 8:20 back. He is not even the best Milram rider, as teammate Peter Velits is in 23rd place.
Several riders from the original break have now been caught by the peloton, including Cancellara. The rest of the chase group is 1'25" behind the two leaders, but the peloton is just two minutes back now. Popovych is leading that group.
Moncoutie has been caught now.
Upwards, ever upwards. We mentioned already that the former white jersey Tony Martin is in trouble. The current leader of that best young rider classification might also be under pressure; Andy Schleck is near the back of the peloton. His Saxo Bank team-mate Cancellara is being dropped now.
Irish road race champion Nicolas Roche (Ag2r la Mondiale) is in a chase group.
Up front, Karpets leads Pellizotti...this road goes on and on...
Roche actually bridged across to the Voigt led chase group, which is 1'14" back. The peloton is 1'54" down.
The two leaders went over the top of the climb a short while ago and are on the descent.
As expected, Pellizotti took the points there from Karpets. Fedrigo jumped from the chase group to get third. The Astana peloton was 2'03" back going over the top.
This descent is long and twisting....sweeping bends with (fortunately) guardrails.
Cancellara chases back on on this downhill...he's really very good on these sections.
World champion Alessandro Ballan also chases back on...
Contador sits fifth wheel on this downhill, staying out of trouble. It's very fast but the road surface is good...
Pellizotti and Karpets are 1'31 ahead of the chasers, with the peloton 2'35 back at this point. Those in front need to try to eke out a bigger lead before the final climb.
Irish champion Nicolas Roche sits at the back of the chase group, gobbling some food. He said before the stage that he planned to attack and has done so.
This first sprint is after the bottom of the descent, and is followed by the feedzone.... Today's stage is not particularly long but it's important to keep the energy levels up, especially in the mountains.
Wow...a rider threw away a bottle, it hit guardrail and bounced back into the bunch, sliding along the road. Fortunately nobody hit it..
Unlike the other day, when his team-mate had the yellow jersey, Roche is working today as this chase group tries to get up to the leaders. He got a lot of grief from certain riders in the break, but couldn't really work as his team-mate Nocentini was in yellow.
The Italian held on by just five seconds so, as Roche said afterwards, if he had pulled even a few times that could have lost yellow for the team.
Susan Westemeyer tells us that a search was carried out today:
Swiss customs officials stopped and searched an Astana team truck today. Team spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed to the German news agency dpa that the search lasted three hours, but that nothing suspicious was found.
Pellizotti and Karpets thunder onwards, widening their lead over the Contador group/peloton to 4'47". The Italian takes the sprint in Sarre - they didn't contest it between them. The large chase group is still between the leaders and the peloton - we'll try to get a time gap.
Verdugo took third in the bonus sprint. There's a big gap between each of the groups now, with things consolodating on this flatter section.
The Voigt chase group is 1'44 back, while the peloton is at 5'14".
Pierre Rolland (BBox Bouygues Telecom) is in no man's land between the second group and the Astana-led peloton. He's got some wonderful architecture to look at here in Italy, but his focus will be on the road ahead.
Pellizotti and Karpets know that the hammer will go down on the next climb, which is the last of the day. They need a big buffer to ensure they go over the top ahead.
* * * * *
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Vladimir Karpets (Katusha)
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel Euskadi), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Peter Velits (Milram), Mikel Astarloza, Anton (Euskaltel), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel), Yury Trofimov (Bbox), Nicolas Roche, Stephane Goubert (AG2R), at 1:51
Peloton at 4:59
Grupetto at ??
The road gets gradually more steep from this point...it notches upwards gradually to the start of the climb.
The peloton is in the feedzone, 4'56 back. Thus far, things are under control for Contador.
With Verdugo, Astarloza and Anto in the chase group, Euskaltel Euskadi have a good representation. This could come in handy if things get tactical.
Wow...Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) nearly got clattered by Johannes Frohlinger (Milram). The latter was drinking from his bottle and then hurled it across the road to his right, just as Barredo was rolling by him...
Five minutes for the break. The chasers are still trying to get across...it's taking quite a while. There's plenty of strong riders in here, but a group this size isn't always the most efficient or committed.
Contador's team leads as they speed past a sculpture of Maurice Garin, the 1903 Tour de France winner. The Garmin squad of Wiggins and Vande Velde sit behind them, keeping their leaders out of trouble.
Jens Voigt is having a bit more luck than on stage 14. He punctured out of the break then, getting a bad wheel change and thus being unable to rejoin.
1'04 for his group, while the main field is 4'39 back now.
There's long, straight sections here...the chase group should start to see the leaders soon if they get a little closer. That will spur them on. But if things go ballistic behind, the gap won't be enough... They need to put the hammer down soon and build a buffer.
The leaders are about to be joined by the others...
Heading towards the climb, the leading group has 4'23". Not sure that will be enough...depends on what happens behind. If the GC contenders throw down the hammer, the gap will come back quickly. We expect the lead group will split on the early slopes, with the strongest climbers pushing on ahead and trying to keep as much time as possible.
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) returns to the peloton after a puncture.
* * * * *
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel Euskadi), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Pierrick Fedrigo, Laurent Lefeve (Bouygues Telecom), Peter Velits (Milram), Mikel Astarloza, Igor Anton (Euskaltel), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel), Yury Trofimov (Bbox), Nicolas Roche, Stephane Goubert (AG2R)
Peloton at 4:08
Grupetto at 11:00
So, prior to the start of the category one Col du Petit Saint Bernard, here's the lead group: Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Cervelo Test Team), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank), Gorka Verdugo, Mikel Astarloza, Igor Anton (Euskaltel Euskadi), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Pierrick Fedrigo, Laurent Lefeve (Bouygues Telecom), Peter Velits (Milram), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel), Yury Trofimov (Bbox), Nicolas Roche, Stephane Goubert (AG2R). There's eighteen riders there.
They are now on the climb. Roche took the second bonus sprint ahead of Vogondy and Verdugo. They are 4'23 ahead. This climb is crucial for the break, needless to say.
The break continues up the climb, while riders such as Cancellara are being shed by the peloton.
Maxime Monfort has been dropped - his Columbia HTC team-mate Michael Rogers is waiting for him.
Dmitry Muravyev has gone back to the doctor's car to get ointment put on his knee...obviously it's troubling him.
Meanwhile Sebastian Lang (Silence Lotto) has jumped out of the peloton. Is he getting ready for an Evans attack?
Lefevre has now attacked out of the break! He's trying to get to the top ahead of the others, realising that they need to gain time on the peloton.
14.7km to the top...Lefevre has a slight lead, but they are coming back to him.
Saxo Bank to the front of the peloton! Getting things ready for a Schleck move, methinks...
Lefevre ha s been joined by Pellizotti and Trofimov. Meanwhile the heavier riders Voigt and Roche are slipping back somewhat.
There's a flatter section and the break has regrouped, wtih Roche up there again. They are going through the town of La Thuile.
Van Den Broeck and Pellizotti are leading the first part of the break, which is splitting again.
Meanwhile, Menchov has been dropped. He's a shadow of the rider who won the Giro. Moncoutie is also blown, as is Tony Martin.
Under Van Den Broeck's pressure, this break has split.
Van Den Broeck pulls over, finally, and Fedrigo goes through. The break is shrinking. So too the peloton - Saxo Bank are really ramping up the pace.
The break is now just 3'24 ahead...might not be enough...
Tony Martin and David Millar have been dropped...
The Contador group is down to about 30 riders...no attacks as yet, but Saxo Bank are driving the pace along.
Moinard now attacks...this break is more or less together still...thinned out a bit, but no major gaps.
Just 2'54 now... Chris Anker Soerenson drives the pace.
Up front, Pellizotti and Van Den Broeck push on ahead, followed by Moinard. Arrieta is just behind, with the others within shouting distance.
Pellizotti and Van Den Broeck are now pulling well clear of the others...it's getting steeper here, and much more open too.
Pellizotti and Van den Broeck are opening up a big gap on the chasing group, which is getting smaller and smaller as this climb goes on.
Moinard and Marchante are chasing the other two.
Behind, Andy Schleck attacks! A few others are there, but not Armstrong...
Schleck pushes on with Contador, while Wiggins is just behind them. Both Schlecks are there, Frank setting the pace. Kloden is there, while Evans and Armstrong have been dropped and are quite far back.
That group contains Alberto Contador and Andreas Kloeden (Astana), Andy and Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas). Armstrong's group is 34" back now...
Astaraloza is coming across to Pellizotti and Van Den Broeck... Contador's group is 2'11 back, while Armstrong's group is 47" down.
Armstrong has jumped from that other group...
Armstrong jumped out of the group and is trying to bridge. Kim Kirchen (Columbia HTC) has got up to him.
Armstrong jumped again, but has been caught by Vande Velde and Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne). They are pushing onwards.
Armstrong is riding very strongly now...he's dropped the others, and has gone past Frank Schleck, who was dropped.
Now Wiggins attacks, pushing on. Contador marks him. Armstrong is now back up with the others. That group is Contador, Armstrong, Kloden, Wiggins, Nibali and the two Schlecks.
The Contador group have caught several others who were in the break, including Voigt. They are now just 2'17 back...
The leaders on the road are: Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Amael Moinard (Cofidis) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi).
They are going over the top, with Pellizotti, Van Den Broeck, Astarloza and Moinard crossing in that order.
There are several others inbetween, then 2'04 back a large group containing Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloeden (Astana), Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipistream), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank) and Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne went over the top.
So the climb wasn't as decisive as we might have thought...the Schlecks split the group, but then backed off a little.
The four leaders push onwards, holding a lead of 1'55" over the Contador group. Several others from the original break are inbetween.
They have 25km to go...
Damn...Voigt went down on the descent...couldn't see why that happened. He hit the road, the cars behind jammed on and stopped in time. No idea how he is, or why he fell.
He may have had a front tyre blowout. The Saxo Bank riders seem to have had quite a few punctures.
The Contador group are now 1'31 back...others have got up to them.
Here's the update on things:
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Amael Moinard (Cofidis) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
Pierrick Fedrigo (BBOX Bouygues Telecom), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale), Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) at 0.12
Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloeden (Astana), Andy and Frank Schleck and Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Bradley Wiggins, David Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipistream), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Laurens ten Dam (Rabobank), Nicolas Roche (AG2R) and Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo), Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Christophe Le Mevel (Française des Jeux) at 1.22
So it looks like the stage win will be between the first eight riders.. Marchante was also there but he crashed out of the chasing group.
The Contador group is 1'18" back...surely too much to close?
The second chase group is now 15" back...
The four leaders are holding off the chasers for now....can they get across? Roche is a fast finisher if they do....but it's still 14"...
The leading quartet might be waiting for the chasers...not sure why, but they are not pushing as hard.
Looks very much like the win will come out of the eight riders up front...four leaders now, with four chasers ten seconds back. The leaders are working well again... The peloton is 1'05" back.
Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Amael Moinard (Cofidis) and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi) are now just a handful of seconds ahead of Pierrick Fedrigo (BBOX Bouygues Telecom), Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Stéphane Goubert (AG2R La Mondiale) and Nicolas Roche (Ag2r La Mondiale) .
They are about to join them....
Still a small gap between them...it will be close...
Moinard attacked...he's caught...
Astarloza goes now....he's got a big gap....
Astarloza is flying along....he's going to get it... The others have joined up...
He gets it...looks like Casar or Fedrigo got second, with Roche fourth... The Contador group came in 59" back....
So Astarloza gets it, six seconds ahead of Casar, Fedrigo, Roche and the others.. Moreau led Contador in, 59" back.
Cadel Evans has just finished in a big group, 3'54" down.. Wow...he's lost more time today. Hard luck to the Aussie.
Here's the top six:
Stage 16, Martigny – Boug St. Maurice:
1 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 159km in 4.14.20
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 0.06
3 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
4 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - Lotto
6 Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
Okay, we got word on Jens Voigt's condition - he's got injuries to his head, face and shoulders, and is being taken to hospital. However he never lost consciousness. We hope he has a speedy recovery.
Denis Menchov has just finished, well over ten minutes down...he's really not the rider he was at the Giro.
Here's the new top 20:
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 67:33:15
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:01:37
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:46
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:02:17
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:26
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:02:51
7 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux 0:03:09
8 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:03:25
9 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:03:52
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0:03:59
11 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:04:38
12 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 0:04:40
13 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC 0:05:05
14 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:26
15 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 0:05:40
16 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 0:05:56
17 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto 0:07:23
18 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:08:23
19 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:09:14
20 Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 0:10:00
So it was a good day's racing, even if it wasn't as decisive as it might have been. When the two Schlecks went they put a lot of riders out the back, including Armstrong, but they backed off a little and there was a regrouping.
Tomorrow's stage is arguably the hardest in the race, even if it doesn't finish on a climb. There are five mountains, four of which are category one climbs. Make sure to join us for live coverage of what could be a very important day on the Tour; before then, you can get a full report and results here shortly, as well as all the Tour news.
Thanks for reading!