Mikel Astarloza was the winner of stage 16 of the Tour de France but the gut-busting ride by Lance Armstrong to stay in touch with yellow jersey wearer and Astana team mate Alberto Contador was the biggest of the day’s results.
The breakaway in the first ten kilometres of the 159km stage 16 from Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice contained more than twenty riders, building a lead around two minutes. Italian Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas and Russian Vladimir Karpets of Team Katusha then jumped the breakaway, cresting the Great Saint Bernard Pass – the first of two huge climbs – 2:03 ahead of the rest of the leading pack and around five minutes ahead of the peloton.
Pellizotti and Karpets were caught by the breakaway group with 60km left to ride and the Little Saint Bernard Pass between them and the finish line. Pellizotti then kicked ahead again with Belgian Jurgen Van Den Broeck of Silence-Lotto, later joined by Frenchman Amael Moinard of Cofidis and Spaniard Mikel Astarloza of Euskaltel-Euskadi, and it was this foursome which eventually contested the stage win, with Astarloza coming out in front.
Meanwhile, back in the peloton the Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy, lead an attack with yellow jersey wearer Alberto Contador joining them, with Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans among the contenders who didn’t immediately respond.
However, in the biggest move of the day, Armstrong then took it upon himself to bridge the significant gap between the main peloton and the Contador group, bringing back memories of his seven straight Tour de France wins with an impressive riding performance.
Stage 16 results
1 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 159km in 4.14.20
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 6 seconds behind
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
Top 20 of general classification after stage 16
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 67:33:15
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 1:37
3 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 1:46
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 2:17
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 2:26
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 2:51
7 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des Jeux 3:09
8 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 3:25
9 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 3:52
10 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Slipstream 3:59
11 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 4:38
12 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 4:40
13 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia – HTC 5:05
14 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 5:26
15 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux 5:40
16 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 5:56
17 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto 7:23
18 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 8:23
19 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 9:14
20 Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 10:00
Lance Armstrong recovers from tire trouble
Lance Armstrong avoided disaster in Thursday’s 12th stage of the Tour de France after puncturing a back wheel tire with just 37 miles left in the 131-mile ride from Tonnerre to Vittel.
Armstrong was still third overall and riding comfortably in the main pack when a wheel-flat forced the seven-time Tour champion to the side of road for repairs as the pack sped away to Vittel.
Fortunately for Armstrong, his Astana teammates were right there to replace the punctured tire and help Armstrong catch up without suffering a significant loss.
“It is stressful with the crashes, on a stage like this where you have nothing to gain and then you lose everything because of a crash or a split in the group,” Armstrong had warned before the start of the stage. “You have to pay attention and try to avoid a crash.”
That is just what Armstrong did, despite the perilous puncture to his tire on the stage’s final stretch. Armstrong remains in third, eight seconds off the lead of Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini, with the famous Alps mountain stages approaching.
Armstrong has historically excelled in the Alps, and is well within striking distance to overtake the yellow jersey.
Armstrong’s teammate and budding rival Alberto Contador of Spain stayed in second place overall, six seconds off the lead.
Nicki Sorensen of Demark won the stage for his first individual win at the Tour, finishing 48 seconds ahead of France’s Laurent Lefevre.
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July 15, 2009: Tour de France: Vatan – Saint Fargeau (192 km):
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC 04:17:55
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
3 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux
4 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
7 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
8 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
10 Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha
11 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre – NGC
12 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
13 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
14 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
15 Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
16 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
17 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
18 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano
19 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
20 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Lampre – NGC