After 3,001.5km of racing the top five of the general classification is:
1. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC
2. Frank Schleck (LUX) CSC - at 1’24"
3. Bernhard Kohl (AUT) GST - at 1’33"
4. Cadel Evans (AUS) SIL - at 1’34"
5. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB - at 2’39"
The top 10 in the 17th stage is:
1. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC - 210.5km in 6h’07’58" (34.323km/h)
2. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS - at 2’03"
3. Andy Schleck (LUX) CSC at 2’03"
4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE - at 2’13"
5. Frank Schleck (LUX) CSC - at 2’13"
6. Vladimir Efimkin (RUS) ALM - at 2’15"
7. Cadel Evans (AUS) SIL - at 2’15"
8. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB - at 2’15"
9. Christian Vande Velde (USA) GAR - at 2’15"
10. Bernhard Kohl (AUT) GST - at 2’15"
The yellow jersey will go to Carlos Sastre after the 17th stage of the 2008 Tour de France. Frank Schleck finished about 2’15" behind his team-mate. He will surrender the lead of the stage to the Spanish CSC team leader.
Sanchez has been caught by Andy Schleck in the final kilometer of the stage. These two are going to battle it out for second place.
Carlos Sastre has won the 17th stage. He attacked in the first kilometer of the Alpe d’Huez climb. This is his second stage victory in the Tour de France (after his win at Ax-3 Domane in 2003). He will be the new leader of the Tour de France.
Sanchez (EUS) has attacked the yellow jersey and is now racing for second place in the 17th stage. He is over 2 minutes behind Sastre.
Evans has been leading the yellow jersey’s group for most of the last part of the climb. Menchov has just come through to do a small turn but there’s no way they’re going to catch Sastre who is 1km from the finish.
Sastre is less than 2km from the finish of the 17th stage. He is going to give CSC its second stage win this year and become the second rider from the team to wear the yellow jersey.
Valverde’s surge didn’t last long. Now Evans is back in front of the group that includes: Evans, Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Efimkin, Menchov, Kohl, Valverde and Vande Velde. They are 2’20" behind Sastre with 3km to go.
Evans has been at the front of the yellow jersey’s group for a kilometer but he has now been attacked by Valverde who has been chased down by Frank Schleck.
Sastre is just 3km from the finish. He is leading the yellow jersey’s group by 2’10". The Spaniard is going to win the stage and take the yellow jersey off his team-mate, Frank Schleck. At this rate he’ll be the seventh rider to lead the 95th Tour de France...
Cadel Evans is leading the group that’s composed of: Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Goubert, Efimkin, Valjavec, Sanchez, Menchov, Kohl, Valverde and Vande Velde. They are 4km from the line and Sastre is leading by about 800m.
Valverde has attacked the yellow jersey group of nine. It is a surge that has reeled in Efimkin and Andy Schleck.
Efimkin, the rider who finished second in Bagnere-de-Bigorre (behind the dubious Mr Ricco) has attacked the yellow jersey’s group. He has been followed by Andy Schleck.
The stage leader is only building on his advantage. With 4.3km to go he has an advantage of 2’10" on the 11-man chase group.
Sastre now has a minute lead in the general classification. He is 5km from the finish and 1’50" ahead of Evans, Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Goubert, Efimkin, Valjavec, Sanchez, Menchov, Kohl, Valverde and Vande Velde.
Sastre is now 1’35" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group. He was 49" behind Frank Schleck in the general classification at the start of the stage. If the Spaniard continues at this rate he will be the seven leader of the 2008 Tour de France.
There are now 11 riders in the group that’s 1’35" behind Sastre. The riders in the yellow jersey group are: Evans, Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Goubert, Efimkin, Valjavec, Sanchez, Menchov, Kohl, Valverde and Vande Velde.
Evans has come to the front of the yellow jersey’s group which is 1’00" behind Sastre with about 7km to go in the 17th stage. Menchov has returned to the elite selection with 6.7km to go.
Vande Velde is the latest rider from the yellow jersey’s group to attack. He hasn’t been able to gain any time on Schleck. Kohl has been dropped momentarily but is fighting his way back.
Efimkin has attacked the yellow jersey’s group and Andy Schleck is the first to respond. Menchov is coming back to this elite selection.
If Sastre continues at his current rate, he will claim the yellow jersey. He began the stage 49" behind Schleck. His advantage now is 55"...
Andy Schleck as attacked the yellow jersey’s group. He has caught an earlier surge by Goubert. They lead: Evans, Frank Schleck, Vande Velde, Valverde, Efimkin and Sanchez and Kohl.
Sastre is still well in the lead of the stage. The last time check had him 48" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group which has just acquired Sanchez, Goubert and Valjavec.
Frank, Andy and Alejandro have been caught by Evans and Vande Velde and Kohl and now Efimkin.
Valverde is now leading the Schleck brothers in an attack.
Frank, Andy, Cadel, Christian, Bernhard, Alejandro, Vladimir, Stephane and Tadej are the riders in the yellow jersey’s group.
There are nine riders in the yellow jersey’s group which is less than 10km from the finish. They are 45" behind Sastre and 50" ahead of Menchov.
Andy is now chatting to his brother who has been following Evans while their team-mate Sastre is pushing on to try and win the stage. He has a lead of 28" with 10km to go. There are seven in the yellow jersey’s group.
Andy has chased down Efimkin and this two has been joined by Vande Velde. Frank Schleck is following Kohl, Valverde and Evans. They are 27" behind Sastre.
Sastre has a lead of 21" on the yellow jersey’s group that is now being attacked by Efimkin.
The riders in the yellow jersey’s group are: Evans, Schleck, Schleck, Kohl, Valverde and Vande Velde...
Schleck has attacked Evans but the Australian has responded by counter-attacking. There are six in the yellow jersey’s group. Sastre is 20" ahead of this group.
Kohl is now setting the pace of the yellow jersey’s group. Sastre is 14" ahead and Menchov is at 20".
Menchov is now at the back of the yellow jersey’s peloton. The stage continues to be led by Sastre who is 10" ahead of Schleck and Evans and co.
Pineau did a lot of work to get in the lead of the stage but he has been dropped by the yellow jersey’s group already.
Sastre has burst into the lead of the stage. He is being pursued by Mario Aerts. Kohl is in the lead of the yellow jersey’s group.
Sastre has caught Pineau at the front of the stage.
Kirchen, Vogondy and now Cunego have been dropped by the yellow jersey’s peloton.
Sastre and Menchov have tried to break free of the yellow jersey’s peloton but the two have been reeled in by Mario Aerts of the Silence-Lotto team.
Vansummeren has been dropped by the yellow jersey’s peloton that is now being attacked by Sastre and Menchov.
Pineau has dropped Velits in the first kilometer of the 13.8km ascent.
The yellow jersey’s group has taken the left turn that leads to the early slopes of the Alpe d’Huez. Cancellara is at the front driving the pace and Arvesen has just peeled off. The two lead by 55".
The points for the second intermediate sprint were won by:
1. Jerome Pineau (BTL) 6pts
2. Peter Velits (MRM) 4pts
3. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) 2pts
Pineau and Velits have just passed under the 15km to go banner. They are 1’00" ahead of the yellow jersey’s group.
The rider with the yellow jersey on the approach of L’Alpe d’Huez are:
Evans, Aerts and Vansummeren (SIL)
Sastre, Arvesen, Cancellara, Gustov, Schleck and Schleck (CSC)
Sanchez and Verdugo (EUS)
Valverde and Arroyo (GCE)
Kirchen and Siutsou (COL)
Cunego and Szmyd (LAM)
Botcharov and Fofonov (C.A)
Dessel, Efimkin, Goubert and Valjavec (ALM)
Menchov, Moerenhout, Ten Dam and Weening (RAB)
Moinard and Moncoutie (COF)
Vande Velde (GAR)
It’s been status quo for the last five kilometers but Cancellara has now been replaced by Arvesen at the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton that is now 1’50" behind Pineau and Velits who are 20km from the end of the stage.
The two escapees have 25km to go. There are another 10km of flat and then the ascent to L’Alpe d’Huez begins. There are 36 riders in the yellow jersey’s group which is 2’00" behind.
Fabian is back in position at the front of the peloton. The Cancellara Express is en route to Bourg d’Oisans and there are about 40 men on board. The dominant force is the CSC squad which has six rider at the head of the bunch including the two brothers, Frank and Andy, who are leading the general and youth classifications, respectively.
The two riders in the lead have an advantage of 1’55" as the peloton passes the 180km mark.
With 32km to go in the 17th stage, Pineau has caught Velits. There are now 2 men 1’50" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
The yellow jersey’s peloton now includes six rider from the CSC team. This group is 1’45" behind Velits.
Velits’ advantage over Pineau is down to 27". The yellow jersey’s peloton is growing between the third and fourth climbs of the stage. It is 1’30" behind the Slovakian rider who attacked at the 3km mark.
Velits leads Pineau by 50" and the yellow jersey’s group by 1’30" with 38km to go in the stage.
The deficit of the counter-attacking rider, Jerome Pineau (BTL) to the stage leader, Peter Velits (MRM) is 55". The yellow jersey’s peloton is at 1’25".
There has been a general regrouping after the climb. Cancellara is sporting a wide grin as he returns to the yellow jersey’s peloton that has been attack by Jerome Pineau (BTL). He is 1’00" behind Velits.
Velits is still in the lead of the stage by 1’15".
Early on the descent from the Croix de Fer’s top, Cunego has caught up with the yellow jersey’s group.
The points winners for the Col de la Croix de Fer are:
1. Peter Velits (MRM) 20pts
2. Bernhard Kohl (GST) 18pts - at 1’10"
3. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (RAB) 16pts
4. Andy Schleck (CSC) 14pts
5. Christian Vande Velde (GAR) 12pts
6. Frank Schleck (CSC) 10pts
7. Chrisopher Froome (BAR) 8pts
8. David Moncoutie (COF) 7pts
9. Kim Kirchen (COL) 6pts
10. Carlos Sastre (CSC) 5pt
Velits has been at the front of the stage since the 3km mark. He has just passed the top of the Croix de Fer pass.
We can confirm that the following riders are part of the yellow jersey’s group:
Evans, Aerts (SIL)
Arvesen, Schleck, Schleck, Sastre (CSC)
Valverde, Arroyo (GCE)
Siutsou, Kirchen (COL)
Goubert, Valjavec, Efimkin (ALM)
Menchov, Weening (RAB)
Vande Velde (GAR)
There may be a few others. Apologies for anyone omitted. Bravo to those who are there!
Andy Schleck has returned to the convoy to collect some water from the CSC team car.
Velits was the rider who instigated the escape today at the 3km mark. He is the only rider ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton which is led by Arvesen and is 1’15" behind the Milram rider.
Evans, Arvesen, Frank, Andy, Kohl, Valverde, Menchov, Fofonov, Siutsou, Moncoutie, Aerts, Arroyo, Kirchen, Efimkin, Valjavec, Weening, Mounard, Vande Velde... are some of the riders in the yellow jersey’s peloton.
The riders near the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton include about 18 riders. Present are: Andy, Frank, Bernhard, Cadel, Denis, Kim, Christian, Alejandro, Tadej, Vladimir Efimkin... we’ll report the full list shortly.
Only Velits remains ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton. Schumacher has been caught 4.7km from the top of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
Arvesen is now leading the yellow jersey’s peloton with 5km to climb. This group is 1’35" with 5km to climb. It has just shed Gustov from the back...
Cancellara, Fofonov, Cunego, Ten Dam, Voigt, Vogondy, Moinard, Sanchez... are some of the latest riders to drop from the yellow jersey’s peloton.
Fabian Cancellara has finally stopped setting the pace of the peloton. Now it’s Volodymir Gustov and Arvesen. The speed is dropping numerous riders from the yellow jersey’s peloton, the latest victim of the pace is Cunego. The bunch is 1’45" behind Velits who is 5km from the top of the Croix Fer pass.
Velits has put 30 seconds into Schumacher after attacking the German with six kilometers to climb on the climb of the Iron Cross...
Velits has dropped Schumacher at the front of the stage. The under-23 world champion is making his Tour debut this year. He had reached a maximum advantage on the peloton of 7’20". He is now leading by 3’00" with Cancellara still setting tempo of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
There are six CSC riders at the front of the yellow jersey’s peloton. Then comes Colonel Kohl and the rest of the riders currently in the top 10. Carlos Sastre is also present in the elite selection but he’s hovering down the middle of the bunch. The only CSC riders NOT in the yellow jersey’s peloton are O’Grady and Sorensen.
The yellow jersey’s peloton is now 3’05" behind Schumacher and Velits at the 146km mark. It has just reeled in Perez who was dropped from the lead group 20km from the top of the Iron Cross climb.
There’s no question that the CSC team is the strongest in the 2008. There are five riders from the squad at the head of the yellow jersey’s peloton with Cancellara still setting the pace of a rapidly thinning out group. There are still two team-mates with Evans but his apparent right-hand man, Popovych, has been dropped twice already today.
Di Gregorio was part of the initial escape today but he has now been dropped by the peloton that’s 3’20" behind his former escape companions (Velits and Schumacher).
Popovych is paying the price for his effort in stage 16. He has been dropped (again) thanks to the pace that’s being set by Cancellara at the head of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
One of the three riders who escaped early in the stage, Ruben Perez, is now 2’15" behind Schumacher and Velits.
Freire has climbed back into the yellow jersey’s peloton, so too have Erik Zabel and Yaroslav Popovych.
The pace of Cancellara has thinned out the yellow jersey’s peloton that now includes about 40 riders. The top 13 riders in the general classification are still present but Nibali was one of the first to crack. He is now grupetto bound and the deficit of the main pack to the two stage leaders has dropped to 4’05" as the peloton passes the 140km mark.
The CSC team has clearly got a set pattern for who leads the peloton. Cancellara took over from O’Grady at the base of the Col de la Croix de Fer. He has reduced the leaders’ advantage from 7’20" to 4’30" and is causing guys like Hincapie, Cheula, Popovych and Freire to drop from the peloton.
Di Gregorio has been swallowed up by the peloton which is now 4’35" behind Schumacher and Velits. Perez is at 1’05" from the two stage leaders.
Perez has already lost 30" to Schumacher and Velits.
The former leader of the youth classification, Vincenzo Nibali has been dropped by the peloton.
Perez has not been able to maintain the tempo being set by Velits and Schumacher. The Euskaltel rider has dropped from the lead group with 20km to climb.
Voeckler has been spat out the back of the pack. Ah, the price of sprinting for points at the top of one climb is a rapid exit from the peloton at the base of the next...
Velits, Perez and Schumacher are now 6’00" ahead of the peloton that has just reached the 133km mark. The pace has picked up in the chase; the maximum gain of the fugutives was 7’20" at the base of the Croix de Fer climb.
O’Grady has finally stopped leading the peloton. The front position has been taken by his team-mate Fabian Cancellara. It’s a day for winners of Paris-Roubaix to lead the peloton...
Ciolek, Gilbert, Dean, Sprick... are more riders who have been dropped early on the Col de la Croix de Fer. Jimmy Casper was the first rider dropped today. He will be fighting to stay within the time limit. At the base of the third climb he was 11’40" behind the Schumacher group.
Cioni, Gonzalo Ramirez, Riblon, Dumoulin, Hushovd, Gerrans, Bono, Coyot, Sorensen, Vansummeren, Bonnet... are some of the riders who have been dropped before the 130km mark. The bunch is now 6’35" behind Schumacher’s trio.
With over 11,000 votes submitted in todayâs poll, the consensus is that Frank Schleck will retain the yellow jersey after todayâs stage. The question for LeTour.frâs survey for stage 17 is: Of the top five overall after 16 stages, who do you think will be in the yellow jersey after the stage to Alpe dâHuez?
(Below is the results with 11,004 votes submitted.)
Frank Schleck (CSC) - 36.60%
Bernhard Kohl (GST) - 28.30%
Cadel Evans (SIL) - 13.55%
Carlos Sastre (CSC) - 13.41%
Denis Menchov (RAB) - 8.14%
The peloton continues to be led by O’Grady of the CSC team. It is 7’00" behind the three stage leaders early on the slopes of the Col de la Croix de Fer. Gerrans is the latest to be dropped by the main pack which is now starting to shed riders at a rapid rate.
The peloton has passed the 29km to climb sign for the Col de la Croix de Fer. It is 7’20" behind Schumacher’s trio. This is the maximum gain of the escape so far today.
The rider who crashed at the top of the Galibier, Bernhard Eisel, has crashed again. He’s back on his bike and racing with torn knicks and a battered body.
The leaders have just passed a spotted sign stating what lies ahead: the 29km long ascent of the Col de la Croix de Fer. This is the third categorized climb of the 17th stage. It is 29km long with an average gradient of 5.2 percent. The steepest sections are kilometers eight (9 percent) and 24 (9.6 percent). It rises to 2,067m and the crest of the pass is at the 156km mark.
Di Gregorio is 2’40" behind at the foot of the climb.
There are three riders in the lead of the stage: Schumacher, Perez and Velits. They have gained 1’40" on Di Gregorio who was dropped on the descent of the Col du Telegraphe.
As the peloton arrives at the feedzone, it is 6’50" behind the escapees.
Di Gregorio is 50" behind Perez, Velits and Schumacher. They have ridden through the feedzone (at the 119km mark) and have a lead of 5’30" on the peloton.
While numerous teams using Shimano components have already opted to employ the latest version of the flagship ensemble, Dura-Ace (which now features gear cables tucked underneath the bar tape) the squad of the race leader, CSC, is still using the old-style groupset.
Stefan Schumacher, Remy Di Gregorio and Ruben Perez - in the lead of the stage - are also using the latest incarnation of the Japanese company’s Dura-Ace gruppo.
In the middle of the traffic jam of race vehicles and spectators after stage 16, the manager of the Gerolsteiner squad decided to get some exercise. Hans Holczer kitted himself up in the light blue team kit and went for a pedal after the stage in which Schumacher was voted the most aggressive rider.
The German rider is on the attack again today and his Austrian boss has just come forward to offer some instructions to rider who - along with Perez and Velits - is 4’30" ahead of the peloton.
At the 111km mark, the peloton’s deficit was 4’25".
Schumacher, Perez and Velits has passed the 113km mark with a lead of 25" on Remy Di Gregorio.
The peloton is 12km from the feedzone (at St-Julien-Mont-Denis, 119km) with a deficit of 3’55" to Schumacher et al.
On the descent of the Col du Telegraphe, Di Gregorio has lost 14" to Perez, Schumacher and Velits.
LeTour.fr contacted the directeur sportif of the Euskaltel team before the start of stage 17 to get his thoughts on the stage. âThe stage yesterday was very difficult,â said Gorka Gerrikagoitia. âThe idea was to try and help Samuel win. He attacked on the descent and gained some time but cramps and muscle problems hindered his hopes.
âJust beforehand we demanded that Mikel Astarloza ride in support and he waited to help pace Sanchez to the top of the Bonette ascent. Today we have the same intentions; weâll try and put Mikel ahead and bank on Samuel winning the stage.
âThis is our goal, much more than just finishing eighth or ninths in the general classification. Last night we have not had much time to recover because of the long transfers to our hotel but Samuel had an hour of massage and slept for nine hours. He said this morning that he feels like he could make a challenge and be a protagonist for the stage.â
Hincapie has sustained some cuts an abrasions after crashing on the descent of the Col de Galibier. He is currently riding through the convoy and is about to rejoin the peloton.
The Col du Telegraphe is at the 102km mark of the 17th stage. Once over that pass, the peloton faces what is essentially 25km of downhill before arriving at St-Jean-de-Maurienne the village before the ascent of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
Just as Adam Hansen returned to the peloton after crashing in the first kilometer of the descent, Radio Tour has announced another fall for a Columbia rider; Hincapie was the latest victim but he too has remounted and rejoined the peloton.
The peloton is 3’40" behind the four escapees.
Nibali, Barredo, Voeckler and Txurruka have been caught by the peloton.
Schumacher was gesturing to his escape companions to try and get a better collaboration. It appears the German got frustrated by the antics of Di Gregorio, Perez and Velits as he’s now gone to the front of the stage and is riding on his own... momentarily. The others are now chasing him down.
Nibali is the virtual leader of the youth classification. He has joined Voeckler, Txurruka and Barredo on the attack during the descent. They are 3’35" behing at the 91km mark. The peloton is at 3’50".
Kohl is still in the lead of the climbing classification. He foiled Voeckler’s attempt to beat him to the top of the Galibier pass and the Austrian currently has 97 points in the race for the mountain classification.
Voeckler is insisting with his attack on the descent (along with Txurruka and Barredo). He has earned himself 10" on the peloton and is currently 4’10" behind the escape that is being led by Ruben Perez who clearly wasn’t hurt in his fall.
Schumacher has been caught by the three other escapees. This quartet are now riding together with Perez leading at the moment.
Schumacher is speeding ahead of his escape companions on the descent. The same applies for Voeckler and the peloton. The French rider is 4’20" behind Schumacher and the peloton is at 4’40".
At the top of the Galibier pass, the points were won by:
1. Stefan Schumacher (GST) 20pts - and 5,000 Euros for âSouvenir Henri Desgrangeâ
2. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) 18pts
3. Peter Velits (MRM) 16pts
4. Ruben Perez (EUS) 14pts
5. Bernhard Kohl (GST) 12pts - at 4’45"
6. Thomas Voeckler (BTL) 10pts
7. John-Lee Augustyn (BAR) 8pts
8. Amets Txurruka (EUS) 7pts - at 4’55"
9. Kantstantin Siutsou (COL) 6pts
10. Carlos Barredo (QST) 5pts - at 5’00"
Eisel has also crashed on the descent. He too has stood quickly after the incident.
Perez has gone over the edge of the road on the descent. He is okay but it was a close call for both he and Di Gregorio.
Kohl wanted to ensure that he beat Voeckler to the top of the Galibier pass. He has done that and claimed 12 points at the top.
Kohl’s quintet has only a slight advantage over the peloton but it’s enough to make the Austrian the virtual leader of the Tour. He is more than seven seconds haead of the yellow jersey and Wegmann is setting the pace to help him gain points at the summit of the Galibier.
Txurruka, Augustyn, Wegmann, Voeckler and Kohl have opened up a lead on the peloton in the final 3km of the Galibier pass.
The first four riders are now on the descent of the Galibier. At the top, the points have so far been awarded to:
1. Stefan Schumacher (GST) 20pts - and 5,000 Euros for ’Souvenir Henri Desgrange’
2. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) 18pts
3. Peter Velits (MRM) 16pts
4. Ruben Perez (EUS) 14pts
Amets Txurruka has attacked the peloton. Others have joined him and now Voeckler is on a mission to grab fifth place points.
Perez has lost ground to his escape companions in the final meters leading to the top of the Galibier.
Di Gregorio, Schumacher, Velits and Perez are less than 1,000m from the top of the Galibier pass. They are 5’45" ahead of the peloton that is, once again, being led by CSC riders. Currently Nicki Sorensen is setting the pace ahead of O’Grady, Voigt, Sastre and then Frank Schleck.
The CSC team relinguised its place at the head of the peloton. There were a number of other teams moving forward including some from Euskaltel, Gerolsteiner and Barloworld.
There are points for the first 10 riders at the top of the Galibier.
The allocation is:
1st - 20pts
2nd - 18pts
3rd - 16pts
4th - 14pts
5th - 12pts
6th - 10pts
7th - 8pts
8th - 7pts
9th - 6pts
10th - 5pts
The German champion Fabian Wegmann has been following the CSC team at the head of the peloton for most of the climb. Nestled in behind the Gerolsteiner rider is his Austrian team-mate and leader of the mountains classification Bernhard Kohl.
No one has tried to attack the CSC team on the first ’HC’ pass of the 17th stage.
The bunch is currently climbing to the pass of the Galibier climb. The crest is 5km away and the deficit to the four stage leaders is 5’30".
The leading quartet are less than 5,000m from the top of the Galibier pass. Their advantage over the CSC-led bunch (which is at the 72km mark) is 5’20".
There have been no attacks on the Galibier (yet). The lead group is being led by the under-23 world champion, Peter Velits, who is tapping out the tempo ahead of Remy Di Gregorio.
The rider who Velits beat to win his rainbow jersey in Stuttgart last year was Wes Salzberger. The Australian, the younger brother of Bernie, will join Di Gregorio’s team next month in a trial. Salzberger’s first event for FDJ will be the Paris-Correze stage race in August.
Stuart O’Grady has been swapping off with Nicki Sorensen and Fabian Cancellara at the front of the peloton essentially since the escape was established. The bunch is currently 5’10" behind Schumacher’s quartet. The green jersey, worn by Oscar Freire, has just been seen near the head of the peloton which has about 12km to climb on the Galibier.
There is a 2,058m high pass (Lauteret) on the road to the top of the Galibier. The four escapees have just reached the 70km mark and gone past the climb that has often been part of the Tour’s itinerary. The last time the Col du Lautaret was part of the course was in 2006 when David De La Fuente took first-place points at the summit. (There are no points for this pass today.)
Andy Schleck has just been back to his team car to fill his white prize jersey with drinks for his CSC team-mates. The younger brother of the overall leader is ranked 14th in the general classification after 16 stages, 9’01" behind Frank.
There have been no attacks on the ascent of the Galibier yet. Schumacher, Di Gregorio, Perez and Velits are now less than 11km from the top with an advantage of 5’10" on the CSC-led peloton.
The winner of the points classification at the Criterium du Dauphine Libere last year was Remy Di Gregorio, one of the riders in the lead of today’s stage. He earned a large bulk of his points during the sixth stage of the race last June which included the Col de la Croix de Fer, one of the climbs that features today. He beat Moris Possoni to the summit of the 2,067m high pass and third place went to the current King of the Mountains, Bernhard Kohl.
The Galibier pass has been a feature of the Tour often since it was first part of the route (in 1911). The peloton is climbing the col from a different approach to last year when Mauricio Soler led over the summit.
The peloton is currently 5’45" behind the five riders in the lead of the 17th stage as they climb the early slopes of the Galibier pass. The previous time a stage of the Tour was contested over this 2,645m high climb was on day 10 of the 2007 race. The top 10 a year ago was:
1. Mauricio Soler (COL) BAR 40 pts
2. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) DSC 36
3. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC 32
4. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL 28
5. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) EUS 24
6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE 20
7. Christophe Moreau (FRA) A2R 16
8. Michael Rasmussen (DEN) RAB 14
9. Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ) AST 12
10. Juan Jose Cobo (ESP) SDV 10
Of the 20.9 kilometers that the peloton have to ride to reach the top of the Col du Galibier, the 18th kilometer is the steepest with an average of nine percent. The final 900m also has that gradient.
The peloton has passed the site of the intermediate sprint with a deficit of 5’35" to the four escapees.
Righto fellas, get ready for the road to rise: the Galibier awaits! Schumacher, Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits are about to start climbing the 20.9km long road to the 2,645m high summit of the Col du Galibier. There’s 5,000 Euros on offer for the first rider at the top as well as 20 points for the mountains classification.
On your marks. Get set... Go!
The points for the intermediate sprint at the 57.5km mark were won by:
1. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) 6pts
2. Peter Velits (MRM) 4pts
3. Stefan Schumacher (GST) 2pts
Schumacher, Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits are less than 1,000m from the first intermediate sprint of the stage. Schumacher has been doing most of the work, spending 30 percent of the last 10 minutes at the front of the escape group.
The peloton is at the 50km mark of the 210.5km stage. Stuart O’Grady is tapping out the tempo at the front of the bunch that is now 5’10" behind the four escapees who started their move after three kilometers of racing.
The leaders are past the 50km mark. The first intermediate sprint of the stage is at 57km in Monetier-les-Bains. After that it’s only a few kilometers before the ascent of the Col du Galibier begins.
Schumacher, Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits have pushed their advantage on the peloton up to 4’50" after 50km of racing.
The rider who initiated the escape today was Peter Velits. The twin brother of Martin (who also rides for Team Milram) was the winner of the under-23 world championship road race last year. He beat Australian Wes Salzberger to claim his first rainbow jersey at the end of a race that concluded with a big crash right at the finish line.
In that race, in Stuttgart last year, Edvald Boassen-Hagen (who now rides for Team Columbia) actually slid across the line with his face claiming 10th place but as his bike (and electronic sensor) lay behind, the was credited with 56th place.
The average speed for the first hour of stage 17 is 44.6km/h.
As the bunch arrives in Briancon it is 4’10" behind Schumacher, Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits.
The escapees are in Briancon at the 42km mark. They are 3’40" ahead of the peloton.
The winner of the time trial for stage four, Stefan Schumacher - who also wears a red race number today as the winner of the Most Aggressive rider prize yesterday - is the best placed of the four escapees in the general classification. The German began the 17th stage in 26th place overall, 22’05" behind Frank Schleck who is now having a chat with Schumacher’s Gerolsteiner colleague, Markus Fothen.
The peloton is still being led by riders from CSC team - as expected - and the advantage of the escapees has grown to 3’00".
The highest city in Europe, Briancon (at 1,193m) is on the itinerary today. The peloton passes through at the 42km mark. There have been 33 Tour stage finishes there in the past and the last rider to win in Briancon as the King of the Mountains of last year’s edition, Mauricio Soler. The Colombian started his second Tour this year but had to abandon in the first week because of injuries sustained in a crash during stage one.
At the top of the climb at the 31km mark, the peloton is 2’25" behind Schumacher, Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits.
The points for the first climb of stage 17 were won by:
1. Stefan Schumacher (GST) 4pts
2. Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ) 3pts
3. Ruben Perez (EUS) 2pts
4. Peter Velits (MRM) 1pt
The Gerolsteiner rider in the lead of the stage is setting the pace for his escape companions on the first climb. They are 2’10" ahead of the peloton with 1km to go to the first summit.
At the 28km mark, the CSC team is in the lead of the peloton that is now 2’00" behind Schumacher, Perez, Di Gregorio and Velits.
The first ascent is ranked category-three: it is 3.5km long with an average gradient of six percent. The peloton arrived at the base of the Cote de St-Marguerite 1’25" behind Schumacher’s quartet.
The Cote de St-Marguerite is at the 31km mark. The four stage leaders are 3km from the summit and have a lead on the peloton of 1’15".
With the easing of pace in the bunch, the advantage of Schumacher’s group has jumped to 45".
The peloton is likely to ease of the pace of its chase now. There has been an unspoken truce as the overall leader, Frank Schleck has just pulled over to the side of the road to answer nature’s call.
There are now just four men ahead of the peloton. Perez, Schumacher, Velits and Di Gregorio who are 22" ahead. The counter-attacks have been caught.
The four stage leaders are still 30" ahead of the peloton and 18" ahead of the two counter attackers. One man from the Garmin-Chipotle team has just attacked the peloton... but he’s not allowed to gain any advantage.
It was reported yesterday that John-Lee Augustyn won the ’Souvenir Henri Desgrange’ as he crested the highest pass of the 2008 Tour. That was incorrect. The special prime is, in fact, part of today’s stage. Worth 5,000 Euros for the first rider at the top, this prize is named after the founder of the Tour de France.
Perez (EUS), Schumacher (GST), Velits (MRM) and Di Gregorio (FDJ) are 30" ahead of the peloton at the 20km mark. Auge (COF) and Lequatre (AGR) are in between the stage leaders and the peloton. They are 20" shy of the four who scampered ahead at the 3km mark.
The peloton appeared content to allow the four leaders to gain some advantage but then Lequatre (AGR) attacked and he has been joined by Auge (COF) at the 19km mark.
âIf we can if we can limit Christianâs losses today, then we can be satisfied,â said the directeur sportif of Garmin-Chipotle, Matt White before the start of stage 17. âWeâre still in with a shot at the podium but itâs really going to come down to today and the time trial; thatâs what everyone knows, so itâs no surprise but this is the Tour and anything can happen.
âYesterday Christian lost a little time on the final climb and then had a small incident on the descent. He didnât injure himself in the crash and heâs still in good spirits. We had Ryder (Hesjedal) in the break yesterday and he waited for Christian at the finish. Weâll work for something like that again today ideally either with Ryder of Trent Lowe: thereâs no point in having a non-climber going up the road, so those two guys are my preference.â
At the 15km mark, Di Gregorio, Perez and Velits have been caught by Schumacher (GST) who was voted the most aggressive rider of stage 16.
Di Gregorio, Perez and Velits are pushing on with their attack. They have built a lead of 15" and the counter-attack by Barredo has been reeled in by the bunch.
At 210.5km, the 17th stage is the second longest of the 2008 Tour de France.
Each day LeTour.fr conducts a poll of readers. The question for stage 17 is:
Of the top five overall after 16 stages, who do you think will be in the yellow jersey after the stage to Alpe dâHuez?
Frank Schleck (CSC)
Bernhard Kohl (GST)
Cadel Evans (SIL)
Carlos Sastre (CSC)
Denis Menchov (RAB)
Be sure to click on the link on the Tour’s official site to let us know your thoughts.
The escapees are 8km into the stage. Their advantage on the peloton is less than 30 seconds and the bunch is riding at a rapid pace to limit the gains of Di Gregorio, Perez and Velits. They are being pursued by a lone Quickstep rider, Carlos Barredo.
The riders in the lead of the stage are: Remy Di Gregorio (FDJ - not Jeremy Roy as posted in the previous flashes), Rubens Perez (EUS) and Peter Velits (MRM).
Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Peter Velits (MRM) and the as-yet un-named Euskaltel rider are 10" ahead of the peloton at the 5km mark.
At the 3km mark, three riders have opened up a gap on the peloton. The men involved are from Milram (Peter Velits), Euskaltel and Jeremy Roy (FDJ).
The intermediate sprints for the 17th stage are in Monetiers-les-Bains (at 57.5km) and Bourg dâOisans, just before the last climb (195km).
The peloton has reached the end of the neutral zone. The flag has fallen to signal the official start of stage 17 at 11.40am. The French champion Nicolas Vogondy (AGR) is at the front of a group that has accelerated early. There are 151 riders in the race with no overnight retirees.
Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and Nicki Sorensen are four of the CSC team who are currently sitting right at the front of the peloton as it makes its way to the site of the official start. We can expect the Danish-registered squad to light up the stage again today. They had two riders in the escape group early yesterday - Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Jens Voigt - both were called back by the team manager Bjarne Riis on the final ascent of stage 16 to assist with the team’s tactics of setting a fast pace to reduce the hopes of attacks from their rivals.
âThere wasnât actually a thought about this white jersey before the stage but in the end I saw that Vincenzo Nibali was no longer there but I didnât know how far behind he was,â said the new leader of the youth classification, Andy Schleck (CSC) after stage 1. âI just did my race, focused on what I had to do and this is the reward.â
He has a lead of just six seconds to the Liquigas rider who inherited the white jersey after Riccardo Riccoâs dismal demise. Another Liquigas recrcuit, Roman Kreuziger is ranked third in the category open to riders born after 1 January 1983. The Czech rider has been consistent on the climbs but he finished alongside Vande Velde in stage 16, losing 4â04â to the winner and 2â13â to the younger of the Schleck brothers.
This could possibly be the first time that siblings have worn a jersey of distinction at the same time during the Tour de France. (Weâre looking into this quandary. Stay tuned.)
Despite finishing 10th in the 16th stage and losing no time to Frank Schleck in the overall rankings, Bernhard Kohl (GST) didnât add any points to his collection in the mountains classification yesterday. He still has a commanding lead with 85 points, 15 more than team-mate and former leader Sebastian Lang. Thomas Voeckler collected 16 points for third over the summit of the Col de la Lombarde, elevating him up the rankings from seventh to third (with 55pts).
The winner of the 40 points as first rider over the highest pass of this yearâs Tour, John-Lee Augustyn (BAR) came crashing down after his moment in the lead and slid down the rocky edge of the Bonette-Restefond pass. He finished the stage in 35th place, losing 5â27â â most of this lost time was acquired while he waited for a bike to replace the one that went further down the mountain than he did after his dramatic fall. The South African is now fourth in the race for the polka-dot jersey with 53 points.
Egoi Martinez (EUS) and his escape companion and winner of the 15th stage Simon Gerrans (C.A), are next in the climbing category both with a tally of 50 points by their names.
The top order of the points classification remains the same as it has been for several days. The sprinters are still in charge with Oscar Freire (RAB) leading Thor Hushovd (C.A) and Erik Zabel (MRM). Some of the âGC Guysâ did move up the rankings in the race for the green jersey after stage 16 but they are more concerned with the yellow prize than the one sponsored by PMU. Alejandro Valverde was the first rider to claim the green jersey in 2008, he moved from seventh to sixth after finishing 13th in the stage to Jausiers. And former race leader Cadel Evans shunted up the points category from 12th to 10th after finishing yesterdayâs stage in 11th, one place ahead of his yellow jersey successor Frank Schleck.
The peloton is currently on its way to the start of the 17th stage. The riders in the prize jerseys are leading the bunch in the 5.6km neutral zone. (We’ve already recapped the general classification leaders, the review of the other prize category leaders after 16 stages will follow shortly.)
The top order of the general classification copped a bit of a shake up after stage 16. Of the riders in the top 10, Christian Vande Velde (GAR) lost the most time. âHe went over the top 30 seconds behind the yellow jerseyâs group,â said Garmin-Chipotle team director Matt White this morning, âand they were going full gas to try and catch up on the descentâŚ he overcooked it on a turn and had a tumble.â
The American was ranked fifth overall, 39 seconds behind Frank Schleck (CSC). Vande Velde lost over two minutes to the rider who has worn the yellow jersey since the end of stage 15 and is now sixth, at 3â15â.
Denis Menchov also lost time. He simply couldnât match the pace of the Schleck brothers and their elite selection on the descent from the Bonette-Restefond climb and finished 35 in arrears of the yellow jersey. He slipped from fourth overall to fifth, 1â13â behind Frank Schleck. Carlos Sastre moved up from sixth to fourth after the 16th stage when he finished in the same group as his team-mate and race leader and is now 49 seconds behind.
Second and third overall remain the same: Bernhard Kohl (GST) is seven seconds back and Cadel Evans (SIL) has been eight seconds slower than Frank Schleck after 2,790km of racing.
The 17th stage of the 2008 Tour de France is due to commence at 11.25am. This is the day that everyone seems to agree will determine who the winner of the 95th edition will be. It is a tough itinerary that includes: four climbs, one category-3 (the cote de Saint-Marguerite, at 31km), followed by three âHors Categorieâ challenges â the 2,645m Col du Galibier (featuring the âSouvenir Henri Desgrangeâ) at 79km, the 2,067m Col de la Croix de Fer at 156km and the final rise to the ski station of LâAlpe dâHuez at an altitude of 1,850m.
The conditions are ideal with a light breeze blowing, blue skies and a temperature of about 23 degrees early today. With the sun shining, it’s expected to heat up before the finish of the long, tough day.
There is a 5.6km neutral zone before riders arrive at the site of the official start. This is expected to be at around 11.40am. Live coverage of the stage will begin shortly.