With four massive cols it was billed as major day for the 2010 Tour de France and the start of stage 16 lived up to the hype. Four two solid hours there was no let up in the attacking action and almost every climber in the peloton tried their luck… with the exception of the two at the top of the general classification. Alberto and Andy marked each other, knowing that it was a long ride from the final ascent to the finish in Pau. But two former champions were willing to try their luck; both Lance Armstrong and Carlos Sastre were part of the action over the col de Peyresourde and col d’Aspin. Given that they were well down the rankings, however, they were allowed plenty of leeway from the peloton and it effectively became a race for the opportunists.
Pierrick Fedrigo is proving that he’s reliable, consistent and capable of winning. He easily accounted for his escape companions in the final 300 meters and claimed his third stage victory in the Tour de France. It’s the first time since 1992 that French riders have won six stages.
Lance Armstrong did animate the stage but not even The Boss could stamp his authority on the group of nine opportunists who shared the sprint for stage honors; 15 years after he and his Motorola mates led the peloton across the line in Pau a day after Fabio Casartelli’s death, the Texan was sixth in the stage.
The Progress Report
The highly anticipated 199.5km 16th stage of the 2010 Tour de France, from Bagnere-de-Luchon to Pau began at 11.43am. There were 172 riders at the sign on with Mayoz (FOT) and Tankink (RAB) the non-starters. The stage had two intermediate sprints – in Bielle (164.5km) and Gan (185.5km) – and the big features were four huge passes: the cat-1 col de Peyresourde (11km), the cat-1 col d’Apsin (42.5km), the ‘Hors Category’ col du Tourmalet (72km), followed by another ‘HC’ climb, the col d’Aubisque (138km).
Armstrong Into An Escape Group
Right from the start, the attacks began and by 5km, 18 established an escape including: Armstrong and Horner (RSH), Wiggins (SKY), Kreuziger and Szymd (LIQ), Hesjedal (GRM), Roche (ALM), Lloyd (OLO), Barredo (QST), Martinez (EUS), Verdugo (EUS) and Capecchi (FOT). This thinned out to 11 at the top with Roche one of the team leaders unable to follow. Van den Broeck attacked Contador’s peloton (which was down to 30 riders) in the final kilometer of the Peyresourde and crested the climb 30” behind the stage leaders.
The Liquigas pair in the escape led to the top, Armstrong was eighth and the peloton was led by three Astana riders and was at 55”. Voigt crashed early on the descent.
The lead group was reduced to 11 on the second climb with Lloyd waiting for the peloton and then helping led Van den Broeck to the top. Contador and Astana followed the Omega Pharma riders in the peloton, never lagging behind the escape by more than 30”. With 5km to climb, Sanchez (EUS), Sanchez (GCE) and Gesink (RAB) were dropped by the yellow jersey’s group but they caught up early on the descent. Charteau led the escape over the Aspin, 30” ahead of the yellow jersey and 50” ahead of Sanchez’s group. Cunego attacked the peloton in the final kilometer and caught the escape group at the 45km mark. Casar attacked the descent and arrived at the base of the Tourmalet with a lead of 20” on Vinokourov, Armstrong, Wiggins, Kreuziger, Hesjedal, Sastre, Charteau, Costa, Cunego and Capecchi.
Col du Tourmalet
Sastre, Kreuziger, Wiggins, Vinokourov, Hesjedal, Capecchi and Costa retreated to the peloton between the 2nd and 3rd climbs. Armstrong caught Casar at 51km and the other escapees retreated to the peloton that was 50” behind. Fedrigo, Cunego, Moreau and van de Walle formed a counter-attack at the base of the third climb. They were 15” at 53km and the peloton was at 1’10”.
Armstrong was caught by Cunego and Fedrigo at 62km, the peloton was 2’50” behind and led by Omega Pharma. With 9km to climb, Casar, Moreau and Van de Walle joined the lead group, then came Horner, Plaza and Barredo caught the lead group at 65km. Hushovd attacked the peloton with 6km to climb. Konovalovas caught the leaders 4km from the top. Moreau sprinted ahead to take the Souvenir Jacques Goddet ahead of Fedrigo and Cunego… then came the rest of the 10-man escape.
Charteau was 12th at the top (at 2’40”) and the peloton was led by Astana (at 3’40”).
The peloton arrived at the base of the col d’Aubisque 6’25” behind the 10 escapees: Armstrong, Horner, Casar, Konovalovas, Barredo, Van de Walle, Fedrigo, Moreau, Plaza and Cunego. They worked up a lead of 7’30”. With 13km to climb, Armstrong attacked and only Barredo, Cunego, Fedrigo and Plaza could follow. Armstrong attacked the peloton but four others were able to match his accelerations. Barredo was aggressive on the final climb but he couldn’t shake his rivals and the eight arrived at the top of the Aubisque together. Between the Soulor (128.5km) and the Aubisque, Horner, Moreau and Van de Walle returned to the lead group. Moreau attacked in the final 300m and took first at the top. Casar was at 1’35” and Konovalovas 10th at 3’40”. The peloton was led by Astana’s Tiralongo virtually all the way up the Aubisque and Contador’s group reached the top 9’50” behind. Casar caught the eight leaders with 47km to go.
Fedrigo Claims The Win After Gallant Effort From Barredo…
With 45km to go, Barredo attacked the escapees and no one responded, 5km later he had a lead of 40”. He would hover about 25” ahead of the peloton and only get caught with 1,100m to go. Then the race for stage honors began. The Caisse d’Epargne pair in the escape led the eight riders to the line and all of them were in the hunt for the win – although Armstrong appeared happy to start the sprint from second-last place… once Fedrigo hit the turbo button, it was clear everyone else was racing for second. He took the win a bike length ahead of Casar. It’s his third victory in the Tour de France.
Hushovd led the peloton home, 6’45” behind Fedrigo, taking six points and regaining the lead in the points classification.
Schleck and Contador finished 21st and 22nd in the stage, 6’45” behind Fedrigo and the defending Tour champion will wear the yellow jersey again after the rest day.
“Last night I posted a video because this situation does not pelase to me. Today I talked with Andy because I wanted to make things clear. We have always had good relations and I do not want them to be damaged by what happened yesterday. We have explained ourselves and I think our relationship can become as good as it was before.
“I had a very clear idea of what might happen on this stage. First of all, I wanted the team to stay together, as it was necessary to maintain the gap until the last climb and then I knew that other teams would take over. And that’s what happened.
“I think Andy can ask me about the problems of the time trial, simply because he is a great rider. Theoretically it is an advantage for me, but I know he is also able to gain time against the clock, being the [TT] champion of his country. But before we worry about the time trial there is still the stage on Thursday which is very hard, and there he may be big differences, rather than when we’re racing against the clock.
“It’s difficult to calculate how long it may be between us two in the time trial. This will depend first on what strength we have left. And, when compared to last year, it will not mean the same route [as the time trial in Annecy] for the one near Bordeaux is much flatter. I also think Andy has made significant progress in this area since last year.”
Pierrick Fedrigo was part of an escape that included the rider who has won 24 stages of the Tour before the 2010 edition and Lance Armstrong gave the Frenchman a compliment by saying he wouldn’t work with him.
“I would have been very disappointed to finish this Tour without finding myself in a position to play to win. I was really afraid of not succeeding. The Tour passes so quickly and so far I did not answer the call I’d issued myself. Last night I even cracked a little and my nerves were a bit frayed. But perhaps that’s what I needed in order to regain confidence.
“This morning I went into the break with the objective of taking maximum points to protect the polka-dot jersey of Anthony Charteau. He had to stay very focused to make the break and stay ahead. Then I remembered a lot of stage last year, the moments where I escaped with [Franco] Pellizotti on the Tourmalet and the Aspin. In the end, Armstrong told me that he would not cooperate with me because he knew I was the fastest group…”
The Norwegian champion was game enough to try attacking the peloton on the col du Tourmalet. Even though his move didn’t stick, he at least found himself in the group of 50 who finished 6’45” behind the stage winner… and he duly led them to the line to take six points and reclaim the green jersey.
“It was a great way to end the stage. I think I’ve got the best form of my life. It was worth trying something today and see what happens.
“I haven’t exactly been training for stages like this – and the chance of stealing points on the days when my rivals are not in the hunt – but I think I’m changing a little bit as a rider. I’m not that fast in the sprints anymore and I’m getting better at going uphill. Also, with my broken collarbone, I could not sprint so I did normal training and a lot of that work was in the mountains. And I think that’s what I’m getting back now.
“I think the points classification is mostly down to myself and Petacchi now but, like I said at the beginning of the Tour, anything can happen so we always have to pay attention to everyone who is around.”
After the ‘Case of the Dropped Chain’, Alberto Contador issued an online statement apologizing for attacking Andy Schleck after the mechanical mishap. The rider in second overall appreciates the gesture but now he wants people to turn their attention to the race ahead, not the incident of stage 15…
"I had to be careful in the beginning of the stage so I stayed up near the yellow jersey and had a good look at what he was up to. It looked like he had a good team around him and I had Jakob Fuglsang with me the whole time and unfortately Jens crashed in the downhill so it was not a super day for the team. I heard that he is okay, so that’s some of the best news of the day.
“We had one scenario that we’d spoken about: if there was a group two or three minutes I would have attacked maybe on the col d’Aubisque and see how I went. But when we got there the escape was just too far ahead so there was no point in trying anything today because it would not have been successful.
“I’m still motivated but it’s not like it’s revenge. I just want to win this Tour – that’s my goal – and I know there’s only one chance left and that’s the Tourmalet [on Thursday]. I think I can do it. I hope I can do it.
“I haven’t seen the footage of Alberto’s apology but he came to me today and personally apologized and I appreciate that a lot. He knows that he did a mistake yesterday; he shouldn’t have done that, he knows it and, for me, that’s enough now. This case is closed and people should stop with it and move on. Nobody deserves to be chastised endlessly.”
He had been part of an escape that formed after two tough hours of racing and Carlos Barredo eventually found himself in the move that would include the stage winner. He then attacked with 45km to go… only to be caught 1,100m from the finish line.
“At the beginning I tried to go alone and I was just thinking about the ride ahead but there was a lot of wind and it was blowing right in the face. It was difficult and then, in the last kilometers, the roads were too big and they didn’t offer any advantage for a one-man escape – that’s better done on smaller roads.
“When we were establishing the escape on the climbs early in the stage, there was quite a lot of talk and we were speaking about how we needed to attack and maintain the momentum. Lance tried for the first time and then it was my turn – and I tried many times because there were originally too many people in the group – and eventually we got a good selection. There was a chance today but, ah… well, I missed out. That’s life, hey? Many people said to Lance that Fedrigo was faster than everyone else in the group and he proved that in the end with a very good win.”
The two riders at the top of the general classifiicaiton finished side-by-side in the sprint to the line, 6’45" behind Fedrigo. There is no change to the top 13 but Chris Horner moves from 21st to 13th with his fifth place in stage 16.
There is no change to the top 10 overall, even though Horner and his escape group finished 6’45" ahead of the peloton. The American did rise up the rankings but not into the top 10...
The Cervelo team is leading the peloton around the final turn in Pau. It is going to finish less than seven minutes behind the stage winner and Hushovd has taken 10th place. The Norwegian will be back in the green jersey again tomorrow.
Pierrick Fedrigo has won his third Tour de France stage. The top nine in the 16th stage is: 1. Pierrick Fedrigo (FRA) BTL - 199.5km in 5h31’43 2. Sandy Casar (FRA) FDJ 3. Ruben Plaza (ESP) GCE 4. Damiano Cunego (ITA) LAM 5. Chris Horner (USA) RSH 6. Lance Armstrong (USA) RSH 7. Jurgen van de Walle (BEL) QST 8. Christophe Moreau (FRA) GCE 9. Carlos Barredo (ESP) QST at 28"
Fedrigo has given France it’s sixth stage win of the 2010 Tour de France. He has outsprinted Sandy Casar in Pau.