The top 10 in stage 17 is: 1. Andy Schleck (LUX) SAX - 174km in 5h03’29" 2. Alberto Contador (ESP) AST at same time 3. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP) KAT at 1’18" 4. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) GRM at 1’27" 5. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS at 1’32" 6. Denis Menchov (RUS) RAB at 1’40" 7. Robert Gesink (NED) RAB at 1’40" 8. Chris Horner (USA) RSH at 1’45" 9. Jurgen van den Broeck (BEL) OLO 1’48" 10. Roman Krueziger (CZE) LIQ 2’14"
Andy Schleck is clearly the best young rider in the Tour. He has won his second stage this year and is only eight seconds behind the overall leader, but the yellow jersey will stay on the shoulders of his main rival, Mr Alberto Contador.
Andy Schleck has won the stage to the Col du Tourmalet. He crossed the line about half a bike length ahead of the yellow jersey.
The leading pair are inside the final 500m of the stage. Schleck continues to lead the stage and Alberto continues to mark his rival. Surely Alberto is going to win his first stage in the 2010 Tour...
Contador’s directeur sportif said that the main priority today was to win the Tour but the stage victory is also a goal. Alberto is yet to win a stage in the 2010 Tour but he’s been able to follow Andy wherever he goes. Surely the Spaniard is plotting an attack in the final kilometer... which is where the leading pair is now.
Andy cannot figure out the solution to gaining eight seconds on Contador. These two are almost side by side... With 2km to go Andy is still at the front and Alberto marks him closely. They are coping with the crazed crowds that are spilling on to the road.
It’s clear that Andy and Alberto are head and shoulders above the other favorites in the 2010 Tour. They are now 1’40" ahead of a group that includes Van den Broeck, Horner, Menchov, Hesjedal, Gesink, Kreuziger, Sanchez...
Schleck is unable to get any advantage on Contador. They are 3km from the finish, the only attacks on the final climb was one from Andy with 10.5km to go, the next from Alberto with 3.7km to go... neither gained any advantage.
With 3.7km to go in the stage, Contador has decided to test Schleck. He surged ahead but the rider in second has been able to respond. They are 1’30" ahead of the Menchov group.
Andy has led Alberto from the 10.5km mark when he began his acceleration. The Spaniard has followed the Luxembourger ever since then. They are now less than 4km from the line....
Kolobnev has earned a red race number for his efforts today. He has won the most votes for the ’Fighting Spirit’ award.
Andy is out of the saddle again as the leading pair are 5km from the finish. Contador also stands to match the pace. Andy has not been able to put any distance between him and the yellow jersey.
The riders in the second group are:
Van den Broeck (OLO)
Sanchez (EUS) They are 1’20" behind Contador and Schleck.
The rider in third overall is riding along with a Gesink-led gropu that’s 1’00" behind...
Andy had been wearing dark sunglasses earlier today. They have been discarded and he’s just turned to look over his right shoulder and see how Alberto is coping with the rapid tempo his tapping out...
Contador doesn’t have to do a turn and he knows it. Schleck and he are out of the saddle and dancing away from the other riders. They have about 6.5km to go in the stage and, so far, it doesn’t seem as though Schleck will be able to win any time on Contador...
Gesink, Rodriguez, Van den Broeck, Sanchez, Menchov, are the riders who are 45" behind the two at the top of the GC rankings. Contador is pushing a bigger gear (pedaling at 75rpm) while Schleck is turning the pedals over at 97rpm...
There is now the race that everyone expected: the man in the white jersey attacking the man in yellow. They are 40" ahead of Menchov’s group and either Alberto or Andy is destined to win this stage.
The two best riders in the Tour are at the front of the stage with 8.5km to go before the finish at the top of the Tourmalet pass. At the last check, Menchov, Sanchez, Gesink, Van den Broeck were at 30".
After the 16th stage, Schleck promised to attack until he fell off his bike... he hasn’t yet fallen but he’s putting putting time into everyone - except the man who wants to drop, Contador. These two are about to catch Kolobnev.
Contador only has to mark Schleck today and, for the moment, he’s able to do this. No one else has been able to ride at the same tempo as last year’s runner-up. They are 30" ahead of Menchov, Sanchez and Rodriguez.
Schleck and Contador are now putting time into all the other favorites. Rodriguez, Menchov and Sanchez are the closest to the yellow and white jerseys.
Andy Schleck has attacked the yellow jersey’s group and only Contador can respond. Now comes Rodriguez... but the rest of the favorites are unable to follow the acceleration.
The riders we can confirm are in the yellow jersey’s group are: Contador, Schleck, Fuglsang, Barredo, Szmyd, Kreuziger, Kloden, Leipheimer,... and now Barredo has attacked with about 10km to go in the stage.
Kolobnev is 1’45" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton which has about 20 riders in it although Aerts (OLO), Gautier (BTL), Barredo (QST) are looking like they’re going to be spat out the back any minute now...
Navarro, traditionally the last lead-out man in the mountains for Contador, has been dropped by the peloton. Contador is now isolated in the group that’s led by Saxo Bank’s Fuglsang.
Sorensen has finished his job and now it’s the turn of Fuglsang to set the pace of the peloton. Behind him are Matt Lloyd and Jurgen van den Broeck (OLO) followed by Szymd and Kreuziger (LIQ), followed by Kiriyenka (GCE), Schleck (SAX), Contador (AST), Rodriguez (KAT)...
Vinokourov has been dropped by the peloton that continues to be led by Chris Anker Sorensen and Jakob Fuglsang. They are 2’20" behind Kolobnev.
Kolobnev is now on his own in the in the lead. Burghardt was unable to respond to an acceleration by the Russian champion. Boasson Hagen has been caught by the peloton which is 2’25" behind Kolobnev (who is 20" ahead of Burghardt and 30" ahead of Koren, Pauriol and Perez Moreno).
Contador’s group is down to about 30 riders. The world champion Evans was hanging in but his rainbow jersey cannot be seen in the mix with Contador, Scheck, Leipheimer, Menchov, Armstrong et al...
Cancellara is out the back of the yellow jersey’s pack which is now led by his team-mates Chris Anker Sorensen and Fuglsang...
With 15km to go, the peloton is 2’35" behind Burghardt and Kolobnev.
Burghardt and Kolobnev are still in the lead then it’s... 10" to Koren, Pauriol and Perez Moreno. 20" to Flecha. 1’30" to Boasson Hagen...
Burghardt and Kolobnev are inside the final 15km. O’Grady has finished his job for the Saxo Bank team and now it’s Cancellara taking over the pace setting duties. He has dropped Chavanel and Moreau with his acceleration...
Kolobnev and Burghardt are the riders at the front of the stage at the moment that Basso has been dropped by the yellow jersey’s peloton.
O’Grady led the Saxo Bank team to the base of Alpe d’Huez in 2008 when it launched Sastre on his winning ride up the final climb. The Australian is currently at the head of the peloton, in front of four team-mates...
The peloton is 3’05" behind the escapees as it arrives at the foot of the Tourmalet. The first victim of the incline up front is Boasson Hagen who is now out of the lead group.
As the peloton reaches the base of the Tourmalet, Wiggins (SKY) and Gerdemann (MRM) have been dropped.
Sastre has been dropped by the peloton before it arrives at the base of the Tourmalet.
The peloton is climbing the Tourmalet from the other direction than what it did two days ago. The ascent from the way it’s being ridden todayis 18.6km long with an average gradient 7.5 per cent.
The seven escapees are on the climb to the col du Tourmalet. Boasson Hagen is setting the pace ahead of Burghardt and Kolobnev. At the 20km to go mark, the peloton is 3’45" behind with Breschel setting the pace at the moment.
The yellow jersey is near the front of the peloton, ahead of his team-mate Vinokourov while the best young rider, Schleck (SAX) is just behind the winner of the stage to Revel.
The seven who escaped the peloton in the opening kilometer of the 174km stage are now 4’05" ahead of the bunch. The breakaway is inside the final 20km of the stage and here’s a reminder of who is involved:
Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY
Flecha (ESP) SKY
Koren (SLO) LIQ
Kolobnev (RUS) KAT
Burghardt (GER) BMC
Perez Moreno (ESP) EUS
Pauriol (FRA) COF
In the last 10 minutes, Rabobank riders have spent 67 per cent of the time at the front of the peloton. They are sharing the work with Astana and Saxo Bank in the lead-out to the Tourmalet.
The peloton is inside the last 25km of the stage. It is led by Breschel (SAX) and is 4’25" behind the escapees. The wet conditions of earlier today are no more but the Tourmalet is covered in mist. The roads for the final climb are dry however...
Sastre has been caught by the peloton. He attacked at 24km mark and has been caught at 140km.
The leaders are 25km from the finish. They have a lead of 5’00" on the peloton that’s led by Boom (RAB).
LeTour.fr just spoke with the former directeur sportif of the CSC team, Scott Sunderland. "I think it’ll have to be a win for Schleck today," he said. "It seems a bit strange to see Rabobank at the front of the bunch now. They haven’t done a lot of work for Menchov, but now - after Sanchez has been caught in a crash earlier today - they’re riding hard..." The bunch is about to catch Sastre, the rider who Sunderland worked with in the year of his Tour victory.
The bunch is now being led by Lars Boom of the Rabobank team. He is followed by Matti Breschel... the Astana team is well represented at the front of the bunch that’s 5’35" behind the seven escapees. In between the two groups of riders is Sastre at 4’25".
The winners of sprint points in Adast are: 1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) 6pts 2. Alexandr Kolobnev (KAT) 4pts 3. Remi Pauriol (COF) 2pts
When the Tour raced over the col du Tourmalet in 2006, it was on the day that Denis Menchov won his only stage - in Pla de Beret - and there was an escape of four men for the climb that came early in the day. At the time, Flecha was a team-mate of the Russian at Rabobank and the Spaniard was on the attack along with Wegmann, De la Fuenta and Camano.
The roads are narrow and the crowds are huge in the town of Argeles-Gazost. The escapees have just ridden through this place which is 37.5km from the finish. They are 5’33" ahead of the peloton and 4’06" ahead of Sastre.
Both Koren (LIQ) and Pauriol (COF) have their SRM data beamed live to the company’s site. The latest check saw them traveling at over 75km/h, but with a 0 cadence and 0 watt power output...
SRM, the company that supplies power meters to numerous teams in the Tour de France, is streaming data from several riders live during the stage. You can view the power out put, speed and heart rate of numerous riders in the race. Remi Pauriol was recently leading the escape group on the descent of the Soulor pass. With 202 watts, and a heart rate of 127bpm, he is traveling at a speed of 55km/h.
The peloton is 4’55" behind the seven leaders at the town of Arrens (125km).
1. Burghardt (BMC) 15pts 2. Koren (LIQ) 13pts 3. Perez Moreno (EUS) 11pts 4. Pauriol (COF) 9pts 5. Flecha (SKY) 8pts 6. Kolobnev (KAT) 7pts 7. Boasson Hagen (SKY) 6pts 8. Sastre (CTT) 5pts - at 2’55" The peloton is over the top at 4’25"...
The seven leaders are about 500m from the top of the Soulor. They are all putting on vests and arm warmers as they prepare for a descent that is about 25km long.
Ah, it could have been goats who came up to the road just as the peloton was passing. It was a mini mutton stampede and no one was hurt by the charge of the woolly ones.
Several sheep have just come onto the road as the peloton was passing. There are animals in the ranks right now...
The yellow jersey’s peloton is diminishing in numbers but Fabian Cancellara is toughing it out today. He has just moved up near the front of the bunch that has been led by Astana since it began the ascent of the Soulor pass.
The rain of earlier today has abated and riders in the peloton, although dressed in arm warmers at the start of the day, is now starting to unzip their jerseys. The road is dry where the race is at the moment but on the Tourmalet it’s still wet and the crowd is gathered in the clouds at the 2,115m high top of the famous pass.
The seven escapees are still all together as they pass the 5km to climb sign.
The bunch is 5’45" behind at the 8km to climb sign. Astana has spend seven of the last 10 minutes at the front of the peloton. The latest to lose contact with the yellow jersey’s group are the winner of stage 13 last year Serguei Ivanov (KAT) and the runner-up in stage seven, Valls Ferri (FOT).
After his mechanical incident, Moreau (GCE) has returned to the peloton. With 8km to climb, Sastre is 4’10" behind the escapees but the peloton is yet to reach that point.
The peloton is at the 108km mark, 6’10" behind the escapees. Astana continue to lead the bunch as it spits Yaroslav Popovych out the back...
Moreau has stopped on the side of the road with mechanical problems.
Iglisnki (AST), Vogondy (FDJ), Knees (MRM), Thomas (SKY), Le Mevel (FDJ), Capecchi (FOT), Nocentini (ALM)... are some of the riders who have lost contact with the peloton.
McEwen is the first to lose contact with the peloton as it begins the ascent of the Soulor pass...
The peloton is being led by a mix of teams: Noval from Astana, Sorensen from Saxo Bank and Roelandts of Omega Pharma-Lotto have been doing a lot of the work lately. The bunch has arrived at the base of the Soulor with a deficit of 7’25" to the seven escapees.
At the foot of the col du Soulor, Sastre is 4’55" behind the stage leaders.
As the leaders begin the ascent of the third climb today, the peloton is at 7’50". Sastre is insisting with his escape on a day when the wind is strong at the top of the mountains although it’s relatively still in the valley where Sastre is currently riding.
The seven escapees have begun the ascent of the col du Soulor. This is 11.9km long with an average gradient of 7.8 per cent. The pass reaches an altitude of 1,474m and is at the 117.5km mark of today’s stage.
Remi Pauriol is one of the riders in the lead group today. He first competed with the professionals at the end of 2004 when he was a ’stagiaire’ - ie. apprentice - for the AG2R team but they didn’t offer him a contract. He trialled with Credit Agricole the following September and they gave him a gig for 2006. He raced the Giro and finished 122nd, and came second overall in Paris-Correze in the week after the Tour de France. The next year, Boasson Hagen would win this three-stage French race.
Milram’s mechanic is about to give Thomas Rohregger another wheel. He has punctured for the second time in stage 17.
The escapees are pulling away from the chase by Sastre who has been on his own between the breakaway and the peloton since Konovalovas retreated to the peloton before the Marie-Blanque climb. The 2008 champion crested the second climb of the day 1’20" behind but he’s now at 3’00". The peloton is at the 94km mark, 8’00" behind Flecha’s group of seven.
The Slovenian in the escape today, Kristjan Koren, was the man who instigated the move almost as soon as racing began. He is riding the Tour for the first time this year. In 2009, he raced for Bottoli Nordelettrica Ramonda and finished fifth in the Baby Giro in June. That race was won by Cayetano Sarmiento, and Sky recruit Peter Kennaugh - who Shane Sutton believes is a future Tour de France winner - was third at 14 seconds. Koren joined Liquigas at the start of this year.
He got to withing 1’20" of the seven stage leaders but Sastre (CTT) is now 3’00" behind Flecha (SKY), Boasson Hagen (SKY), Koren (LIQ), Burghardt (BMC), Pauriol (COF) and Perez Moreno (EUS)...
Sean Yates recently told LeTour.fr his thoughts on the stage. "While it’s good to have two in the lead, I’m realistic about what’s going to happen. We should keep the escape alive over the Soulor and that means they should lead at the foot of the Tourmalet... but it WILL get caught." And the winner? "Alberto," responded Yates without hesitation. "Saxo Bank will surely try something but I’m not convinced that it will succeed but I’m sure Riis has a plan..."
LeTour.fr recently contacted Sean Yates from Team Sky to get his thoughts on the stage. "It’s nice to have two guys in the move," said the Brit about Flecha and Boasson Hagen. "We missed out in the last couple of stages... on the day to Pau we almost had someone in the move but they got pulled back just before Lance joined the breakaway and it was a bit of a shame really. "Today we said at the start that we really wanted to have someone in the breakaway and ’Eddy’ and Flecha went with the move."
The wind is strong at the finish and although it’s been very wet early today, the sun is now shining for the big crowd that has made the difficult journey to this spectacular location.
This is a rider from the Omega Pharma team at the head of the peloton, followed by Nicki Sorensen. They have increased their pace a little and one of the riders who has dropped behind a little is Nicolas Roche (ALM).
Kelly had agreed to do the ride and even though he was given a 100-year-old bike and old-style knitted knicks (ie. bike shorts), he went through with the deal and made it all the way to the top of the 2,115m high mountain pass.
Yesterday Sean Kelly was invited for a ride from St-Marie-de-Campan to the site of today’s stage finish on the col du Tourmalet. The former professional originally declined. "I don’t have a bike."
"That’s okay," came the reply, "we’ll get you one."
"But I don’t have any kit."
"That’s okay, we’ll get you some... and shoes and all you need."
He was later presented with a bike that was from 1910 - single gear ("a 42x24" Kelly confirmed this morning). (continued...)
The peloton is at the 63km mark and 8’20" behind the seven leaders. In between is a counter-attack from Sastre who was 1’20" behind at the top of the second climb but is now at 1’45".
Benjamin Noval (AST) led the peloton to the top of the second climb 7’50" behind Flecha’s septet.
Of the seven in the lead group, two were also on the attack in stage 17 of last year’s Tour. Perez Moreno and Pauriol were part of a 16-man escape group that splintered over the final climbs and was eventually absorbed by an attack by Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck.
The rider who had been on the attack, Konovalovas (CTT) is going to be caught by the peloton in the final kilometer of the second climb.
The eighth rider over the top of the Marie-Blanque is Sastre. His deficit was just 1’20" at the 56.5km mark.
1. Flecha (SKY) 15pts 2. Koren (LIQ) 13pts 3. Perez Moreno (EUS) 11pts 4. Pauriol (COF) 9pts 5. Kolobnev (KAT) 8pts 6. Burghardt (BMC) 7pts 7. Boasson Hagen (SKY) 6pts
There are a number of riders being dropped by the peloton. Noval of the Astana team is setting the pace of the yellow jersey’s peloton which is 8’40" behind the escapees.
The leaders are 1km from the top of the col de Marie-Blanque. They are going cross-eyed from the effort of keeping on top of their gears and Kolobnev and Burghardt are struggling to maintain the tempo that’s being set by Boasson Hagen at the front of the escape.
Carlos Sastre is closing in on the escapees who are now on the steep part of the Marie-Blanque climb - which essentially has a gradient steeper than 11 per cent for the final four kilometers. The 2008 Tour champion is 2’45" behind the seven stage leaders. The peloton is at 9’30" and riders - including Eisel, Cavendish, Roux - are being dropped.
“Today we will be able to judge the real strength of Alberto and Andy, we’ll know who the winner of the Tour is today," said Yvon Sanquer. "But Alberto shall not ignore the attitude of Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez.”
“If race conditions permit, Alberto will want to go write his name on this stage, Yvon Sanquer told LeTour.fr this morning. “It is certain that the way things are done is important, but there’s also the reality of the objective. There are many ways to win the Tour, it can be done with or without stage wins, with great difference or not… and so on. But ultimately, what is remembered is victory."
Contacted by letour.fr before the start today, the manager of the Astana team emphasized the strategic importance of today’s stage: "Alberto is determined to make the best possible stage, because it will be decisive for the outcome of this Tour," said Yvon Sanquer. There are two aspects to this day for Alberto. First of all, there is a strategy to defend his yellow jersey, which is the absolute priority. And then there is the aspect of winning this symbolic stage, with arrival the Tourmalet..."
At the start of the stage, Sastre (CTT) was ranked 15th overall. He promised to attack on the col de Marie-Blanque and he’s true to his word now. He is 9’02" behind Schleck in the general classification after 16 stages and he’s currently gained about five minutes on the peloton with his attack that started at the 24km mark, moments after Sanchez’s crash.
Sastre is still 3’35" behind the seven stage leaders who are now 5km from the top of the second climb today. The peloton is 8’50" behind.
One of the Quickstep riders, Dries Devenyns, celebrates his 27th birthday today.
Sastre is now chasing the seven stage leaders on his own. Konovalovas has been left behind by his team leader...
There is visibility of about 40 meters at the top of the col du Tourmalet at 1.30pm. There a large crowds already on hand at the site of the finish but they are allo wrapped up in raincoats or huddled under umbrellas. It is misty but not raining at the moment... although it has been very wet earlier today.
The leaders begin the ascent of the Marie-Blanque with an advantage of 3’55" to Sastre and Konovalovas and 7’50" to the peloton.
Sastre’s duo are 3’35" behind the seven leaders - Flecha, Boasson Hagen, Koren, Kolobnev, Burghardt, Pauriol and Perez Moreno...
Sanchez spent a few minutes back in the peloton before returning to the race doctor’s car. He has pulled his arm warmers down to reveal abrasions on his right elbow which is now being treated by the race’s medical staff.
The leaders covered 43.8km in the first hour of stage 17.
Of the seven in the lead of the stage, two have previously won a stage of the Tour de France. Juan Antonio Flecha is a regular aggressor but only once has he made an escape last all the way to the finish and take the victory, that was in 2003 in Toulouse. And Marcus Burghardt won the 17th stage of the 2008 race, ahead of Carlos Barredo after the two were in an escape for most of the stage...
There are five Astana riders ahead of the peloton which is now about 7’30" behind the seven stage leaders. Sastre and Konovalovas are still at 3’10" with their counter-attack.
Sanchez is lingering at the rear of the peloton and talking to the winner of the ’Fighting Spirit’ award from two days ago, Carlos Barredo (QST). The Spaniard who crashed around the 23km mark doesn’t appear to have any torn clothing but he did spend a long time on the road before standing up...
At the site of the intermediate sprint at the 33km mark, the peloton was 6’25" behind the seven escapees.Contador is currently having a chat with Paulinho of the RadioShack team.
The Flecha septet is 3’05" ahead of Sastre and Konovalovas and 5’10" ahead of the peloton.
After his fall, around the 23km mark, Sanchez has returned to the peloton which is at the 30km mark and led by the Astana team.
The points for the first intermediate sprint of stage 17, at 33km, were won by: 1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) 6pts 2. Juan Antonio Flecha (SKY) 4pts 3. Alexandr Kolobnev (KAT) 2pts
The seven escapees are about to contest the first intermediate sprint.
Sanchez is closing in on the peloton which continues to refrain from setting fast tempo. The leader of Euskaltel has four team-mates with him.
The peloton is 4’30" behind the seven leaders at the 28km mark.
Sastre and Konovalovas are 3’15" behind the seven stage leaders. Alex Vega of the Cervelo team has explained to France Televisions that, because they had no rider in the lead group, they’ve sent Konovalovas and Sastre on the attack... the Spaniard started his attack at the same time that Contador called a truce and insisted that the peloton wait for Sanchez who is yet to return to the peloton.
The bunch continues to ride at a tranquil pace while Sanchez chases to get back to the peloton after his crash. The delay has increased the advantage for the escapees to 3’50"...
Sastre has caught up with Konovalovas around the 27km mark. They are now in pursuit of the seven stage leaders.
At the time of the crash, the peloton was 3’25" behind the seven stage leaders.
Sastre is still on the attack ahead of the peloton which is waiting for the return of four Euskaltel riders.
There are three Eusktaltel riders with Sanchez as he starts to ride again. The crash happened at the 24km mark.
Although the rider in third is still being tended to by the medical staff, the peloton had to keep rolling. Contador is calling for a truce in the peloton and everyone but Sastre is listening. Sastre has ridden ahead of the bunch which is essentially waiting for the crash victim.
There has been a crash involving the rider in third overall, Samuel Sanchez of the Euskaltel team. He is lying on the road and is being treated by the race doctor.
The counter-attacker is closing in on the leaders. Konovalovas is 2’15" behind Flecha’s group and the peloton is at 3’10".
There is another counter-attack happening; at the 18km mark, Ignatas Konovalovas is off in pursuit of the seven escapees.
Yaroslav Popovych is trying to breakaway but he’s being heavily marked by the Astana team and the effort by the RadioShack rider achieved nothing other than pulling back the advantage of Flecha’s group.
The seven escapees are 3’10" ahead of the peloton that is now at the 17km mark.
Gutierrez, Pauriol and Lloyd have been chased down by the peloton.
There has come an attack at the front of the peloton. Sastre moved ahead of the Astana team and appeared ready to try his luck. He hesitated and then team-mate Daniel Lloyd launched a move. He and a Cofidis rider, Auge, and Gutierrez are now in pursuit of the seven stage leaders. The chasing trio was 3’55" behind at the 13.5km mark.
One of the Lampre team has quit the Tour today. Simon Spilak has just peeled off his race number and is no longer in the race. There are 171 riders still competing in the 97th Tour.
The points for the cat-4 climb at the start of the stage were won by: 1. Kolobnev (KAT) 3pts 2. Pauriol (COF) 2pts 3. Flecha (SKY) 1pt The escapees are now 2’50" ahead of the peloton.
Of the seven in the lead, the highest on GC is Remi Pauriol who started the day in 36th place 52’11" behind Andy Schleck.
With the advantage of the seven escapees up to 1’50", there are a number of riders in the peloton taking an opportunity to answer the call of nature. The Astana team is policing the front of the peloton - and recently chased down a counter-attack from an AG2R rider - and they appear happy with the selection. The advantage of Boasson Hagen’s group is expected to grow quickly now...
The riders in the lead of the 17th stage are:
Juan Antonio Flecha (SKY)
Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY)
Kristjan Koren (LIQ)
Aleksandre Kolobnev (KAT)
Marcus Burghardt (BMC)
Remi Pauriol (COF)
Ruben Perez Moreno (EUS) Their advantage on the peloton is 1’30".
As the escape group of seven riders continues to increase its lead, the riders in the yellow and white jerseys - Contador and Schleck - are having a discussion in the peloton that’s led by the Astana team.
Kristjian Koren of the Liquigas team is one of numerous who are trying to escape the peloton at the moment. We will report the other names once the numbers are confirmed.
The winner of the 2008 Tour has said this morning that he plans to attack on the second climb of the day. Contrary to a previous newsflash that stated that there were three climbs in stage 17, there are actually four - including the category-4 cote de Renoir (at 13.5km). Carlos Sastre says he will try and breakaway on the steep, climb that starts at the 46.5km mark.
The official start of the 17th stage of the 2010 Tour de France was at 12.30pm. There are 172 riders still in the race with no one retiring on the rest day.
The final day of racing in the mountains has three climbs on the itinerary. The first is the category-one col de Marie-Blanque, a 9.3km long ascent with an average gradient of 7.6 per cent. Then comes the category-one col du Soulor - 11.9km long at 7.8 percent... and the final giant, the col du Tourmalet - 18.6km long with an average gradient of 7.5 per cent. It’s been pouring rain this morning and the temperature at the finish is about 14 degrees Celsius now.
Andy Schleck is back in the white jersey that he’s won on the two previous occasions that he’s contested the Tour. The leader of the youth classification has an advantage of 4’53” over the next best under-26 rider, Robert Gesink (RAB). Gesink is sixth in the general classification while Schleck is second. In third in the young rider prize is Roman Kreuziger (LIQ) who is at 7’50”… and then comes Julien El Fares (COF) who is 40’53” behind the Luxembourger from Saxo Bank.
Christophe Moreau (GCE) earned 60 points for the mountains classification when he joined the escape group on Tuesday and led over both the col du Tourmalet and the col d’Aubsique. He is now ranked second with a total tally of 128 points but Anthony Charteau is still wearing the polka-dot jersey with 143pts. Another member of the escape group on the day the race took in four passes – Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque – is ranked third. Cunego has 99 points while Casar is 4th with 93pts.
The 17th stage is definitely not one for the sprinters. Thor Hushovd took back the green jersey with his 10th place in stage 16 and now leads Alessandro Petacchi by four points – 191 to 187. Mark Cavendish is third with 162 points. There are two intermediate sprints during this last day of racing in the mountains. Points were be awarded in Bidos (at 30km) and Adast (at 141.5km).
Number 21 is near the back of the bunch as it rides through the neutral zone. Lance Armstrong was sixth in stage 16 after spending the day in an escape group on the eve of the second rest day.
The winner of the Tour in 2007 and 2009 is in the lead of the general classification by eight seconds. Alberto Contador wears the yellow jersey for the third day in the 2010 Tour de France. The former racer leader, Andy Schleck is confident that he can take back the yellow jersey, saying on Tuedays, “There’s only one chance left and that’s the Tourmalet. I think I can do it. I hope I can do it.” Samuel Sanchez is ranked third, two minutes behind, while Denis Menchov is fourth at 2’13".
The peloton is rolling through the 6.8km neutral zone at the start of the stage. While we wait for them to arrive at the site of the official start we will review the various prize classifications after 16 stages (and a prologue). The race is expected to begin at around 12.30pm.
The riders in the four prize jerseys are waiting for the ’depart fictif’ in Pau. Andy, Thor, Alberto and Anthony all have arm warmers on as they wait for starters orders. It’s cold and wet today. The torrential rain that fell on Pau earlier today has abated but the roads are still damp and clouds cover the course in the Pyrenees-Atlantique and Haute Pyrenees departments.
And on the rest day it started to rain...! What promises to be an epic stage of the Tour de France - from Pau to the Col du Tourmalet is due to start at 12.15pm. The conditions are wet, wet and wetter on the 174km course that takes in three major mountain passes - the Marie-Blanque, Soulor and Tourmalet at the finish. Live coverage of this highly anticipated stage will commence shortly.