The 16th stage of this year’s Tour de France saw(SaxoBank Sungard) throw down the challenge to the Schleck brothers(Leopard Trek) in the final climb of the day. Contador was riding in the peloton and came out fast at about the 20 km mark to challenge the brothers who answered for a while, but Andy Schleck could not keep with him today. (BMC Racing) and Sammy Sanchez(Eusaltel Euskadi) stuck with Contador to make it a three man race behind the breakaway group.
There were two races going on on the route from Saint Paul-Trois Chateaux to Gap. The gradual climb into the Alps saw an early break away of 10 riders, two of which were Garmin-Cervelo. Just before the last summit(Garmin Cervelo) attacked and split the breakaway. His team mate stayed in the second group until the last minute when Hesjedal served as a leadout man to launch Hushovd to another stage win. Crossing the finish line in order were Hushovd, Edvald Boasson Hagen(Sky), Ryder Hesjedal, Tony Martin(HTC Highroad). When checking the standings of team members in this three week race, it is important to remember that it is a team race and tactics play a large part in the competition. Hesjedal, the only Canadian in the race, did not take the stage win today even though he was best placed to do so. Instead he supported Hushovd to gain another victory, but at the same time edged out Boasson Hagan.
The other race going on was for the ultimate podium position in Paris. Contador showed that his legs are good in the mountains and that the Schlecks are not going to have an easy final ride through the Alps. Cadel Evans(BMC Racing) took up the challenge and finished three seconds before Contador. Overall standings at the end of 70 hours of cycling are in order: Thomas Voeckler(Europecar), Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Sammy Sanchez, Alberto Contador.
For full race statistics and background information, the official TDF site is a valuable source. another good source is Versus.com.
Garmin Cervelo holds onto the title of top team, based on aggregate finishing times.
William Bonnet(FDJ) was eliminated yesterday as he finished outside the time allowed.
Stage 17 Gap to Pinerolo will test the legs of the peloton with four category climbs and a downhill finish.