Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TDF Stage 17 - A Time To Climb For Astana & Saxo Bank

Team Astana rider and leader's yellow jersey Alberto Contador (L) of Spain cycles with teammate Lance Armstrong of the U.S. after the start of the 16th stage of the 96th Tour de France cycling race between Martigny and Bourg Saint Maurice, July 21, 2009. Image Credit: Reuters via Universal Sports

TDF Stage 17 - A Time To Climb For Astana & Saxo Bank

Stage 16 featured only two major climbs where as today there will be five climbs that will total over 12,000 feet if they were attached bottom to top to each other.

Stage 17 starts with the day's first climb and all of the peaks to be conquered as follows:

* The Category 1 Cormet de Roselend, an 18.1 km climb, which averages 5.7 percent and summits at km 18.1
* The Category 1 Col des Saisies, a 15.1 km climb, which averages 6 percent and summits at km 56.0
* The Category 2 Côte d'Araches, a 6.3 km climb, which averages 7 percent and summits at km 111.5
* The Category 1 Col de Romme, an 8.8 km climb, which averages 8.9 percent and summits at 140.5
* The Category 1 Col de la Colombière, a 7.5 km climb, which averages 8.5 percent and summits at km 154.5

The last climb, a category 1 named the Col de la Colombiere, has never been used in any Tour de France and may be where the team strategies will come together to try and break up the core of the peloton and attempt to change the order of the General Classification.

Yesterday saw no major changes at the top of the General Classification but all of those people who were ardent fans of Team Astana and Lance Armstrong were not disappointed in events that have led up to today.

On the second of two climbs on the day, the leaders split the peloton and were able to seperate Lance from the main group, at one point by as much as 35 seconds.

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews -

Stage 16:
The road takes a serious turn upward with the hors catégorie Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, a 24.4km climb that averages 6.2 percent and summits at 40.5km.

The race spends about 87km in Italy, before returning to France for the remainder of the Tour. The route leaves Italy at the top of the Category 1 Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard, a 22.6km climb that averages 5.1 percent and summits at 128km.
----
4:11
CPelkey: Back in the peloton, the Saxo Bank team is putting two riders up front.
----
4:14
CPelkey: Our leaders are now 44km from the finish.
4:16
CPelkey: Astana is again at the front of the peloton. The pace has ramped up and riders are being spit off the back again. The most notable victim is Giro winner Denis Menchov.
4:17
CPelkey: We have a group of five riders who have eased off the front of the lead group.

They include Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Jurgen van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Pierrick Fedrigo (BBox) and .... awww never mind. They're back together.
4:18
CPelkey: Our leaders are now about 10.5km from the summit.

We may soon see things hot up back in the peloton.
4:22
CPelkey:

Saxo Bank has two riders at the front... the pace is such that the "peloton" is down to about 17 riders.
4:24
CPelkey:

One of the Saxos has blown. The remaining Saxo Bank rider at the front is trailed by three Astana riders and Contador. Andy Schleck is on his wheel.
----
4:32
CPelkey: Bang! Andy Schleck attacks
4:32
CPelkey: Frank Schleck, Nibali, Contador, Wiggins .... very small group there.
4:32
CPelkey: Armstrong is not in there.
4:33
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is setting tempo. Kloden is the only Astana in this group, other than Contador.
4:34
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is pouring it on. Contador is on his wheel. Wiggins is behind him.
4:35
CPelkey: The Armstrong group is about 35 seconds behind.
4:35
CPelkey: That Armstrong group includes Sastre, Vande Velde and Evans.
----
4:37
CPelkey: Back in the Schleck/Contador group, we have both Schlecks, Wiggins, Nibali, Contador and Kloden.
4:37
CPelkey: The final 5km of this climb are the hardest part of the col, so no surprise to see the Schlecks throw down here.
----
4:38
CPelkey: Now Armstrong has attacked out of the group he was in.
4:38
CPelkey: He only has Columbia's Kim Kirchen with him.
4:39
CPelkey: Armstrong is now joined by Vande Velde as Kirchen fades.
----
4:40
CPelkey: Armstrong is back on his own. He's caught and passed Frank Schleck who got dropped by the yellow jersey group.

4:42
CPelkey: Oohhh-la-la-la! screams the French announcer as Armstrong rejoins the Contador group
----
4:44
CPelkey: Armstrong is with the yellow jersey group. Other riders have joined.

Interestingly, that group is now being led by Jens Voigt.
4:44
CPelkey:

It's a tough descent. It's quite technical. Fortunately despite the clouds, it's not raining.
----
4:46
CPelkey: Voigt is still setting tempo in the Contador group. Hard as he's working, they are about to be joined by Sastre and a few others... including Vande Velde.
4:47
CPelkey:

Contador group is over the top, at 2:12.
----
4:50
CPelkey: Well, the hardest working man of the day has to be Jens Voigt. He busted his ... uhhh... tail ... in the break all day and then dropped back to set tempo for his teammates on the toughest part of the climb. He now has a chance to catch his breath and refuel a bit.
4:52
CPelkey: It's impressive. Wiggins is with that Contador group. Who'da thunk it two weeks ago.
4:53
CPelkey: Voigt has crashed.
4:54
CPelkey: Man, that looked like it hurt. He hit a bump.... a transition of pavement it looks like. He hit the deck hard.
----
4:57
CPelkey: Frank Schleck has regained contact with the Contador group.
====
5:00
CPelkey: The yellow jersey group is growing as the big GC men are showing a bit of restraint on the descent. That's understandable.
----
5:18
CPelkey: The yellow jersey group does include Sastre and they finish at about 1:00.
5:19
CPelkey: Evans, by the way, is still out on the road. He's probably lost 3:00 again today.
5:20
CPelkey: Word from the road is that Voigt may have broken his collarbone. We hope that's the extent of it. That crash was fugly.
5:21
CPelkey: Evans comes it with a group that finished at 3:55.
----
5:25
CPelkey: Preliminary stage results:
# 1. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskad, 159km in 4:14:20
# 2. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux, at 0:06
# 3. Pierrick Fedrigo Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:06
# 4. Nicolas Roche Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:06
# 5. Broeck Jurgen Van Den Silence - Lotto at 00:06
# 6. Amaël Moinard Cofidis Le Credit En Ligne at 00:06
# 7. Franco Pellizotti Liquigas at 00:11
# 8. Stephane Goubert Ag2r La Mondiale at 00:11
# 9. Christophe Moreau Agritubel at 00:59
# 10. Alberto Contador Astana at 00:59
# 11. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 00:59
# 12. Lance Armstrong Astana at 00:59
# 13. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 00:59
# 14. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 00:59
# 15. Rigoberto Uran Caisse D’epargne at 00:59
# 16. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 00:59
# 17. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 00:59
# 18. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 00:59
# 19. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:59
# 20. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:59
# 21. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 00:59
# 22. Laurent Lefevre Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:59
# 23. Yury Trofimov Bbox Bouygues Telecom at 00:59
# 24. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team at 00:59
# 25. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 00:59
# 26. Igor Anton Euskaltel - Euskadi at 00:59
# 27. David Zabriskie Garmin - Slipstream at 01:14

5:26
CPelkey: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

# 1. Alberto Contador Astana, 67:33:15
# 2. Lance Armstrong Astana, at 1:37
# 3. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 01:46
# 4. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 02:17
# 5. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 02:26
# 6. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 02:51
# 7. Christophe Le Mevel Francaise Des Jeux at 03:09
# 8. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 03:25
# 9. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team at 03:52
# 10. Christian Vande Velde Garmin - Slipstream at 03:59
# 11. Mikel Astarloza Euskaltel - Euskadi at 04:38
# 12. Roman Kreuziger Liquigas at 04:40
# 13. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc at 05:05
# 14. Rinaldo Nocentini Ag2r La Mondiale at 05:26
# 15. Sandy Casar Francaise Des Jeux at 05:40
# 16. Vladimir Karpets Team Katusha at 05:56
END OF STAGE 16 UPDATE

For those of you following yesterday's coverage, there was a frightening crash with Jens Voigt at the top of the day's final descent. The Saxo Bank rider lost control of his bike (most likely after hitting a bump) and was hurled to the ground, sliding along on his face. Fortunately it looked a little worse than it turned out; Jens fractured the bone below his eye and suffered cuts to his face and right side, but is expected to make a full recovery. We wish him the best.

Stage 17 Route Map - Image Credit: VeloNews

The 17th stage of the 96th edition of the Tour de France, is a 169.5-kilometer race from Bourg Saint Maurice to Le Grand Bornand.

The last day in the mountains in the Tour de France is always dubbed the Queen's Stage and the five peak run short in distance but savage in effort. There are four category one climbs and one cat two ascent creating a crocodile teeth parcours, and certain to cause shakeups in the general classification.

We pick up the action in the stage with a little less than 80km and three climbs to go. Up ahead are The Category 2 Côte d'Araches, the Category 1 Col de Romme, and the Category 1 Col de la Colombière which may prove to be the back breaker if team strategies pay off.

Today's weather may present a problem. The forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of rain throughout the day. It's partly cloudy, with temperatures around 22°C (72°F). The winds are gusting up to 38kph at points, but they're not that high at the start. It's a potentially rough day in that one may expect more crashes due to slick conditions.

Stage 17 Profile - Image Credit: Universal Sports

This excerpted and edited from VeloNews(VN), CyclingNews(CN), VERSUS(VS), and various resources -

(CN) 1.
14:45 CEST - Hushovd now takes maxiumum points at that intermediate sprint. He's 5'27 ahead of the bunch, and doesn't appear under any pressure. He'll push onwards, grab some scoff in the feed zone and then aim to get over the next climb and take the points in the valley.

Hushovd gestures to the TV cameras, holding the green jersey and appearing to say 'this is mine'. He may well be aiming to build a substantial points lead before Paris, so nobody can say Cavendish' disqualification won him the competition.
2.
14:49 CEST - Sandy Casar started today 5'40" back, so that's quite possibly one reason why Saxo Bank are riding. That, and putting Astana under pressure.

The group is 1'31" back from Hushovd, while the peloton is 5'42" behind.

Hushovd really is going well in this Tour; there's not many sprinters who would attack on a mountain stage, let alone one as tough as this...
3.
15:00 CEST (86.5km remaining from 169.5km) - Woah! Hushovd overcooked a bend and nearly did a Frank Schleck Tour de Suisse 2008 - one more second and he'd have been up and over the barricade. He locked it up, went into the grass and quickly got back onto the road without too much delay. Then, he made a gesture as if to say it was no big thing!
4.
15:04 CEST - The Tour de France is certainly far from over, and there is no guarantee that Contador will keep this yellow jersey today or even on Sunday in Paris. Saxo Bank appears to be intent on doing something today, and are controlling the front of the peloton with Cancellara and O'Grady.

Up front, Hushovd is hurtling down the descent like a madman hoping to stay clear for the second sprint bonus of the day. We will dare to say the chasers behind won't be too concerned to catch him.
5.
15:05 CEST - Crash! That same corner where Hushovd nearly went off road claimed a few riders from the chase group. Txurruka went down, but is getting a new bike. Looked as if Menchov hit the deck, too.
6.
15:06 CEST - The directors in the team cars will be aware of the wrecks ahead and will be telling their riders to be careful on that bend. Fortunately, the apex of the turn has an earthen berm which would stop any rider from plummeting down into the valley below.
---------
Situation:

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo Test Team)

Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence Lotto), Ruben Perez, Egoi Martinez, Amets Txurruka, Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel Euskadi), Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Remi Pauriol and Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Maxime Monfort (Columbia HTC), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre NGC), Pierre Rolland, Thomas Voeckler (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r La Mondiale), George Hincapie (Columbia HTC), Linus Gerdeman (Milram) at 1.05

Peloton at 5.01.
----
(VN)3:04
CPelkey:

Txurruka and Menchov decked it on the same turn.
3:05
CPelkey: Part of the problem is that the road is wet.
3:06
CPelkey: Menchov is up. He's fine. Txurruka had to get a new bike. He's back on the road.
3:07
CPelkey: Menchov has crashed again.

Coming through town he hit a white line on the road and fell.
3:07
CPelkey: He's back up.

3:08

3:09
CPelkey: That's the feedzone, which is coming up in a few kilometers.
3:10
CPelkey: With all of the road problems in the break, Hushovd has extended his lead to 2:00 over the bulk of the break, which now includes 19 riders. Menchov and Txurruka are chasing back on.
3:11
CPelkey: The peloton is chasing at 5:35.

Hushovd is now 75km from the finish. As a reminder, now that we're past the halfway mark, we'll start listing distances in kilometers-to-go.
3:12
[Comment From John Puziss ]
Why is Pellizotti letting hushovd getting 1st in KOM points on these Cols?
3:12
CPelkey: Because it has no real impact on the KOM contest.
3:13
[Comment From tonym ]
What's up with this white line. Seems causing a lot of problems.
3:14
CPelkey: It's the reflective paint used on roads to mark crosswalks and lane dividers. The stuff is slicker than sn... errrr... it's rather slippery during and after rain storms.
3:15
CPelkey: The men in the break are going through the feed zone.
3:16
3:21
CPelkey: Time for a time check:
With 65km remaining, Hushovd is now 2:13 ahead of the rest of the break.

The peloton is at 6:01.
----
3:31
CPelkey: The peloton is on the Côte d'Araches. Hushovd is still 1:50 ahead of the rest of the break and 4:56 ahead of the peloton.

The rain has stopped and the sun is out.
3:32
CPelkey: The tempo in the peloton is such that Evans is still trailing.
3:33
CPelkey: The sky is blue. It's nice out there.
3:34
CPelkey: Astana is now setting tempo at the front. Paulinho and Zubeldia are doing the bulk of the work now.
3:37
CPelkey: Hushovd is 1km from the summit.
3:40
CPelkey: Up-and-over. Thor Hushovd crests the Côte d'Araches. Big crowds, too.
3:41
CPelkey: Pellizotti grabs the second points atop the climb. He crests at 1:09
----
(CN) 1.
16:02 CEST (40.7km remaining from 169.5km) - Hushovd doesn't seem interested at all in trying to tackle the final climbs at his previous pace. He's soft pedaling, letting the group come up to him. He's only 27 seconds ahead now.
2.
16:05 CEST (39km remaining from 169.5km) - The French president, Nikolas Sarkozy is in the race caravan today. He'll be surely treated to the best the Tour de France has to offer on the climbs up ahead. The Romme and Colombiere will be the site of a huge battle for the GC between Astana, Saxo Bank and the Garmin-Slipstream boys.

Hushovd has been caught by a rider who took a flier from the groupu. It's Carlos Barredo of Quick Step. He comes by Hushovd and taps him on his mighty hip to tell him to get on the wheel. The size difference between these two riders is striking - and kind of funny, too.
3.
16:07 CEST - Hushovd doesn't want to have anything to do with Barredo's pace. He sits up, the Spaniard goes on and maintains his gap over the big chase group. The bunch behind is closing in quickly - just 1'34 now.
4.
16:07 CEST - Attack! Carlos Sastre has gone on the base of the Romme, he's marked by an Agritubel rider.
5.
16:08 CEST - Sastre is pedaling an angry pace, fueled by the snub of the press and the ASO which did not give the defending champion his proper due in the race programme. Saxo Bank is still at the front setting pace - no counters yet.
6.
16:10 CEST - The Saxo Bank chase is not letting Sastre get any distance. They're closing in, and catching remnants of the breakaway. Sastre isn't giving up yet though!
----
1.
16:11 CEST - Hushovd is gritting his teeth as he's passed by the very determined Carlos Sasttre. Hushovd goes backward quickly as the attacks begin to fly.
2.
16:13 CEST - Hmm...it looks like Andy Schleck has been dropped...let's confirm that... looked like the white jersey was back there..
3.
16:13 CEST - The riders' faces are raw emotion now - Sastre huffing and puffing with his face a smiling grimace, the faces behind him are determined, strained. All of these expressions will be captured in our wonderful photo galleries. You can see some examples here.
4.
16:14 CEST - Sastre goes again...he's with Voeckler now... Sastre is giving his all. He's not getting far, though..
5.
16:15 CEST - Correction - Frank and Andy Schleck are still here, along with Armstrong, Contador, Wiggins, Vande Velde and Kloden. They've caught Sastre.
6.
16:17 CEST - Sastre is being dropped and is wtih Pellizotti. Frank Schleck attacked and Armstrong went him; then Andy went, and was covered by Contador. Armstrong was dropped momentarily but got back on, as did Wiggins.
----
1.
16:17 CEST - Van den Broeck is ahead, alone, but the others are coming up to him. They are just 17" back.
2.
16:19 CEST - Most of the break has been caught. Frank Schleck leads behind, with Contador on his wheel. Andy was suffering, but had a break. Now he goes! Contador covers it, but the others have been dropped. Kloden gets up to them. Three together...
3.
16:19 CEST (34km remaining from 169.5km) - Andy Schleck attacks again. Contador jumps on his wheel as does Kloden.
4.
16:19 CEST - Armstrong is back with Wiggins, then Frank Schleck went. Wiggins couldn't respond...
5.
16:20 CEST - Frank Schleck goes now. Wiggins looks to be marking Armstrong.
6.
16:21 CEST - The yellow jersey group now numbers five riders: Contador, Kloden, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck and Van Den Broek
----
1.
16:21 CEST - Wiggins is now leading the chase, with Armstrong on his wheel. Up front, Andy Schleck stalled to get his brother back on. He's riding again now, with Frank, Contador, Kloden, Van Den Broeck also there.

Behind, Wiggins has been joined by Vande Velde, so that will help him.
2.
16:22 CEST - Van Den Broeck has been dropped...four up front... Wiggins, Vande Velde, Armstrong, Rigoberto Uran and Nibali are about ten seconds back.
3.
16:23 CEST - Wiggins and Armstrong have slipped back to a group with Nibali, Uran. Now Zabriskie and Vande Velde have joined to help Wiggins pull back the gap, it looks about 9 seconds at the moment.
4.
16:23 CEST - KOM Pellizotti has dropped off the Sastre, Barredo group
5.
16:24 CEST - Kloden is grimacing...Frank looks strong, Andy under pressure. They need to keep going...even if they haven't distanced Contador and Kloden, they are putting time into the others. The Armstrong/Wiggins group is 25" back.
6.
16:24 CEST - Uran has now dropped out of the Armstrong/Wiggins group
----
(VN)4:22
CPelkey: The gap back to the Wiggins/Armstrong group is about 16 seconds.

4:23
CPelkey: That's the last 1km of the climb.
4:25
CPelkey: Wiggins has Vande Velde setting temp for him.

The two Schleck brothers are now setting tempo in the group of four that includes Kloden and Contador.
4:27
CPelkey: The Wiggins group is now at 45 seconds.
4:28
CPelkey: Va den Broeck is back riding with the Armstrong/Wiggins group.
4:29
CPelkey: So the stage is being led by the Gang of Four: Schleck, Schleck, Contador and Kloden.
4:31
CPelkey: Armstrong has charged out of the group and he's towing Wiggins back up. Mmmmm... an unusual strategy.
4:32
CPelkey: There... he's settled back and Wiggns is now setting tempo.
4:33
CPelkey: The Schleck brothers lead the way over the top of the climb. Let's get some time check. We have 29 tough kilometers to go.
4:34
CPelkey: Frank Schleck, Andy Schleck, Contador and Kloden ... in that order.
4:34
CPelkey: Vande Velde and Nibali have rejoined Armstrong and Wiggins. Still climbing
4:35
CPelkey: They crest the climb at 1:00
4:36
CPelkey: Up next is the Col de la Colombière, a 7.5 km climb, which averages 8.5 percent and summits 15km from the finish.
----
(CN)1.
16:38 CEST - The four are descending now... Kloden nearly hits Frank Schleck's wheel... He stays upright.

Sastre stops with a puncture...
2.
16:39 CEST (26km remaining from 169.5km) - Frank Schleck led his brother, Contador and Kloden over the top of the climb, so the points went in that order.

Andy Schleck is pushing it on the descent. He wants to maintain the gap to those behind, so that they can continue to gain on the next climb.
--------
Situation:

Yellow and white jersey group: Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Andreas Kloden (Astana)

Lance Armstrong (Astana), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) at 1.07

Jurgen Van Den Broek (Silence-Lotto) at ?

Polka dot jersey group at 2.29
----
(VN)
4:38

4:40
CPelkey: The Gang of Four up front now has a lead of 1:18 over the Armstrong Wiggins group. Two Astanas and the Saxo Brothers will be hitting the final climb with a bit of a gap.
4:41
CPelkey: Nibali is trying his best to bridge up to the four leaders.
4:43
CPelkey: So the situation on the road as the four leaders are hitting the base of the climb, is that the Schlecks, Contador and Kloden are now 1:18 ahead of the Armstrong/Wiggins group.
4:43
CPelkey: Nibali has been pulled back by Vande Velde, Wiggins and Armstrong.
----
4:44
CPelkey: Sastre is now back in a group that is more than 3:00 back.
4:44
CPelkey: And we have no idea where Evans is.
4:45
CPelkey: It's still the Schleck brothers setting tempo in the leading foursome.
4:46
CPelkey: The leading four are now 1:20 ahead of the Wiggins group
4:47
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is at the front as they pass beneath the 20km to go banner.
4:48
CPelkey: That is just 5km of hill left before the 15km descent.
4:48
CPelkey: Frank Schleck is now setting tempo.
4:51

4:51
CPelkey: That's an earlier - and rainier - view of the summit ahead.
4:53
CPelkey: Andy Schleck is stetting tempo at the front. Contador and Kloden are on his wheel.
4:53
CPelkey: Vande Velde has been dropped by Nibali, Wiggins and Armstrong.
4:53
CPelkey: The gap back to the Wiggins group is now 1:40.
4:54
CPelkey: Vande Velde is slipping back.
4:55
CPelkey: Our four leaders are 2km from the summit. The gap back to the Wiggins group is 1:43 and Vande Velde is at 1:58.
4:56
CPelkey: Contador has accelerated.
4:56
CPelkey: No ... the Schlecks aren't hodling the tempo... but Kloden has been spit off the back.
4:57
CPelkey: The Schlecks have both fought back... but Kloden is gone.
4:59
CPelkey: The two Schleck brothers are setting tempo at the front. The gap back to Kloden is about 20 seconds. The Wiggins/Armstrong/Nibali group is at 2:01.
5:02
CPelkey: And our three leaders are now 1km from the summit. Again it's the two Schleck brothers setting tempo at the front. Contador is sitting at the back.
----
ARMSTRONG Drops Wiggins 1km from the summit - He is setting up a situation where Astana will have three members on the final podium - first time since 1914!
----
(CN)17:04 CEST - Contador hasn't tried since that jump. Hard to know if he's suffering or saving energy for tomorrow's TT.

They are getting close to the top, then have a high speed descent towards the finish. The two brothers will take turns attacking him on the way down, no doubt.

Kloden is now just over a minute back, while the Wiggins group is 2'32" down. They are reeling him in...

1.
17:06 CEST - Armstrong is chasing now and will try to join up with Kloden. The German is really suffering now as he goes over the summit. He's 1'14" back here...
2.
17:06 CEST - 2.17 back to Armstrong from Kloden
3.
17:07 CEST - The three leaders are on the descent now...

Armstrong goes over the top, 2'06" behind... He's still a minute behind Kloden, and not sure if he'll take that back on the descent.
4.
17:08 CEST - Contador is talking to the two Schlecks...no idea what was discussed. Anyone lip read?

Situation

Yellow and white jersey group: Contador (Astana), Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank)

Andreas Kloden (Astana) at 1.16

Lance Armstrong (Astana) at 2.17

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Bradley Wiggins (Garmin Slipstream) at 2.32

Group including Vladimir Karpets (Katusha), Maxime Monfort (Columbia), Christophe Le Mevel (FDJ) at 5.21
----
(VN)5:14
CPelkey: With fivekm to go, the three leaders are holding an advantage of 1:56 over Kloden, 2:18 ahead of Armstrong and Nibali.
5:14

5:15
CPelkey: With 4km to go, Schlecks are still setting tempo.
5:15
Expand
5:16
Expand
5:17
CPelkey: There seems to be some sort of ad hoc alliance out here on the road.
5:17
CPelkey: Kloden is trailing by about 2:00.
5:17
CPelkey: Armstrong and Nibali are 12 seconds behind Kloden.
5:18
CPelkey: Contador pats Frank Schleck on the back.
5:18
CPelkey: It appears that Contador may be happy to have gapped the other Astanas as much as anyone. It's certainly settled that nagging leadership question.
5:19
CPelkey: In the final kilometer.
5:19
CPelkey: 300 meters to go.
5:19
CPelkey: Frank Schleck wins it!
5:19
CPelkey: Contador is second.
5:20
CPelkey: Kloden and Armstrong and Nibali are together.
5:20
CPelkey: The three chasers are 1km from the finish.
5:21
CPelkey: Armstrong is driving to the line. He's working to minimize the gap.
5:21
CPelkey: The trio is led in by Nibali
5:22
CPelkey: They cross the line at 2:17.
5:22
CPelkey: Kloden was gapped a bit at the end. Maybe another five or six seconds back.
5:23
CPelkey: This was quite the stage. Wiggins crosses at 3:10 or so.
5:27
CPelkey: Here's what this stage did to the GC picture:
# 1. Alberto Contador Astana
# 2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank, at 2:26
# 3. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 03:25
# 4. Lance Armstrong Astana at 03:55
# 5. Andréas KlÖden Astana at 04:44
# 6. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream at 04:53
# 7. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas at 05:09
----
(CN) 17:29 CEST - Andy Schleck is now second overall, 2'26" back, while his brother Frank is third overall. He's 3'25 down.

Armstrong (@3'55), Kloden (4'44) and Wiggins (4'53) are fourth, fifth and sixth overall prior to the time trial. All three are expected to beat the Schlecks, so there could well be another reshuffling..
END OF UPDATES


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