It looks like it’s all over for defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, as he struggled on three mountain passes in Stage 16 on Wednesday and dropped from 4th to 7th in the overall battle for 1st place.
Evans’ teammate Tejay Van Garderen (a native of Tacoma, Washington) also lost some time on the leaders, but did well enough that he moved up one place into 6th overall.
While Evans’ BMC teammates rallied around their suffering leader in an attempt to help him to the finish, Van Garderen was allowed to ride ahead to solidify his lead in the white jersey competition for best young rider.
Meanwhile, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler took a solo victory in a stage that featured four high mountain passes in the Pyrenees — Col d’Aubique, Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aspin and Col de Peyresourde.
Bradley Wiggins (Team SKY) continued to tighten his hold on the yellow jersey, finishing with teammate Chris Froome in 2nd place and Vincenzo Nibali in 3rd.
Interviewed after the race, BMC cycling George Hincapie said Evans had some kind of stomach problem and did not feel well. He said the team decided it was best to let Van Garderen go ahead.
Van Garderen said, “I’m thrilled with how I’m doing, but it’s a pity that Cadel has fallen back a bit.”
More climbing in the Pyrenees follows Thursday, concluding with a mountain top finish.
Responding to doping allegations, RadioShack cyclist Frank Schleck did not start the race Wednesday morning. The Luxembourg cyclist tested positive on Saturday for the banned diuretic Xipamide. He was in 12th place overall.
Schleck has asked for another sample to be tested. If that proves positive, “a complaint will be filed against an unspecified person for poisoning,” he said in a statement reported by ESPN.
The World Anti-Doping Association doesn’t require an automatic suspension during an investigation for Xipamide doping, because there can be legitimate reasons for it.
Top 10 overall
|1.||GBR WIGGINS Bradley||101||SKY PROCYCLING||74h 15′ 32”|
|2.||GBR FROOME Christopher||105||SKY PROCYCLING||74h 17′ 37”||+ 02′ 05”|
|3.||ITA NIBALI Vincenzo||51||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||74h 17′ 55”||+ 02′ 23”|
|4.||BEL VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen||111||LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM||74h 21′ 18”||+ 05′ 46”|
|5.||ESP ZUBELDIA Haimar||19||RADIOSHACK-NISSAN||74h 22′ 45”||+ 07′ 13”|
|6.||USA VAN GARDEREN Tejay||9||BMC RACING TEAM||74h 23′ 27”||+ 07′ 55”|
|7.||AUS EVANS Cadel||1||BMC RACING TEAM||74h 23′ 38”||+ 08′ 06”|
|8.||SLO BRAJKOVIC Janez||181||ASTANA PRO TEAM||74h 24′ 41”||+ 09′ 09”|
|9.||FRA ROLLAND Pierre||29||TEAM EUROPCAR||74h 25′ 42”||+ 10′ 10”|
|10.||FRA PINOT Thibaut||146||FDJ-BIGMAT||74h 27′ 15”||+ 11′ 43”|