Dessel wins Stage 16; Schleck keeps yellow jersey; Vande Velde loses ground at Tour de France

Facebook Twitter More...

It wasn't the final climb to the highest paved road in the Alps that decided Stage 16 and perhaps the Tour de France, it was the descent.

Christian Vande Velde, left, for instance, lost 35 seconds to the yellow jersey group going over the Cime de la Bonnette-Restefond, but a crash on the way down put him out of contention as he dropped to 6th place, 3:15 behind the yellow jersey.

Frenchman Cyril Dessel of AG2R won the four-man sprint going into Jausiers, after the eight men summiting the Cime de la Bonnette-Restefond split apart on the way down. The first one over, John-Lee Augustyn of Barloworld, actually tumbled off the road and his bike slid down the slope out of reach.

Evans charge

In the trailing yellow jersey group, 3rd overall Cadel Evans led the downhill charge that caused Denis Menchov — considered Evans biggest rival — to lose ground. Evans and Menchov had been content to sit in the yellow jersey group with overall leader Frank Schleck as his Team CSC teammates set the pace throughout the day.

Another mountain stage comes on Wednesday, as the peloton attacks L'Alpe d'Huez for the finish. Then the next big day for the yellow jersey contest comes Saturday with the individual time trial.

Frank Schleck won the most recent Alpe d'Huez stage in 2006.


Vande Velde of Garmin-Chipotle had been hoping to stay high in the standings for the time trial, which is his best event.

But of the six overall leaders on the final climb on the Cime de la Bonnette-Restefond, only Vande Velde mysteriously disappeared from the picture. Neither the commentators on TV nor the updaters on the cycling websites could tell where he was.

Turns out Vande Velde had lost dropped back from the yellow jersey group, but teammate Ryder Hesjedal, who had been in one of the early breakaways, had waited to help Vande Velde get back to within 35 seconds at the summit.

Then, he crashed on the steep, curvy downhill in a last ditch effort to make up the lost time. Interviewed later, a dejected Vande Velde said:

“I was 35 seconds behind on the climb. They we crashed. That's why we lost so much time. I wasn't far off — 35 seconds, and the crash compounded it.

“Anything could happen tomorrow. It's not over.”

Vande Velde finished in 26th place, 4:04 after the winner and about 2:35 after the yellow jersey group. He sits in 6th place overall, 3:15 behind Frank Schleck. Team manager Jonathan Vaughters told VeloNews:

“It's important for people to remember we came into this Tour optimistic about a top-10 finish, and he's still sixth with one more mountain stage before the time trial. He'll just need to tread water for one more day and try to save what he can for the time trial.”

Other victims

Menchov of Rabobank also took a hit on Tuesday. Although he crossed the mountaintop with the yellow jersey group, he lost about 30 seconds on the descent that was driven by Evans.

A South African cyclist, John-Lee Augustyn  of Barloworld, attacked the lead group near the top of  the climb and was the first one over the top. He crashed on the way down, however, misjudging a turn and riding right over the berm. Augustyn splayed out his arms and legs to stop sliding, but his bike kept going down the slope. He picked his way back up to the road and waited for a new bike on the team car.

Team Columbia's George Hincapie made a bid for a stage win on Tuesday, but also fell back slightly on the descent and finished fifth on the day.

Top 10 overall

1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC – Saxo Bank
2 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner, 0.07 behind
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence – Lotto, 0.08
4 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC – Saxo Bank, 0.49
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank, 1.13
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle, 3.15
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia, 3.23
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne, 4.11
9 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi, 4.38
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale, 5.23

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.