Spectacular day of cycling in Pyrenees
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As the Tour de France takes a break on Wednesday with a rest day in Pau, RFI’s Philip Turle reports on Tuesday’s action in the Pyrenees.
With four massive cols, it was billed as a major day in the Tour de France and the start of stage 16 lived up to the hype. There were almost constant attacks for the first two hours with nearly all the riders in the pack trying their luck.
There was also strong sense that seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstong would attempt to win a stage victory. At the age of 38, this is the American’s last appearence in the race and Tuesday’s 199 kilometre stage 16 between Bagneres de Luchon and Pau in the Pyrenees would have been the perfect place for the Boss to show the public he can still do it, just like in the old days. The day was dominated by climbs up four Tour mountain favourites the Peyresoude, the Aspen, the Aubisque and the legendary Tourmalet; rarely has a single Tour day offered such breathtaking scenery.
It was Armstrong who led a breakaway group of nine riders almost from start to finish, including his teammate Chris Horner. But suffering from fatigue and with his age against him, Armstrong was beaten over the finishing line by France’s Pierrick Fedrigo and ended the race in sixth place.
The Texan admitted afterwards that he had had a tough day and was not quick enough to beat Fedrigo. But he said he was still alive and had trained hard.
Pierrick Fedrigo, riding for Bouygues Telecom and who has now won three stage victories, has handed France its sixth stage win in this year’s Tour de France.
As far as the overall ratings are concerned, it is Alberto Contador of Spain who remains in the lead and he keeps hold of the overall leader's yellow jersey. But Contador only has an eight-second advance over Andy Schlek of Luxembourg, who lost the yellow jersey on Monday after his bike chain came off.
Schlek has said he is determined to take his revenge. But no revenge came from Schlek on Tuesday and no attempt was made by Contador to increase his slim lead over Schlek. Instead, they just marked each other.
There is speculation that the final battle between the two favourites will come after Wednesday’s rest day, in the last Pyrenees mountain stage on Thursday between Pau and the Tourmalet, which for the first time will feature twice in the same Tour de France.
It will also provide the two favourites with the perfect decor for a ruthless fight.
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