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TdF Stage 16 Pau – Bagnères-de-Luchon

July 28, 2012

A huge day in the Pyrnees crossing the mountain passes of the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin and Peyresourde with a high point over 2100m. The stage was always going to define the tour and today was certainly no disappointment.

Voeckler attacked early, won every climb, won the stage and gained the mountain jersey. A mad mountaineering adventure worthy of the finest alpinist. After his quiet first week and then last week’s stage win, he has written his name firmly into this year’s race.

The GC race was also dramatic. Evans struggled early, cracked later and lost his chance at retaining his title. He dropped to 7th and is now behind his young team mate. The top three, Wiggins, Froome and Nibali, escaped the rest and finished together. The Sky pair did not allow the Italian even one second. The podium favourites gained over a minute on the rest of the field. Further back Klöden lost a place to Roche but both are still outside the top ten.

Wiggins has passed one the remaining few tests in this year’s tour. There were many attacks but Sky knew who to chase and who to let go. Even when so much was happening around them, their climbing tempo was steady and they had cool heads on a hot day. Only on the last climb were Wiggins and Froome alone chasing Nibali. However, they gradually pegged him back and finished the stage together.

Frank Schleck did not start the stage after failing a dope test. The predictable but unbelievable response about poisoning have started already. RadioShackNissanTrek’s season continues to be very problematic. Schleck’s career may have just ended.

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