Riders took a rest day of sorts before the rest day Wednesday as competitors tweeted they’re just too tired.
This has been a punishing Tour all right, with the result that at least two otherwise tantalizing mountain stages (including today’s) have been busts as far as the lead pack goes.
It was a docile run, enlivened only by an 8-rider breakaway that included ageless — well, aged maybe is more accurate — Lance Armstrong and even more senior French champion Christophe Moreau. In the end a Frenchman, Pierrick Fedrigo, did win — the sixth stage for the host country in this edition of the Tour — and Moreau closed to within 15 points of the polka-dot mountain jersey. In a surprise, Thor Hushovd regained the green jersey from Alessandro Petacchi, who entered the stage with a new doping cloud over his head.
Otherwise the general category stayed the same at the top, with Alberto Contador maintaining an 8-second edge over Andy Schleck following yesterday’s controversial 39-second win. We fantasized a sportsmanlike finish today where Contador rode to within 5 feet of the finish, then stopped for 39 seconds before crossing the line. But it was not to be.
It’s unfortunate not one of the Top 10 riders chose to press any kind of attack, because Stage 16 is one of the toughest in this year’s Tour and by rights should’ve provided some fireworks. World champion Cadel Evans, who fell from the back of the peloton, tweeted @cadelofficial, “All suffered here today. I rode in with a group that indicates my level…can’t remember a time I came in after the preso was done :o( ”
Putting this stage up against tomorrow’s rest day was probably a strategic mistake by the organizers. The riders obviously held back with the thought of focusing on Thursday’s climactic Pyrenees stage as the ultimate decider of this year’s race, the penultimate time trial notwithstanding.
Full report from VeloNews.