Fedrigo Wins Stage 16 of Tour de France 2010, Lance Armstrong Comes Up Short in Final Sprint
Lance Armstrong (Team RadioShack): "It's been a while since I've sprinted." Cervelo TestTeam's Thor Hushovd attacks solo on the "Thormalet" in beautiful and admirable fashion and later reclaims the green sprinter's points jersey.
Lance Armstrong lost a sprint finish and watched his chances of a glorious stage win in his final Tour de France slip away earlier today.
He came in sixth in a sprint that was won by Pierrick Fedrigo of France, ahead of his compatriot Sandy Casar and Ruben Plaza of Spain.
"It was harder than I expected. It's been a while since I sprinted," Armstrong said. "Just not quick enough."
Armstrong had joined the first break of the day and remained ahead of the peloton for the entire length of the 16th stage - the Queen stage of the 2010 Tour de France - that included four major climbs including that of the famed Col du Tourmalet.
The leaders finished the grueling 199.5 kilometers (124 miles) from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau in 5 hours, 31 minutes, 43 seconds, but the stragglers were some 32 minutes behind.
It was the third successive French victory in this year's race and the sixth in total.
"It was my day. Everything smiled on me," said Fedrigo, who also won a stage in 2009 and 2006 and has appeared regularly in the breakaways of this year's race. "This shows that it isn't only the great leaders who can win on the Tour de France, it's also the general riders."
There was no change in the overall standings in the race. Yellow jersey holder Alberto Contador of Spain crossed the line in the peloton along with his closest challenger, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, after Contador's strong Astana team packed the front of the peloton on the climb up the Col d'Aubisque and prevented Schleck from attacking.
Schleck had been furious with Contador after Monday's stage because he felt the Spaniard should have waited when Schleck suffered a mechanical problem during the main climb of the day. Contador surged ahead and took the yellow jersey at the end of the stage.
Contador later apologized, and on Tuesday the two came together on the stage of the French broadcaster and shook hands.
"We are fine now," Schleck said. "The Tour de France isn't going to be won by eight seconds, and there's going to be a big race between him and me the day after tomorrow."
Wednesday is a rest day in the Tour, but on Thursday the racers will turn around and ride the Pyrenees in the other direction, ending on the top of the Col du Tourmalet.
Cervelo TestTeam's Norwegian God of Thunder Thor Hushovd achieved a coup on his contenders for the top sprinter crown. While the green jersey of Alessandro Petacchi and three-time stage winner Mark Cavendish trailed along at the back on a stage that was a big struggle for them, Hushovd went on the attack at the front of the peloton by attacking solo on the "Thormalet" in beautiful and admirable fashion.
Hushovd was later reeled back in and then even received great support from 2008 Tour de France winner and teammate Carlos Sastre, who - after having attacked himself - sacrificed his own chances in today's stage by helping Hushovd remain with the favorites until the peloton reached the top of the legendary climb. Hushovd finished today's stage in 10th place by winning the bunch sprint, thereby picking up enough points to reclaim the sprinter's points jersey.
"It was an important day. I knew it was a good chance to try to get some more points. The team did a great job helping me get over the climbs. With the break up the road, we knew there were some points waiting at the finish line. It's important to take many whenever you have the opportunity," Hushovd told Roadcycling.com after arriving in Pau.
Hushovd added "Petacchi is the most dangerous rival. I am feeling better as this Tour goes along. I think I have a good chance to win another stage. I would love to win on the Champs-Elysées. The green jersey always comes down to who is the strongest rider over three weeks."
Carlos Sastre said "I was looking again for the breakaway, like always. We went to the maximum, but it didn't work out. We went over two climbs, but the gap was hovering around 25-30 seconds, and no one really took enough digs to make a real difference. Finally, I decided to stop because I realized it would be difficult to stay away."
Team BMC Racing's World Champion Cadel Evans who is still in the race in spite of strugling with various injuries said after the stage "I haven't got the legs, but I would have like to have done something today," Evans said. "When it's uphill like this - and after the days we've had and the racing we've had in the last few stages - it's put a lot of people in a lot of difficulty. It's one thing to have a sore arm. But then when you get a sore back and a sore this, or a sore that, and you can only pull on one side - that's all part of it."
Cervelo TestTeam's speed machine Ignatas Konovalovas impressively managed to escape solo from the race favorites and join Armstrong, Horner, Moreau and the other riders in today's breakaway.
"It was a really tough ride today. I got to that group, we tried to jump four riders across, but (Carlos) Barredo set too hard of a tempo for me, so I decided to ride at my own pace. I was hoping to catch them, then I felt that I was not so good on the top of the last climb. After the first attack of Lance (Armstrong), I was already four minutes behind and could not catch them. Then I decided to wait for the bunch, and help Thor to try to get points," Konovalovas explained to Roadcycling.com.
Armstrong acknowledged that his career was very close to being at an end now.
"Lance Armstrong is over in about four days," he said in Pau after the finish.
Wednesday is a Tour de France rest day.
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