Gerrans Wins Stage 15 of Tour; Frank Schleck Takes Maillot Jaune
Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole) has won Stage 15 of the 2008 Tour de France.
Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole) has won Stage 15 of the 2008 Tour de France. The Australian took a three-up sprint at the end of a day-long break to win the mountainous, 183-km ride from Embrun, France to Prato Nevoso, Italy in 4:50:44. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) and Danny Pate (Garmin) finished second and third, respectively, at 0:03 and 0:10. Schleck surged away from Cadel Evans (Silence) in the final km and took the maillot jaune from him.
At 13 km, Martinez, Pate, and Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2r) went off of the front. Eventually, Gerrans bridged up to the trio. The quartet's advantage ballooned to more than 12 minutes at the base of the day's first climb, the hors categorie Col Agnel.
On the descent of the Agnel, 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) crashed on a switchback and abandoned with shoulder injuries. With 50 km remaining, another crash took down Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), the leader of the best young rider competition, King of the Mountains Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin), and David Millar (Garmin). The slowdowns after the two crashes enabled the break to extend their lead to more than 17 minutes.
CSC paced the field onto the Category 3 Colle del Morte. A number of riders were shelled, including several of Evans' teammates. At the base of the Category 1 finishing climb, the break led the bunch by 12:00, and one of its members would obviously win.
With eight km left, Martinez accelerated several times and dropped Arrieta. Pate and Gerrans got back on. Behind, CSC paced the field up the climb. Andy Schleck and Carlos Sastre (both from CSC) attacked, and the maillot jaune group was reduced to nine riders--the Schleck brothers, Evans, Vande Velde, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), and Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
Menchov attacked but crashed on a hairpin turn. The maillot jaune group waited for him. When the Russian returned, Andy Schleck attacked. With two km left, Menchov, Kohl, Sastre, and Valverde dropped Evans, while Frank Schleck and Vande Velde dropped the soon-to-be erstwhile maillot jaune with one km left. Ahead, Gerrans easily bested Martinez and Pate for the win.
In the overall, Schleck leads Kohl by 0:07 and Evans by 0:08. Tomorrow will be the 2008 Tour's second rest day. Riders will recuperate, and GC contenders will formulate strategy for the two Alpine stages to come. Stage 16 will follow on Tuesday. The 157-km ride from Cuneo, Italy to Jausiers, France will take the riders over the hors categorie Col de la Lombarde and the hors categorie Col de la Bonette-Restefond. After breasting the Bonette-Restefond, the riders will descend to the finish, so any gaps should be small. An early break could win the stage. Who might be in it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!