Contador Wins Stage 14 of Tour
Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) has won Stage 14 of the Tour de France. The leader in the best young rider competition took a two-up sprint from Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) to win the mountainous, 197-km ride from Mazamet to Plateau de Beille in 5:25:48. Juan Soler (Barloworld) finished third at 0:37. Rasmussen has padded his overall lead.
The stage began with an ascent of the Category 2 Cote de St-Sarraille. The pace up the climb was fast because King of the Mountains points were at issue. On the descent, Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne), Ruben Perez and Amets Txurruka (both from Euskaltel), Alexander Kuschynski (Liquigas), Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), and Antonio Colom (Astana) rolled off of the front. The escapees' lead grew to 11:30 over the Euskaltel-led peloton.
The sextet's advantage was down to 7:30 at the base of the hors
Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) was dropped but got back on and set a furious pace up the finishing climb. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was dropped immediately, and Andreas Kloden (Astana) slid out of the back next. When Popovych dropped off of the front, the yellow jersey group was down to Rasmussen, Cadel Evans (Predictor), Carlos Sastre (CSC), Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador (both from Discovery Channel), and Soler.
With four km left, the pair caught and dropped Colom. With
In the overall, Rasmussen leads Contador by 2:23 and Evans by 3:04. Stage 15 will be the hardest stage of the Tour, and it will shake up the standings more than today's stage did. The 196-km ride from Foix to Loudonvielle will take the riders over the Category 2 Col de Port and Col de Portet d'Aspet and the Category 1 Col de Monte, the hors categorie Port de Bales, and the Category 1 Col de Peyresourde. From the summit of the Peyresourde, the riders will descend to the finish. Look for battles on the Port de Bales and on the Peyresourde. Can anyone find a chink in Rasmussen's armor? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!