Rasmussen Wins; Landis Falters; Pereiro Takes Yellow Jersey
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) has won Stage 16 of the Tour de France.
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) has won Stage 16 of the Tour de France. The Dane rode away from two breakaway companions to win the mountainous, 182-km ride from Bourg d?Oisans to La Tossuire in 5:36:04. Carlos Sastre (CSC) finished second at 1:41, and Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d?Epargne) took third at 1:54. Pereiro took the yellow jersey from Floyd Landis (Phonak), who went into free fall on the day?s final climb, losing 10 minutes to plummet from first to 11 th overall. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The day?s big escape began at about 10 km, when Rasmussen, Tadej Valjavec (Lampre), and Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) sallied off of the front. At 35 km, the trio led 14 chasers by 2:35 and the peloton by 3.45. At the top of the Galibier (45.5 km), the lead had grown to 3:00 over the chasers and 4:35 over the bunch.
On the hors categorie Col de la Croix de Fer, Rasmussen and Valjavec dropped Casar. Then, the Dane dropped the Frenchman. Ten km from the summit, Rasmussen led Valjavec by 0:35, Casar by 1:45, the remnants of the chase group by 6:00, and the bunch by 7:10.
With 70 km left, CSC began to chase. The Danish squad?s pressure reduced the maillot jaune group to Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel); Sastre, Frank Schleck, and Christian Vandevelde (all from CSC); Andreas Kloden, Giuseppe Guerini, Matthias Kessler, Eddy Mazzoleni, and Michael Rogers (all from T-Mobile); Christophe Moreau, Sylvain Calzati, Cyril Dessel, and Stephane Goubert (Ag2r); Levi Leipheimer and Marcus Fothen (both from Gerolsteiner); Denis Menchov and Michael Boogerd (both from Rabobank); Cadel Evans and Chris Horner (both from Davitamon); Damiano Cunego (Lampre); David Arroyo, Vladimir Karpets, Pereiro, and Xabier Zandio (all from Caisse d?Epargne); Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole); Iker Camano and Haimar Zubeldia (both from Euskaltel); and Landis and Axel Merckx (both from Phonak).
At the summit of the Col de la Croix de Fer, Rasmussen led Valjavec by 5:00. Behind, Leipheimer attacked from the maillot jaune group. At the summit of the Category 2 Col du Mollard, Rasmussen led Valjavec and Leipheimer by 4:55, Casar by 6:40, and the T-Mobile-paced maillot jaune group by 7:20.
With 15 km left, Rasmussen had 4:00 on Leipheimer. Moreau, Calzati, and Goubert slid out of the back. On the lower slopes of the finishing climb, T-Mobile began to up the tempo. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) attacked. He got a gap, and T-Mobile closed it. Sastre noticed that Landis had not chased Menchov?s move and put in one of his own. The resulting acceleration dropped Landis.
With six km left, Rasmussen led Leipheimer and Sastre by 3:30. Mazzoleni paced Kloden, who had Menchov, Evans, Caucchioli, and a resurgent Moreau with him. One km later, Kloden attacked and caught and dropped Leipheimer. With four km remaining, Rasmussen?s lead over Sastre was down to 3:00.
After 173 km in the lead, Rasmussen crossed the finish line with the stage win. Evans and Kloden crossed the finish line with Pereiro, who became the maillot jaune . Merckx towed team captain Landis across the finish