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TDF stage 16 / climb / Lance attacks and almost wins! Fedrigo prevails; Hushovd back in green

Tuesday,  07/20/10  09:50 PM

Wow, Lance *almost* pulled it off, and I think everyone was pulling for him to do it.  He almost won from a nine-man break, almost putting a great punctuation mark on his fabulous Tour de France career.  At least he gave it a shot!

Today we had the "queen stage", a huge climbing day with two Cat 1 climbs and two HC climbs... and [unfortunately] a rather long flat run after the final climb down to the finish.  It was tailor made for a breakaway, and indeed there was one, and among the twelve riders in it was #21, Lance Armstrong himself.  Also in it was Ryder Hesjedal, ensuring the peloton wasn't going to give the break too much leash.  After a while they were joined by Alexander Vinokourov, Carlos Sastre, Sandy Casar, and Anthony Charteau, the current KOM leader.  That was the status after the second Cat 1 Col d'Aspin.  Soon Casar attacked, and soon after so did Lance!  The peloton absorbed the break as other riders attacked off the front, even as Lance passed Casar on the lower slopes of the HC Col d'Tourmalet.  For a while he was all by himself, and we all wondered whether he'd be able to hang out there all day, with two HC passes ahead of him...

But it was not to be.  A nine-man break formed, with no GC contenders, and they made it all the way to the finish, but Pierrick Fedrigo out sprinted the rest of the break, leaving Lance to finish sixth.  I was a little sad but it was fun watching it all unfold however :)  Also great on this day: Thor Hushovd does what he always does, race his bike in the mountains as well as the flats, and as a result he took enough sprint points to reclaim the green jersey from Alessandro Petacchi.  We'll see if he can keep it, but it is cool that he can compete for the green jersey without actually being one of the top sprinters.

Tomorrow is a rest day - much needed, you can be sure - and the day after we'll have fireworks for sure as it will be Andy Schleck against Alberto Contador mano-a-mano on the hilltop finish to the Tourmalet, which they'll climb from the other side to the way they took it today.  Will be amazing!

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