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Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 16:45 UK

Tour de France - stage 16 as it happened

Stage 16 - Martigny to Bourg St Maurice, 159km

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 and put "Cycling" at the start of them. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Chris Bevan

1640: Another day in the Alps tomorrow, of course, and it really should be a cracker - it's now or never for the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Andy Schleck if they are to overhaul Alberto Contador. There are five climbs in the 169.5km route from Bourg St Maurice to Le Grand Bornand so plenty of opportunities to attack. Join me from around 1100 BST to see if there is going to be another twist in the story of this year's Tour - it should be fun finding out...

1634: A quick word on Carlos Sastre - the defending champion was dropped by the yellow jersey group when Andy Schleck attacked on the slopes of the Col du Petit St Bernard but, like Lance Armstrong before him, hauled himself back in touch and finished in the Contador group. Not such good news for Cadel Evans - the runner-up in 2007 and 2008 lost another two minutes or so on the big-hitters - he could not respond when Lance, and then Sastre, fought back.

Yellow jersey
1630: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 16:

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 67 hrs 33 mins 15 seconds
2. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 1 min 37 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins(GB/Garmin) + 1 min 46 secs
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) + 2 mins 17 secs
5. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 2 mins 26 secs

White jersey
Polka dot jersey
Green jersey
Yellow jersey
1628: TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 16:

Yellow jersey : Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana)
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo)
Polka dot jersey: Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Liquigas)
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank)

1624: No change at the top of the General Classification then - but another big day to come in the mountains tomorrow remember...

Bradley Wiggins
1620: Astarloza has managed a few top 10 stage finishes in the Tour in his time but that was his first win, and didn't he show it with his celebration...a huge roar of delight as he crossed the line. Elsewhere, not quite the fireworks we expected from the big-hitters but it was still another decent display by Bradley Wiggins and Lance Armstrong had to show what he is made of, fighting back after being dropped by Alberto Contador again.

Yellow jersey
1618: Nicolas Roche has to settle for fourth place in the end, as the yellow jersey of Alberto Contador comes over the line. Bradley Wiggins, Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloden are all safely home too.

1617: MIKEL ASTARLOZA WINS STAGE 16 OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE

1616: Mikel Astarloza is on his own now, with 1km to go. It's looking very good for him...

1614: This one is going to go down to the wire - Amael Moinard has just tried to escape the front four but is quickly hauled back in. Astarloza is the next man to try his luck and he has just opened up a few seconds as we go into the last 2km.

Yellow jersey
1612: We've still got two groups of four at the top of the race but, with 5km to go, it looks like we will soon have one group of eight. Just four seconds between those two groups, with the yellow jersey of Alberto Contador 58 seconds behind.

1610: Nicolas Roche and Sandy Casar are still working hard to close that gap - which is still coming down and is just seven seconds now, with 6.5km to go. Roche is after his first Grand Tour stage win - he's descending brilliantly here.

1607: Right then - 8.5km to go. Four riders are 10 seconds clear - Pellizotti, Van den Broek, Astarloza and Moinard. Then comes the Roche group, followed by the big-hitters, another minute and 20 seconds or so behind. By the way, Cadel Evans is another two minutes behind the group containing Contador/Armstrong/Wiggins/Andy Schleck.

Text in your views on 81111
1605: From Pete in Belfast, via text on 81111: "C'mon Nicho Roche - about time Ireland got some glory."


1602: Lots happening folks. Mikel Astarloza is trying to lose the other three riders at the front of the race, while Roche, Sandy Casar, Gomez Marchante, Stephane Goubert and Pierrick Fedrigo are 13 seconds back and trying to join that quartet. The group containing the big-hitters is now just a minute further behind. This stage is up for grabs...

1559: The second breakaway group, containing Irish champion Nicolas Roche, is just 12 seconds down on the front four. We've got 16km to go...and all it will be downhill.

Twitter
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Waiting for news on Voigt. Heavy, heavy crash."

First aid
1554: Another accident to report - Gomez Marchante of the Cervelo Test Team has also crashed but is back on his bike and seems to be OK. Wiggins is at the front of the Contador group, which is now a minute and 30 seconds behind the leaders with 18km to go.

First aid
1552: Ouch - Jens Voigt just tasted tarmac in a horrible way - he came off after hitting a bump in the road while descending at high speed and was lucky that the TV bike behind him didn't go straight over the top of him too.

1550: We've got four riders in front now - Franco Pellizotti, Jurgen van den Broeck, Mikel Astarloza and Amael Moinard, who have a lead of around one minute and 47 seconds on the yellow jersey group with 24km to go.

Get involved on 606
1549: mape_ventura on 606: "Come on Wiggo...get in that aero track position and descend away from them!!! - A bit of wishful thinking, but he's matched the best today."

1547: The Contador-Armstrong-Wiggins-Schleck group goes over the top of the Col du Petit St Bernard and the race to the finish is on...

Polka dot jersey
1545: Franco Pellizotti is the first to the summit to win his second climb of the day - he has a firm grip on the King of the Mountains category now. The breakaway bunch - or what is left of them - are about two minutes clear of the maillot jaune and have 31km to go, all downhill, to the finish.

1542: Back up the road and the breakaway riders are approaching the top of the Col du Petit St Bernard - the real action is happening with the Andy Schleck group, however, and Carlos Sastre is attempting to rejoin him and Alberto Contador.

1541: Armstrong is out of his saddle and making up ground to the back of the Contador group - he has just gone past Frank Schleck who is now going backwards, rapidly. A couple of names I haven't mentioned yet - Andreas Kloden is up with the big-hitters too - Carlos Sastre is not.

Lance Armstrong
1538: Lance Armstrong is trying to close the gap on the Contador group and has done just that - he's only 20 seconds behind them now.

Bradley Wiggins
1536: Phew! Armstrong and Sastre have just lost 50 seconds to Contador, Wiggins and Schleck - still time for them to respond though. At the front of the race, Pellizotti and Van den Broeck have a lead of two minutes and 30 seconds on the yellow jersey with 34km to go. Could Wiggins be second tonight?

1534: Andy Schleck turns up the pace again and he is now at the front of a group of six riders. Contador and Wiggins are still on his wheel though. Armstrong and Sastre are in the next group back.

Yellow jersey
1532: At last! An attack in the main bunch - Andy Schleck goes for it off the front, helped by brother Frank. Contador and Wiggins both up there, but this is going to be very interesting. Armstrong has been dropped.

Polka dot jersey
1529: Franco Pellizotti is still working hard and is clearly desperate for those King of the Mountains points after winning the first climb of the day - he is already 28 points clear of Egoi Martinez in the race for the polka dot jersey. The Italian and Jurgen van den Broeck have gone off the front of the escape group and are 15 seconds clear - Nicolas Roche is trying to close the gap though...

1525: The breakaway riders have been held up a bit by a press car, which shouldn't even be out on the road. Let's hope they get out of the way for the peloton...

1523: It is the Saxo Bank riders setting the pace at the front of the peloton now but they cannot lose the Astana boys who, as ever, are looking very strong.

1520: The breakaway has come down to 14 riders now - still 10km to go to the summit so perhaps I was a bit premature when I said they were approaching the top. Their lead on the peloton is down to three minutes now with 40km to go - the last 30km are all downhill mind.

Polka dot jersey
1517: The lead group has come back together a bit but Lefevre is attacking again as they approach the summit of Col du Petit St Bernard. The polka dot jersey of Franco Pellizotti is still up there and, inspired by your gags, so is Vladimir Karpets.

1514: Lefevre's attack has broken up the breakaway group and they have splintered up into a lot of smaller groups - difficult to see who has lost touch at the moment but I'll keep you posted. Back in the main bunch, Denis Menchov has fallen off the back of the peloton - he really has had a Tour to forget hasn't he?

1509: Movement at the front of the breakaway group and the peloton too. At the front of the race, Laurent Lefevre has opened up a small gap on the other 17 riders and, back in the main bunch, Sebastian Lang tried to escape but was hauled back by the Astana heavy mob.

Text in your views on 81111
1506: From Colin in London, via text on 81111: "I understand that Karpets has never fallen foul of a rug test."

No more Karpets jokes, I promise...

Text in your views on 81111
1504: From anon, via text on 81111: "(Re 1432) Very poor punning anyway when it would have been so easy to mention he'd been hoovered up by the chasing pack."

1500: This climb is a lot more technical than the first one of the day - which was just straight up (admittedly a very long way straight up). The riders have to tackle more twists and turns to get to the top of Petit St Bernard and the peloton is already breaking up. All the big-hitters are still safely at the front of the main bunch though - for now, at least.

1456: Worth mentioning some of the 18 riders in the new front group - Nicolas Roche, the Irish national champion, is among them...his father Stephen was responsible for my love of cycling, thanks to his display in the 1987 Tour (you never forget your first Tour, do you?). Jens Voigt, Mikel Astarloza and Sandy Casar also up there too. The gap is four minutes and 21 seconds with 51km to go, and they are now on the slopes of the Col du Petit St Bernard.

Text in your views on 81111
1449: From anon, via text on 81111: "Chris, may I be the first to congratulate you on your hitherto restrained approach to Karpets, and on your spectacular plummet from the wagon with a splendid soft furnishings-related pun? (See 1432) Magnificent work, Sir!"

Sorry folks, I couldn't resist. I was also working on an Allied Karpets gag but couldn't manage it - probably too late now...

1446: Pellizotti and Karpets have been caught by the chase group of 16 riders with 57km to go. They are about four minutes clear of the peloton containing all the big-hitters. Mark Cavendish is in a gruppetto about seven minutes further back.

1445: We now have live commentary from the Radio 5 Live team. Click on the link below and off you go. And for all you non UK-based cycleheads, you'll be glad to hear you can listen in on the action too. Live - Radio 5 Live commentary

Text in your views on 81111
1444: From Jonny R, via text on 81111:"Saxo need Andy Schleck to attack before the top of little Bernard and then Voigt and Cancellara to tow him to the finish. Not going to happen I'm afraid."

1442: If we are going to get any major moves today, they are going to come very soon - and on the slopes of the Col du Petit St Bernard. Not great news for Andy Schleck, however, he has had a puncture and is off the back off the peloton.

Yellow jersey
1438: Just seen some shots of Contador enjoying his lunch and looking very relaxed - he's surrounded by Garmin riders, Wiggo included, at the front of the peloton.

Text in your views on 81111
1436: From John, via text on 81111: (Re 1345) "In all the excitement over Wiggins' sterling job in the mountains we seem to have forgotten about Contador's improvement in the time trials. For a sense of perspective check the bookies."

1432: With 65km to go, the chase group of 16 riders are closing the gap on the front two, which is down to one minute and 11 seconds. The peloton is another three-and-a-half minutes back. Not quite curtains for Karpets yet, but signs are that him and Pellizotti are finally being reeled in.

1427: Astana have been bossing things at the front of the peloton today, with Garmin (Wiggo) and Saxo Bank (Andy and Frank Schleck) both yet to make their move, if indeed they are planning to make one today.

Text in your views on 81111
1424: From TC, via text on 81111: (Re 1354) "Surely on the Petit St Bernard they'll be puppies!?"

1422: The riders are approach the feed zone at the foot of the Col de Petit St Bernard. A reminder that all the big-hitters - Contador, Armstrong, Wiggins and Andy Schleck - are safely in the peloton.

Text in your views on 81111
1420: From Graeme in Glasgow, via text on 81111: (Re 1345) "I think everyone is getting a bit carried away with all the talk of Wiggins getting podium. There are still a lot of tough climbs to come and he's never experienced the pressure of constant attacks on these mountains."

Yellow jersey
1411: Hmmm, that gap from the peloton to the front is still growing slightly - up to four minutes and 47 seconds with 80km left. A reminder that Karpets is five minutes and 56 seconds behind Alberto Contador in the General Classification, so we might have a new man in the virtual yellow jersey soon.

Text in your views on 81111
1405: From Jamie in Watford, via text on 81111: "I visited the St Bernard dog museum last year which is at the summit of the Grand St Bernard - I struggled to get up there in my car! These guys are superhuman or insane - I've not decided yet.
Can I also mention this is the road they filmed the 'Italian Job' on... Hang on lads I've got an idea!"

Mark Cavendish
1400: I hope Mark Cavendish is helping out in the Gruppetto today...if not, he is going to have to - his group of 15 riders are already more than 11 minutes behind Pellizotti and Karpets and seven minutes behind the peloton. Work to do for the Manx Missile.

Get involved on 606
1358: Im_partial on 606: "I've just seen a few shots of Fabian Cancellara driving downwards like a bird of prey, weaving his way back into the group and also taking time out for a snack whilst pedalling like a machine. Incredible."

Yep, Cancellara is great to watch when he's descending. After climbing for 40km today, this downhill stretch lasts 35km so he will be making the most of it.

1354: The front two have opened up the gap a tiny bit more on this long descent - they now have a lead of more than three minutes on the peloton. The chase group are still around one-and-a-half minutes down though. Once the riders get to the bottom of this valley, they immediately start climbing again - right up to the top of the Col du Petit St Bernard...more dogs up there, I expect.

Get involved on 606
1352: BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606: "Not sure why Andy Schleck is sitting right at the back of the bunch. Last place you want to be on the descent surely?

I expect Saxo Bank are going to ride tempo on the second climb, again. Astana have got the numbers to match them so they're going to have to show more imagination."

Text in your views on 81111
1345: From Ian in Woodford, via text on 81111: "Last Thursday everyone hogged the blog with Cav green jersey talk and whether or not he is arrogant. I said at the time everyone seemed to be missing the point that Wiggins had got back his 15 seconds. Dependant on Thursday's time trial he could soon be in yellow. Must be the training on London's steep hills.
Is he the greatest all-round cyclist Britain has ever produced, Beryl Burton and Nicole Cooke excepted? There's also no debate - he's a lovely bloke and a Londoner."

Wiggo in yellow this year, could it really happen? I'm not so sure myself...although it would be very nice.

1342: The chase group and the peloton are all descending now too. With 105km to go, Pellizotti and Karpets are about a minute-and-a-half clear of the 18 riders behind them, with the main bunch another minute back.

Polka dot jersey
1339: Lots of St Bernard dogs out on the slopes to welcome the riders to the top of Col du Grand St Bernard - let's hope none of them need rescuing today, although that barrel of whisky could come in handy for a few I'm sure. Pellizotti was first to the top, cementing his lead in the King of the Mountains category - he and Karpets are heading downhill, very fast, now.

Polka dot jersey
1333: Franco Pellizotti and Vladimir Karpets are just a few hundred yards from the top of the Col du Grand St Bernard now. They've been climbing for the last 40km on the road and will reach a height of 2,473m when they reach the summit. It's the highest point of this year's Tour and is actually in Italy. A lot easier to write about it than it is to ride up it...

1331: Phew. A few riders have been dropped off the back of the peloton now, as they continue this long climb to the summit of Col du Grand St Bernard. Mark Cavendish is among those in the Gruppetto - maybe he will be doing his share of the work in there today after being criticised last week. Or maybe not...

1327: A few of you are texting in about 'Lanterne Rouge' Kenny van Hummel, who is last in the overall standings in 162nd place, three hours, two minutes and 10 seconds behind Contador. Van Hummel is also almost 30 minutes behind the rider in 161st place (Yauheni Hutarovich) and seems determined to keep the honour all the way to Paris on Sunday. No news yet of how the Dutchman is getting on today but, seeing how much he struggled in the Pyrenees in the first week, he is unlikely to be making up any of that time.

Text in your views on 81111
1317: From Chris, still at work, via text on 81111: "Hope I'm not speaking to soon, but it's good to go into the last week with no drama of illegal substances. All of the talk is of the contenders, not the cheaters, in the Tour."

1315: News has just reached me that a vehicle belonging to Astana's team has been stopped and searched by customs officials at the Swiss-France border during today's stage. Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens says that a search was conducted for about three hours inside an Astana truck - not the team bus itself - but that nothing of concern was found.

1308: We've covered around 35km of the 159km in today's stage. About a minute and 45 seconds behind the front two is a group of 16 containing Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt and Egoi Martinez. Then, another 30 seconds back, comes another 11 riders including Nicolas 'son of Stephen' Roche and Michael Rogers. The peloton, containing Contador, Armstrong and Wiggins, are another 30 seconds behind.

Yellow jersey
1301: Katusha's Vladimir Karpets is five minutes and 56 seconds behind maillot jaune Alberto Contador in the overall standings, and lies 20th overall. The Russian rider and Pellizotti are still just over three minutes clear of Contador on the road today, but I don't expect Astana to let that gap get much bigger.

Polka dot jersey
1254: Franco Pellizotti has even got polka dot handle-bar tape - do you think he fancies himself as King of the Mountains? He and Karpets are still clear as they continue their long ascent up Col du Grand St Bernard - and are still around 30 seconds clear of the first chase group. The peloton are around three minutes back, but there are riders all over the slopes at the moment - this climb is a monster.

1249: Worth tuning into BBC Radio 5 Live at around 1330 BST if you get a chance folks. Simon Brotherton and Graham Jones will be discussing this year's Tour, and speaking to Wiggo's mate Shane Sutton and British cyclist Ed Clancy too.

Yellow jersey
Mark Cavendish
1244: Egoi Martinez has been dropped by the front three (now a front two) and is falling back as Franco Pellizotti and Vladimir Karpets continue what must seem like a never-ending ascent up the mountain. News of the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish too...he had been dropped by the main peloton but is now back with that group (which also contains Alberto Contador). It's going to be a long day in the saddle for Cav, however...he must climb for 40km just to get to the first summit today.

1242: The three riders at the front have got a lead of about 30 seconds on the next group of 15, and the main peloton are another two minutes back - with a few riders scattered between them.

Get involved on 606
1239: BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606: "Brad is in a great position in that he can follow attacks now rather than start them. As Felice Gimondi and others have said "Lick your opponent's plate clean before starting on your own"

Polka dot jersey
1233: Well, we thought it would be lively, didn't we! Franco Pellizotti went off the front of the breakaway on his own but has been caught by his rival for the polka dot jersey Egoi Martinez and Vladimir Karpets. Those three are clear on their own now, and the rest of the escapees are spreading out a bit on the road behind them.

Text in your views on 81111
1230: From anon, via text on 81111: "With Bradley Wiggins' time trial skills, how much time could he reasonably look at making on the leading two tomorrow? With him having proved he's no slouch in the mountains he's got to put some pressure on the two above him!"

The time trial is on Thursday anon...but it's a good question. I think Contador's comments about Wiggins (see 1152) show how much he respects the Garmin rider - he will want to put more time into him in the mountains today and tomorrow, to limit the damage that Wiggo can do in the time trial. Let's see what Wiggo can do in response - should be interesting...

1225: That gap keeps rising, as we go up (and up, and up) the Col du Grand St Bernard. The breakaway group of 21 riders are now two minutes clear. A couple of Euskaltel riders have gone off the front of the peloton in an attempt to join them.

1220: We will have live commentary of the climax of this stage from the Radio 5 Live team from 1445 BST today. If you're outside the UK, worry not, as you can listen in too. I'll give you a reminder beforehand, as you will need to give this page a manual refresh to see the link.

1215: Fabian Cancellara was one of the riders to make up the gap and join the breakaway bunch, which now contains 21 riders. Pellizotti's main rival for the polka dot jersey, Egoi Martinez, is up there too. Wiggo's Garmin team-mates are up near the front of the peloton but they seem happy to let this escape get away for now - the lead is up to one minute and 20 seconds, with 10km of the 159km done.

Get involved on 606
1212: Im_partial on 606: "The peloton will again be split up all over the mountains today, and I am sure we'll see a series of abandonments. I'm tipping Schleck II (Andy) to give it another try today (with the able assistance of his elder brother Frank), if only to give him a chance to get further up the General Classification. It will be interesting to see how he has recovered from Sunday."

Polka dot jersey
1208: A group of about 20 riders have opened up a gap on the peloton, with more riders off the front of the main bunch trying to join them. Franco Pellizotti, who leads the King of the Mountains category, is up there at the front and there are plenty of Cervelo Test Team riders up there too.

1205: And, as expected, there have been a few early attacks. Astana, also as expected, are controlling the peloton and leading the chase.

1201: Right then. The riders are just rolling out of the neutral zone....lots of chat from you lot on 606 about early attacks today up the Col du Grand St Bernard. Today should be very lively, right from the start.

Twitter
Lance Armstrong on Twitter: "Interesting note - top 20 in this TdF separated by only 6 mins. Extremely rare with just 6 days to go. Tactically very risky 4 us."

White jersey
Polka dot jersey
Green jersey
Yellow jersey
1159: TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 14:

Yellow jersey : Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana)
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo)
Polka dot jersey: Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Liquigas)
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank)

Yellow jersey
1158: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 15:

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 63 hrs 17 mins 56 seconds
2. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 1 min 37 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins(GB/Garmin) + 1 min 46 secs
4. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) + 2 mins 17 secs
5. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 2 mins 26 secs

Text in your views on 81111
1156: enjoy_the_ride_again on 606: "Those who have not warmed up properly be warned; the road goes straight up."

Twitter
Bradley Wiggins on Twitter: "Just spoke to good mate Shane Sutton, a man you'd want in the trenches with you. Motivated for today, I think so!"

As well as being a 'good mate' of Wiggo, Shane Sutton is an Australian who is part of the crack coaching team at British Cycling. In fact, Wiggins has described him in the past as the 'heart and soul' of British cycling. Sutton is going to play a big part in the British team's future assault on the Tour de France too.

1152: Will we see a repeat of Contador's extraordinary surge on Sunday? Well, quite possibly, yes. The 2007 Tour winner has promised to mount another attack to try to gain more time on Wiggins, whom he fears could pose a threat in Thursday's time trial. All in all, it should be an exciting day...

Twitter
Lance Armstrong on Twitter: "Just done team meeting. 2 big climbs today, will be aggressive from start, downhill finish. Team looks good."

1149: We are still in the Alps today, and another stern test awaits the 162 remaining riders as they travel the 159km from Martigny to Bourg St Maurice - starting in the next 10 minutes or so.

They go straight into the first climb of the day, the Col du Grand St Bernard, which is the 'roof' (highest point) of this year's Tour, at 2,473m. After a long descent into Italy, the second climb sees the riders go up the Col du Petit St Bernard (2,188m) before another downhill section to the finish.

Bradley Wiggins
Lance Armstrong
Yellow jersey
1147: Spain's Alberto Contador has taken the race by the scruff of the neck after his attack on the climb up to Verbier on Sunday and he is now one minute and 37 seconds ahead of his Astana team-mate, seven-time champion Lance Armstrong. Britain's Bradley Wiggins continued his magnificent Tourwith another superb performance in the mountains and he lies third, another nine seconds further back.

1145 BST: Blimey, good job Le Tour had a rest day yesterday eh? A chance for us all to get our breath back, let alone the riders, after the drama of stage 15.




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