Well then. That really was a stage to remember, if not as a battle for yellow but between the riders fighting it out for podium places. This Tour's not over yet, of course - there could well be more major movement at the top of the General Classification after tomorrow's time trial in Annecy. Let's hope Wiggo has got some energy left for that one - join me tomorrow from about 1000 BST to find out what this Tour has in store for us next.
1644: From Ian in Winchester, via text on 81111:
"I don't think finishing seventh behind the best cyclists in the world really indicates a weakness. Still top 10 for Wiggo in Paris."
1640: TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 17:
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)
Let's not write Wiggo off just yet either...he's done superbly to be where he is at this stage anyhow and, if he hasn't taken too much out of himself today, can potentially make up time on some of the riders above him in tomorrow's time trial.
1631: From anon, via text on 81111:
"I'm still amazed at the number of people saying Contador is worried that he'll lose time in tomorrow's time trial. He's Spanish time trial champion. He was second in the prologue - not Wiggins, not Armstrong, not Evans. Far from losing time, Contador will extend his lead tomorrow."
What a day that was then folks! It started with Thor Hushovd's solo attack and ends with another formidable display by Alberto Contador. He still has this race by the scruff of its neck but had to hold off a double attack by the Schleck brothers to do so. Lance showed he's still got power in those legs, while Bradley Wiggins finally showed a sign of weakness in the mountains (relatively speaking) and drops out of the top five overall.
1625: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 17:
1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 72 hrs 27 mins 09 seconds
2. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 2 mins 26 secs
3. Frank Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 3 mins 25 secs
4. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 3 min 55 secs
5. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) + 4 mins 44secs
6. Bradley Wiggins(GB/Garmin) + 4 min 53 secs
Here he comes now! Wiggo digs deep and comes home three minutes and nine seconds after Contador and Schleck x2 - he's slipped down the GC, but I'm not sure how many places he's lost yet - I'll stop typing and do some maths...
Armstrong and Nibali cross the line two minutes and 17 seconds after Contador and Schleck x2. Kloden dropped off the back in the last few hundred metres and will lose a few more seconds. But where is Bradley Wiggins?
Lance is still driving on to the line. Still no word on Wiggo. Will bring news when I get some...
Frank Schleck takes the stage - just as Lance and Nibali catch Kloden. The Texan is attacking again too.
Here they come - Contador not contesting this by the looks of things...
The front three are two minutes and five seconds ahead of Kloden - Lance and Nibali have almost caught him now. Just 1km
to go, will Contador really give the stage to one of the Schlecks?
Just 3km to go. How much time will be made/lost by the big-hitters today? We're about to find out. Fingers crossed for Wiggo...
to go for Contador and Schleck x2, who are one minute and 50 seconds ahead of Andreas Kloden. Nibali and Lance are another 25 seconds further back. Not sure how far Wiggins is behind those two but it doesn't look good...
Nibali has caught Lance on this descent - they are flying down this mountain. The Italian was sixth overall before the start of the day, bad news for Wiggo, who is on his own further back, and could slip out of the top six overall tonight.
1610: BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606:
"Today wasn't about breaking the Schlecks for Astana, it looks like it was about getting Bradley out of top 3 because he is the threat. Come Bradley, dig in, dig deep and keep the gap down to as little as possible."
to go now for the leaders (Contador and Schleck x2), who are one minute ahead of Kloden and two minutes ahead of Armstrong. Wiggins coming downhill now but he has lost a lot of time today and will slip outside the top five overall by the end of the day.
Armstrong still accelerating up the hill and he is now just 50 seconds behind Kloden. Wiggins still not at the summit I'm afraid.
Armstrong attacks Wiggins! He has let the Brit do all the work up this hill and now goes for his throat - he's left him behind too, it was an amazing surge by the seven-time champion.
Contador and the Schleck brothers are a minute ahead of Kloden, who is 90 seconds ahead of Wiggins, Armstrong and Nibali.
The front three, who are followed by Kloden and then Wiggo and Lance, are still going up the Col de la Colombiere, just less than 1km to go to the summit though, the rest of the 15km of this stage are all downhill.
Kloden has cracked, he's 22 seconds or so behind the front three - and the Schleck brothers have got the upper hand now. Both of them look like making major gains in the overall standings. Wiggo and Lance are two minutes and 13 seconds behind them and the yellow jersey.
Alberto Contador attacks! He's off on his own - but Andy Schleck is hauling him back in, with his brother Frank on his wheel. Andreas Kloden couldn't keep the pace though - just three at the front.
We've got 17km to go now and the gap from the front four (Contador/Kloden/Schleck brothers) to Wiggo/Lance/Nibali is still one minute and 40 seconds.
Uh oh...problems for Wiggo - the gap to the front four is growing and he is now one minute and 40 seconds behind. Vande Velde has just dropped off the pace too, so it is down to the Brit to limit the damage on his own, unless Nibali helps him out, because Lance certainly is not going to pull his finger out.
1550: From Dan the Man, via text on 81111:
"Clearly Alberto was worried about the impending time trial with Wiggo and Lance so close. Brilliant riding from the Spaniard!"
Contador is looking very comfortable and you can't see him losing yellow today, especially with his Astana team-mate Andreas Kloden up top with him but the rest of the top order - eg Lance and Wiggo - are looking extremely vulnerable at the moment...the Schleck brothers (both Saxo Bank) are still pushing hard.
Nibali back with Lance and Wiggo, with Vande Velde still putting in one heck of a shift to try to bring them back to the front bunch. Just 21km
to go now, and the gap is still one minute and 20 seconds
. In case I didn't make it clear with all the fireworks in the last 30 minutes, all the original escapees - including Thor Hushovd - have been caught now and left behind. These eight riders are now leading on the road, and battling for a lot more than just the stage win.
Vincenzo Nibali has gone past the Armstrong/Vande Velde/Wiggins group but is not making up any ground on the front four.
The Contador/Kloden/Schleck brothers group have got a lead of one minute and 20 seconds on Wiggins and Armstrong, who would both tumble down the General Classification if that stays the same. We've got 25km, and one last climb - the category one Col de la Columbiere - to go. Bad news for Carlos Sastre, who attacked unsuccessfully earlier, he was dropped by this lot a long time ago and is going to lose even more time because he's had a puncture. Harsh on the defending champion.
1538: From Gavin S, via text on 81111:
"Fingers crossed that Bradley has something in reserve for the final climb of the day."
Right then, we're on the descent now - can Wiggo make up some time here? His Garmin team-mate Christian Vande Velde has done some amazing work to haul him up that hill, now he shouts at him to encourage him on his way down.
The front four riders of Contador, Kloden and the Schleck brothers (Frank has caught up with Andy) are looking very strong at the front of the race. Kloden is 31 seconds behind Wiggins in the GC, Andy Schleck is 40 seconds behind the Brit - both would leapfrog him if they can keep this gap of around 50 seconds. We've got 28km to go - c'mon Wiggo!
Lance Armstrong (second overall) attacks Bradley Wiggins (third overall). The Brit is still with the Texan at the moment though - 1km to go to the summit.
In all that excitement, Belgium's Jurgen Van den Broeck was still leading the way on the road but he has now been overhauled by the yellow jersey group, who are 55 seconds ahead of Wiggins and Armstrong. We've still got 30km to go - the descent of the Col de Romme and the ascent of the Col de la Colombiere before a short downhill section to the finish.
That gap is going up - Andy Schleck/Contador and Kloden are now 32 seconds ahead, with Armstrong/Wiggins/Frank Schleck/Rigoberto Uran trying to bridge the gap. Wiggins has got to be careful here because Kloden is 31 seconds behind him in the General Classification and is squeezing him out of the podium places.
Christian Vande Velde is trying to get Wiggins back in touch with the A.Schleck/Contador/Kloden group but he has got a lot of work to do. The British rider is 22 seconds
behind that trio, in a group with Lance Armstrong. We have got around 31km
Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Andreas Kloden are in a group of three together now, about 23 seconds ahead of Armstrong and Wiggins.
Andy Schleck attacks again - Contador and Wiggins go with him. We've got 33km to go and this group of big-hitters are about to overhaul Thor Hushovd at the front.
Wow - there are battles going on all over the road - Contador and Andy Schleck are together now and, slightly further back, Armstrong is trying to get away too but Wiggins, brilliantly, gets up with the seven-time champion.
Frank Schleck is next to attack, but Armstrong goes with him and keeps Contador on his back wheel, looking very comfortable too. Sastre seems to have given up the ghost - he's been dropped by the Contador group.
Bradley Wiggins still keeping in touch with Contador/Armstrong and Andy Schleck as things stand. Those riders are up with the chase group that escaped earlier, and have also caught Sastre too.
Sastre is clawed back by the chasing pack but BANG he goes again - Astana minder Andreas Kloden is staying on his wheel, however, and the Spaniard is going to have to dig even deeper to escape the riders behind him.
1512: From Nudds, via text on 81111:
(Re 1448) "Jean-Pierre Genet was the lanterne rouge in '67. He won a stage and wore the yellow jersey for one day the following year! Bit of an improvement...
Sastre, the defending champion, has not opened up a significant gap on the group containing Contador/Armstrong/Wiggins and Andy Schleck - he is still pushing hard, however, and will keep firing up to the summit. We've got 36km to go to the finish - Hushovd is still up front on his own, but not for long I'd wager - his lead just a minute now and dropping fast.
Carlos Sastre attacks at the bottom of the Col de Romme. Contador sitting pretty and not responding yet...
Thankfully, so far this year's Tour has been drug/doping free - or maybe people just haven't been found out yet? Cycling clearly still has its problems, however, as Giro d'Italia runner-up Danilo Di Luca
has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for the banned blood booster CERA. Di Luca, 33, won two stages in this year's Giro and faces a two-year suspension from the sport should his B sample return positive. In case you were wondering, he is not in the Tour.
MixingBowl on 606:
"(Re 1448) Rob Harmeling got the lantern rouge in '91 and then went on to win a stage in '92. He was also disqualified in the '94 Le Tour for hanging on to his team's car, probably trying to avoid getting the lantern rouge again."
Yep, Hushovd takes those six points and is now 30 points ahead of Cav in the green jersey standings. Back down the road, Astana continue to head up the peloton but Bradley Wiggins and Andy Schleck are up top too, handily placed if anything develops.
The peloton continue to close the gap on Hushovd, and the chase group that lies between him and them on the road. The yellow jersey group are now two minutes and 43 seconds
behind the Norwegian, with 44km
to go to the finish. It looks like he will get those six points in the intermediate sprint though - who is going to tell Cav?
1448: From Tom in London, via text on 81111:
(Re 1436) "Has a former lantern rouge ever gone on to achieve big things in Le Tour in a later year?"
Anyone got any ideas on this one?
Hmmm. The Astana heavy mob are running the show at the front of the peloton and have upped the pace significantly. Could we see a major movement by Contador in the next few kilometres? Let's hope for fireworks, one way or another...
Thor is first to the top of Cote d'Araches, followed by our spotty friend Franco Pellizotti, who collects more King of the Mountains points. Hushovd is one minute and 20 seconds ahead of the chase group of 20 riders, and three minutes and 18 seconds ahead of the peloton. The Norwegian has got to hang on in front for another 15km and the next intermediate sprint at Cluses - six more points will make it a very successful day for him, regardless of whether he is caught before the end of the stage.
Wow! Big movement at the, er, bottom
of the General Classification - perennial 'Lanterne Rouge' Kenny van Hummel crashed on the last descent and the Dutchman has been forced to abandon. Belarus rider Yauheni Hutarovich
, of the Francois Des Jeux team, now holds the honour of last place overall - he is just two hours, 50 minutes and 14 seconds behind Alberto Contador - but my thoughts are with Kenny, who is a real trooper.
Saxo Bank, Astana and Garmin - including Bradley Wiggins - are doing the leg work at the front of the main bunch and leaving riders scattered on the slopes behind them. This climb is taking it out of Thor too - his lead on the yellow jersey group has plummeted to under five minutes and he is getting reeled in very quickly indeed. We've got 60km to go, and two more climbs after this one.
A few splits appearing in the peloton - Cav and Cadel Evans are already in one Gruppetto and they are likely to go even further backwards in the next few km. At the front of the race, Denis Menchov is on a new bike (with stabilisers?) and is back up with that chase group.
We will have live commentary of the climax of this stage from the
Radio 5 Live team
from 1430 BST
today. Just click on the link below and away you go.
Thor's recovered from his little wobble and has opened up the gap on the peloton to six minutes and four seconds
to go. He's also two minutes and 13 seconds ahead of the chase group but is going uphill again now, on the slopes of the category two Cote d'Araches, and things won't get any easier for him in the final third of today's stage.
A few of you have pointed out that Sandy Casar
, who is in the group of 20 riders chasing Thor Hushovd, is moving up the virtual standings on the strength of today's stage - The Frenchman, who was also in yesterday's breakaway, started the day 15th overall, five minutes and 40 seconds behind Alberto Contador. At the moment, Casar's group are three-and-a-half-minutes ahead of the peloton containing all the big-hitters and he is up to (virtual) fourth in the General Classification.
If you've ever wondered what it's like to be on the side of a mountain when the Tour rumbles past, it's worth reading this
entertaining 606 post by Carl, a BBC News journalist
who was on the slopes of the Col Du Petit St Bernard yesterday. I, for one, am very jealous indeed!
Menchov has been descending in this year's Tour like an elephant on roller skates and he is quickly tasting tarmac again - this time on a right-hand bend, which he was tackling at a very slow speed anyway. He's been dropped by the chase group and is probably looking forward to going uphill again very soon - he finds that a bit easier.
Arggh - we do have a crash now...it was coming, wasn't it? Amets Txurruka comes off on another tightish corner and poor old Denis Menchov got tangled up too - both riders back on their bikes now though.
Oops - all this praise of Thor and his descending, and then he almost come a cropper - trying to take a right-hand bend, he wobbles and comes off the road. He stays on his bike, however, and bounces off the crash barrier before continuing on his way. The roads are wet in some places, dry in others, thanks to this crazy Alpine weather - and are very tricky to negotiate.
Thor still going strong and, with 83km to go, he's opened a gap of one-and-a-half minutes
on the chase group, with the peloton, led by Stuart O'Grady, five minutes and 45 seconds
Just a reminder that tomorrow's stage is a 40.5km time trial in Annecy - and a chance for Bradley Wiggins
to do some more damage in the General Classification, on paper at least (on the road will be more difficult!). It's not cut and dry that the course suits Wiggo any more than Contador or any of the other contenders in the GC - but it will be a great way of seeing who has got what left in the tank before Mont Ventoux on Saturday. We should wait and see what happens today first though...
1346: From Marv, via text on 81111:
(Re 1245) "Cav is young and will win the green jersey one day. The question is will Wiggy beat him to it by winning the yellow!"
Yep, the big Norwegian crosses the line at Praz Sur Arly and his day is going very well so far. He leads the next group of 22 riders by about a minute and the peloton are now four-and-a-half minutes further back, with 92km to go. All the big-hitters safely in the main bunch so far.
Thor approaching that intermediate sprint now - so those six points are in the bag. There is another one at Cluses (the 126km mark), if he can stay out in front that long.
1335: From Chris, via text on 81111:
(Re 1245) "Even if Cav did keep his points, the way Thor is riding today I don't think Cav would have held on to green for long."
Thor is about a minute ahead of the breakaway bunch, which still contains 22 riders - although they were spread out a bit by the time they went over the top of the Col des Saisies. The peloton are another four minutes further back.
Thor descending now, towards that intermediate sprint - which is at Praz Sur Arly at 75.5km - about 20km away. He will get six points if he gets there first, which would put him 24 points ahead of Cav overall.
1325: From Nick in Douglas, via text on 81111:
(Re 1245) "Before ecowarrior paints a picture of Hushovd as the saint he ain't, remember stage 13 where he had a right go at Peter Velits for having the audacity to sprint past him at the end! Not a nice piece of work!"
Thor was first over the top and collects the 15 King of the Mountains points but the prize he is really after is a win in the upcoming intermediate sprint. Not long afterwards, Mr Polka Dot jersey, Franco Pellizotti,
got to the front of the breakaway bunch and picked up 13 more points - it's looking good for him in that category now.
Big crowds on the slopes of Col des Saisies as Thor comes towards the summit - he's still working hard - the peloton have closed the gap to five minutes and 10 seconds
to go to the finish line. The weather seems to have calmed down a little bit too, for now at least.
dualtamac on 606:
"Hushovd has pulled off a masterstroke to practically guarantee the green jersey, which he deserves in my eyes after today and stage 14. Cav is certainly the fastest, but he needs to become more rounded."
We've just seen our first glimpse of Mark Cavendish
today - fair to say the Manx Missile does not enjoy the mountains and he has just been dropped by the peloton. It's going to be a long old day for Cav - let's hope he has something in the tank for the Champs Elysees on Sunday...
Saxo Bank are setting the pace at the front of the peloton, which is now five minutes and 33 seconds
behind Thor, who has around 4km to go before he reaches the top of Col des Saisies.
1305: From Kiwi Mike, via text on 81111:
(Re 1245) "Mark Cavendish was robbed by an official that had no idea what he was doing! I am an ex-bike rider and Thor was bang out of order to complain as he was trying to come up the inside of the barriers where there was no room. Ecowarrior has no idea!"
1300: Cyril Dessel
has become the latest rider to quit the Tour - the French AG2R rider pulled out during today's stage.
Thor is still going it alone - he has a lead of one minute and 45 seconds
on the 20 riders in the breakaway bunch and is around five minutes and 45 seconds
ahead of the peloton. We've got 121km
1254: From Owyn, via text on 81111:
"Re 1210, there is a race round the Welsh valleys, its called the Five Valleys Road Race, I've ridden it a few times and it poured down!"
1253: BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606:
"The wet conditions will work against anyone being able to make a move stick on the final climb but as Contador's just shown, there's plenty of risk of punctures as well which could play a role."
Nope, that didn't fix it. Contador hops on to his spare bike instead, and with his black rain jacket flapping in the wind, resumes his efforts to catch up with the peloton. He should be back in touch with the main bunch very soon.
Oooh. A problem for Alberto Contador
- the Spaniard has a rear-wheel puncture and has dropped off the peloton to get it sorted. He's back on his bike now, though, and is making his way back to the main bunch...I'm sure a couple of Astana boys will help him out.
1249: From Katherine, having lunch at work, via text on 81111:
"Re 1210, A Tour of the Welsh Valleys sounds good, could have an underground stage in an old coal mine perhaps?"
Thor has a lead of around three minutes and five seconds on the peloton, which is still being led by the Astana heavy mob. We've got 123km to go of today's stage and the riders are on the second of five climbs...no fireworks from the big-hitters in the General Classification yet, but plenty of time for all of that.
1245: From Ecowarrior, via text on 81111:
"Thor is showing Cav he is a complete rider. Cav should forget spouting off and handle setbacks such as his relegation (in stage 14 on Saturday) with dignity and respect. Thor is every bit a deserving green jersey winner. The only stain is from Cav dragging it through the mud."
The man in green, Thor Hushovd
, is attacking as the escapees head upwards again. The Norwegian is out on his own at the moment - there is an intermediate sprint at the 75.5km mark (Praz Sur Arly) and perhaps he fancies the six points on offer there as a way of finishing off Mark Cavendish's hopes in that category for good.
The front bunch are just starting their second climb of the day - up the Col de Saisies. Geoffrey Lequatre, who was in that group, is standing disconsolately at the side of the road - he's had mechanical problems and his bike his finished, but his Agritubel team car is back down the road and he will have to wait for a replacement...looks like he will be back with the peloton pretty soon then.
1234: From Mark in Bradford, via text on 81111:
"Fancy Menchov to win today. He'll be allowed a bit of time as he's so far back however not enough to let him back up the General Classification too much."
There are now 20 riders in the front bunch, including Menchov, Pellizotti, Hushovd, Sandy Casar, Thomas Voeckler, Hincapie and Sylvain Chavanel. They are two minutes and five seconds clear of the yellow jersey peloton, which contains Contador and all the big-hitters, Wiggins included.
The peloton is taking it very easy on this descent by the looks of things - not sure how far they are away from the front bunch now as the dodgy weather is affecting communication on the road. We've got 137km
to go and the sun is out again! Yipee!
Thor Hushovd, who is most definitely not on Mark Cavendish's Christmas card list, has got across to the front bunch - which is now up to 17 riders and boasts the polka dot and green jersey wearers. Egoi Martinez
is about to become the latest rider to bridge the gap from the peloton to the escapees as they continue their descent.
Climbing in the rain is pretty nasty - but descending is even worse. The front 12 riders are taking the bends pretty gingerly on the way down the mountain but there are a few very brave men coming off the top of the peloton in pursuit and not showing any sign of slowing down...I just hope I don't have to use my crash graphic anytime soon...
My mistake - Martinez was in the peloton, not the breakaway bunch - and it is Pellizotti who is first over the top of the Cormet de Roselend. The Italian picks up another 15 points to extend his lead in that category.
1210: From Mol_Daze, via text on 81111:
"The weather could be a factor here - Armstrong goes much better in the rain whereas Contador thrives in heat Presumably Wiggins is used to a bit of rain so should be OK. Although, having said that, Contador took the Paris-Nice lead in pouring rain and also specialises in the Tour of the Basque Country which, year after year, has the worst weather of any pro bike race (at least until someone invents a Tour of the Welsh Valleys."
Egoi Martinez, who lies second in the King of the Mountains category, has just gone off the front of the breakaway bunch - he wants these points for himself. The Spaniard is slowly being reeled back in though - don't think he will make it to the summit of the Cormet de Roselend on his own.
I'm pretty sure Franco Pellizotti is wearing polka dot pants today - everything else on him and his bike has that pattern on it (thanks to tgsgirl
for pointing out his shorts!). The rain's coming down very heavily now and the Italian has just pulled out a rain cape - guess what that looks like!?
Astana and Garmin are the teams at the front of the peloton - they are one minute and 15 seconds
behind the breakaway bunch with 154km
of today's 169km to go.
1200: From anon, via text on 81111:
"My mate Don is about to pass out with excitement - he loves Menchov."
Right then, we've got 12 riders at the front of the race - that chase group has caught Chavanel and a couple of others have got up there too. If you think Evans is having a nightmare Tour then what about Denis Menchov?
The Russian Rabobank rider is in this breakaway, however, and he will hope his luck has turned after lurching from one disaster to another in the first two weeks of the race. The weather has definitely turned now - the rain is coming down as they continue towards the summit of Cormet de Roselend.
Some news on Cadel Evans who, let's face it, is having a Tour to forget. The Australian (who is 1/8th Welsh) lost more time yesterday and admitted "I'm out of it. I'm out of the race. For a place on the podium at least. Today, things have got even worse already - he was dropped by the peloton in the first 20km, although he has since got back in touch. Big problems for the two-time runner up though.
Plenty of chat from you lot about Bradley Wiggins
- a big day for him today but, be honest, who expected him to be in the top three on the final day of racing in the Alps? A magnificent achievement already, let's hope he can keep things together today and push on in tomorrow's time trial too...
Franco Pellizotti, who picked up maximum points on both of yesterday's big climbs, is looking to secure the King of the Mountains
crown today - the Italian, who is currently 58 points ahead of Egoi Martinez in the battle for the polka dot jersey, promised to attack before the stage began and has stayed true to his word - he is in the group of nine riders chasing Chavanel, who is now 30 seconds clear of the main bunch.
1143: From Sian, pretending to work, on 81111:
"Enough with the Karpets puns. They're definitely wearing a bit thin."
Chavanel is still going for it and nobody has managed to reach him yet, although a chase group of nine riders has broken away from the peloton to pursue him. Oh, and for those of you who were asking - our streamed 5 Live
commentary starts at 1430 BST
A few early attacks on the slopes of the Cormet de Roselend but nobody has succeeded in escaping yet - Sylvain Chavanel
is the latest to try his luck. This stage is going to be tough enough as it is but it looks like the weather will play its part too - it's sunny and windy at the moment for the riders, but there is torrential rain at the finish, which could make things interesting later...
Speaking of crashes, we've had another one already - riders are scattered all over the road. You might remember one of them, Vladimir Karpets
, from yesterday's stage. He went down as though somebody had pulled a rug from under him but he's back on his bike now.
Some news on Jens Voigt, who you might remember crashed heavily on the descent down the Col du Petit St Bernard
The German Saxo Bank rider was flown to hospital in Grenoble with a fractured cheekbone and an injured right elbow - his Tour is over, but he seems to be on the mend already.
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)
1126: 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
wooley7 on 606:
"Looking forward to this one. Wiggins looked as fresh as anyone yesterday dealing with the attacks, as they came, with ease. Dare we dream that he could match the big boys again today or even try and make a few attacks of his own?"
We'll be keeping a close eye on Bradley Wiggins
too of course - he is still third overall and will be looking to cement his bid for a place on the podium in Paris on Sunday.
Alberto Contador in the yellow jersey is sure to face some attacks somewhere down the road, so we will find out if he can fend them off as effectively as he managed yesterday...and, who knows, he may even stage another assault of his own?
The riders are about to roll out of the neutral zone and get today's stage under way - they start by going straight up, to the top of the Cormet de Roselend.
Today really should be a cracker - there are five climbs in the 169.5km
between Bourg St Maurice and Le Grand Bornand, and four of them are category one. There's only a single short flat section in the entire stage, in the Sallanches Valley - apart from that, the riders will be either climbing or descending all day.
Morning all, who's looking forward to another day in the mountains then?