Stage 16 review: This stage was just meant to be about the breakaway or a solo effort. Nope. Instead the GC guys were called upon to lay claim to this years title. Midway up the day's climb, the 2nd category Col de Manse, Alberto Contador delivered a shock to the system. He jumped hard, catching everyone asleep at the wheel. The move was covered, so near the top he lit the jets again and only Samuel Sanchez and Cadel Evans could go with him.
They went over the top with more than a half minute lead. On the tricky, wet descent Evans got away and held a small gap to the finish. The Schlecks were no match for the Evans group on the technical descent and both lost time, Andy particularly. Voeckler finally saw an attack he couldn't handle, but he has retained the lead after a hard stage.
Up ahead, Hushovd was the best of an early escape that broke up on the climb, overpowering Edvald Boasson Hagen with the aid of teammate Ryder Hesjedal. Sets it up beautifully for the next 3 days in the Alps.
Stage 17 : Gap – Pinerolo 179km
The race heads into Italy via the Montgenèvre pass, climbs to Sestrières and then features a late complicating factor in the shape of the 7km Pramartino climb, off which the road descends steeply into the finish in Pinerolo.
The overall contenders are likely to wait until that last test before making any move today but the temptation for most will surely be to hold something back for the epic test the next day. That once again gives breakaway riders another good chance of going all the way to the finish. In fact, it is likely to be their final opportunity to do so.
Beer for the Stage: Van Dieman Little Hell ESB. Just released for winter 2011, we’ve designed this beer to get you through the cold winter nights, which lets be honest, is what we’re all doing at the moment. It begins with warm, spicy aromas leading into a rolling dried apricot and marmalade flavour with a polished residual malty sweetness. A sassy bitterness is achieved from dry hopping presenting a hellishly good example of the style.
Biere Locale: Brasserie Artisanale Des Grands Cols is in Briançon, at exactly the halfway point of today’s stage, perhaps appropriately with the feed station at this point. They produce a Witbier, Belgian pale ale and 2 spiced beers, but I’m suggesting none of the riders will be partaking in any consumption.