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2011 Tour de France notebook, stage 16: Cleaner climbing; Thor’s super Tour

2011 Tour de France, stage 16 notebook
Aussie legend Phil Anderson was at the finish in Gap. No surprise, he thinks Cadel Evans will win. Photo: Andrew Hood

GAP, France (VN) — Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Cervelo) says he’s encouraged by signs that this Tour de France is a cleaner race.

The team manager cited the climbing stage up Plateau de Beille last weekend as one example. The climbing speed was slowest in five climbs up the mountain (44:03 for Alberto Contador in 2007 versus 46:08 for Jelle Vanendert) and nearly three minutes slower than Pantani in 1998 (though the finish line was slightly lower on the mountain).

“One, they went up the Beille three minutes slower than Pantani did in 1998. Three minutes slower,” Vaughters told VeloNews. “The speed on the climbs is down. The best climbers in the world cannot come close to matching what guys did back in the 1990s, even with bikes that are two kilograms lighter.

“Those are all kinds of signs that the racing is much cleaner. It’s there in the math. The time up this is 10 percent slower and oxygen consumption is 10 percent lower, on average with the top guys. I think it’s great that you see the top guys on a very close playing field.”

Vaughters also said the tight GC picture is another sign that cycling is slowly cleaning up its act.

“These are high-level athletes within micro-percentages of training, talent and ability of one another. I think it’s great to see,” Vaughters continued. “The proof’s in the pudding. The data has been there that the racing is much cleaner. It’s been a little bit sad that there have been these scandals here and there that make people think otherwise, but quite frankly, the science points to the fact the racing is cleaner — period. You can see that in the speeds of the climb and you can see that in the tightness of the competition.”

Thor makes his own Tour luck

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) dashed to his 10th career Tour stage win in typical heroic fashion.

Scores of Norwegian fans were waiting around the Garmin bus to cheer on the world champion.

2011 Tour de France, stage 16 notebook
Norwegian fans were out in force in Gap to cheer on Hushovd. Photo: Andrew Hood

Hushovd admits that he’s changed his style of racing. He no longer challenges for the bunch sprints and has quickly evolved into an attacking rider who wins out of breakaways.

“This has been a super Tour de France for me. I didn’t win the stage that I wanted to (Lisieux – stage 6), I was still there all the time, defending the yellow jersey,” Hushovd said. “I went into the breakaways to win, but it just wasn’t by accident. I knew those stages were good for me and I planned on it. Of course, I needed a little luck but I also focused on those stages.”

Jerseys

Yellow: Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) defended thé maillot jaune, but lost 21 seconds to Cadel Evans (BMC), who climbed into second at 1:45 back.
Green: Jose Rojas (Movistar) grabbed 3 points at the finish line to nudge closer to Mark Cavendish (HTC), who leads 319-285.
Polka-dot: Jelle Vanendert (Omega-Lotto) defended, but Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) pulled within two points, 74-72
White: No changes in U25 jersey, Rigoberto Uran (Sky) leads Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) by 1:07
Best team: Garmin-Cervelo surged into the lead with Thor Hushovd and Ryder Hesjedal in the day’s winning break. It now leads Leopard-Trek by 7:01.

2011 Tour de France, stage 16 notebook
Tom Danielson said he lost contact with the group on the final descent. Photo: Andrew Hood

Most aggressive: Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) won the day’s prize

Jury decisions

200CHF fine for Astana sport director Dmitri Sedoun for irregular feed

Medical report

70km crash – Leonardo Duque (Cofidis), cuts to knee, elbow, palm
Yohann Gene (Europcar) – general fatigue
Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) – pain from stitches in face

Peloton

All 170 starting riders remain in the race.

Weather

Mostly sunny skies, moderate 10-20kph westerly tailwinds, temperatures around 12C on summit, 27C at finish line.

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