Tour de France 2012: Stage 16

Will Wiggins be the first Brit in yellow?

Tour de France 2012: Stage 16

Pau-Bagnères-De-Luchon 197 km (122 miles). Two HC category climbs and two category 1. All in all, a tough day in the Pyrenees, but it's going to be these last stages that will determine whether Bradley Wiggins (Britain) will be the first Englishman in yellow, or whether someone else will steal the title away from him mere days away from Paris.

Tour Talk
Frank Schleck is a nonstarter today. He has been charged for doping and forced out of the Tour. The traces of the drug found in his urine is a diuretic, which sounds like it wouldn't add anything to one's performance, it doesn't. What it does do is flush out the system, possibly to remove traces of another actual performance-enhancing drug. Frank's comments on the matter, were that he was possibly poisoned. Highly unlikely, especially at this stage of the Tour when riders are especially meticulous about what they are putting in their bodies.

Stage Highlights
• Thirty-eight-man break away. Some notable names in the break away include Thomas Voeckler (France) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan). Voeckler leads the break away over the first col.

• The second col today is the famous Col Du Tourmalet. The Tour has encountered this climb many times before, never without drama. The last time the Tour climbed Tourmalet was in stage 17 of Tour 2010. The stage came down to a race between that year's two primary overall contenders, Alberto Contador (Spain) and Andy Schleck (Luxembourg). Schleck won the stage. Today, the first rider over the summit of the col will receive a bonus prize of € 5000 as it is the highest summit of the Pyrenees stages this Tour. When asked about what he thought of the day's tough stage, Wiggo blandly stated, "It goes uphill like all of them, it's very difficult". When asked about how he expected life to be if he were to win the Tour 2012 he was much more eloquent, "I'm just determined to go back to normal life. I hope things stay relatively the same." Wow, easy diva.

• The order over the Tourmalet: Voeckler, Brice Feillu (France), Daniel Martin (Ireland), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden), Chris Anker Sorensen (Denmark).

• As the peloton road toward the summit of the col Cadel Evans (Australia) was dropped! It seems he just can't keep up the pace with those leading the peloton, which includes Wiggins and his domestiques (aka bitchen British gang). Evans makes it back to the peloton, but is dropped soon after. He was eventually helped by a couple of teammates, but there was no sign of Tejay van Garderen (USA), Evans's key domestique.

• TVG is eventually found … in the peloton with Wiggo! He has been in the peloton the entire time. Either team BMC's objectives have changed from getting Evans in the yellow jersey, to keeping TVG in the white jersey. Or, TVG has decided on his own that he's staying in white. If so, in the famous words of a great toupée, "Yuh fiyud." Evans has returned to the peloton, no thanks to TVG!

• Voeckler and Feillu are the two leading break away riders, but Feillu is soon dropped. Meanwhile the pace picks up again in the peloton and Evans is dropped again. There are a couple of attacks by Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), third in line for the yellow jersey, but they are no match for Wiggo's and his gang.

• The results over the last col are: Voeckler, Sorensen C., Vinokourov, Gorka Izaguirre (Spain), Feillu, Jens Voigt (Germany). The stage is looking like a sure thing for Voeckler. Alternatively, Evans is now 3 minutes behind the peloton. He is likely to move further back in the standings after today's stage.

• Voeckler has won the stage today, which no one could argue that he didn't deserve, having been in the break away nearly all day long. Bravo Voeckler! This is his second stage win this Tour.

Top 5 Finishers in Today's Stage: Voeckler, Sorensen C., Izaguirre, Vino, Feillu.

Jersey Lineup End of Stage 16
Yellow Jersey (best overall): Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
White Jersey (best young rider): Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC
Green Jersey (best sprinter): Peter Sagan (Slovakia) Liquigas
Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains): Thomas Voeckler (France) Europcar

Top 10 Finalists in the Tour after Stage 16
1) Bradley Wiggins (Britain) Sky
2) Christopher Froome (Britain) Sky
3) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) Liquigas
4) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Belgium) Lotto-Belisol
5) Haimar Zubeldia (Spain) RadioShack Nissan Trek
6) Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
7) Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC
8) Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) Astana
9) Pierre Rolland (France) Europcar
10) Thibaut Pinot (France) FDJ-Bigmat

More by Larysa Pachulski
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