Michael Rasmussen won stage 16, the last of the Pyrenees stages, extending his lead over rival, Alberto Contador, to 3 minutes 10 seconds. In Monday’s stage, also in the Pyrenees, Contador taunted Rasmussen, accelerating and goading him to catch up. Contador seemed to be in better shape and in today’s stage, I thought Contador was going to shorten the time difference dramatically. Rasmussen said in an interview that he did not allow himself to get baited by Contador’s sudden sprints, which in the end, tired him out and allowed Rasmussen to breakaway about a kilometer from the finish. So tired was Contador that even Discovery Team’s Levi Leipheimer overtook him to finish second.
The standings in the general classement are:
1. Rasmussen (6 hours 23 min 21 sec)
2. Contador (3 min 10 sec)
3. Evans (5 min 3 sec)
4. Leipheimer (5 min 59 sec)
5. Sastre (9 min 12 sec)
Unless Rasmussen screws up completely, breaks his head or gets sent away for doping, he will win the yellow jersey this year.
Meanwhile, the Cofidis team withdrew after one of its riders, Cristian Moreni, tested positive for high levels of testosterone. Cofidis is the second team to withdraw after Astana yesterday.
Update on our Lanterne Rouge, Wim Vansenevant: he keeps last place. The peloton is down to 143 riders.