Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stage 16: Descending rapidly

I jinxed him. Magnus Backstedt, the massive Swedish sprinter on the Liquigas team who had a difficult time finishing two days ago, was a non-starter today. Backstedt described the brutal day he had trying to make the finish line of Stage 15 before the cutoff. [Update: Later it was said he had bronchitis.] Similarly, Gianluca Bortolami, an Italian rider on the Lampre - Caffita team, didn't sign in at the start of the stage. However, everyone who started today finished the stage, which leaves 156 riders (82% of stage 1 starters) still in the Tour as we leave the mountains.

The last 35 riders finishing today all arrived safely in the autobus, so there were no stragglers left in the Pyrenees. That means there were also no big shakeups in the final standings.

Although former Lanterne Rouge and mountain climber extraordinaire Leonardo Piepoli finished only 3:24 behind the stage winner in the 50-rider peloton, he didn't gain any time on the riders ahead of him in the standings and keeps his 20th position in the general classification.

Iker Flores of Euskaltel-Euskadi remains in the Lanterne Rouge position with a 6:09 margin to his next runner-up, Wim Vansevenant of Davitamon-Lotto, with Janeck Tombak of Cofidis staying in the same relative position 4:42 farther back.

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