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TdF’09 St.17: One Final Hurrah In The Alps
Race Report: Team managers and riders alike have been nodding their heads in respect to today’s Stage 17 for months now. The massive five ascent stage does not finish on top of one of the climbs, but who needs a mountaintop finish when you have umpteen thousand vertical meters to deal with? Read on!

Heading into tomorrow’s time trial in Annecy, Stage 17 was always going to be a critical stage – and boy was it. The general classification turned upside down after the tough 5-climb, wet tramp through the French Alps. The only rider that managed to stay right side up in the classification? Alberto Contador. Andy and Frank Schleck made huge gains in the upward direction, Lance dropped downward off of the Schleck onslaught, and everyone else did a little moving and shaking in the GC.

The Schleck brothers rode an amazing stage to wrench themselves back onto the podium, and with style to spare. Contador still sits supreme atop the leaderboard, but the Schlecks stand to his right and left on the podium at the moment.

Yep, that’s a tough one.

An early break was once again the topic of discussion of today, but you’d never guess who spent a significant portion of the day out front…solo: Thor Hushovd.

Thor Hushovd picked up some serious hardman points today with his solo effort…on the hardest stage of the Tour no less!

Denis Menchov made the big break today, but managed to fall down again. He just can’t catch a break at the Tour, can he?

Straight through the heart of the Alps.

Cadel Evans’ abysmal week continued today with another abysmal ride. Something has gone very awry with the Aussie. We hope he can recover well enough to factor at some point before the race finishes.

Kenny Van Hummel’s heroic journey seems to have come to a sad end today – I haven’t seen his name in the results sheet. Alas.

Carlos Sastre started the real fireworks today with an attack from quite a ways out. The only thing he did though was excite the rest of the favorites. When Contaschleck ignited, there was nothing poor Sastre could do.

Far, far ahead of Kenny, the Schlecks managed to get rid of all but Alberto Contador.

Bradley Wiggins kept it together for a long while today, but couldn’t quite keep hold of Nibali and Armstrong. He’s still sitting strong overall.

Behind the dominant threesome of the Schlecks and Contador, Lance Armstrong and Vincenzo Nibali came in to round out the top 5 with great rides. Lance lost his #2 spot on GC, but there’s a little bit more racing still to come.

Alberto Contador again rode like a Tour de France winner today.

Stage 17 Results
1. Frank Schleck
2. Alberto Contador
3. Andy Schleck
4. Vincenzo Nibali 2:18
5. Lance Armstrong 2:18
6. Andreas Kloeden 2:27
7. Bradley Wiggins 3:07
8. Christophe Moreau 4:09
9. Christian VDV 4:09
10. Remi Pauriol 6:10

General Classification After 17 Stages
1. Alberto Contador
2. Andy Schleck 2:26
3. Frank Schleck 3:25
4. Lance Armstrong 3:55
5. Andreas Kloeden 4:44
6. Bradley Wiggins 4:53
7. Vincenzo Nibali 5:09
8. Christian VDV 8:08
9. Christophe Le Mevel 9:19
10. Mikel Astarloza 10:50


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