Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Schleck keeps the lead

Associated Press

JAUSIERS, France – Frank Schleck of Luxembourg kept the yellow jersey in the Tour de France on Tuesday, with riders pushing themselves through the Alps as the race left Italy and returned to France.

French rider Cyril Dessel won the 16th stage for his first stage victory in this race. He led a breakaway group of four to a downhill finish, completing the 98-mile trip from Cuneo, Italy, in 4 hours, 31 minutes, 27 seconds.

Schleck refrained from attacking during the mountain climbs, choosing to stay with his closest rivals. He finished 1 minute, 28 seconds behind Dessel and gain ground on two rivals – Russia’s Denis Menchov and Christian Vande Velde, an American contending in a major three-week race for the first time.

A more decisive performance could come today, when the Tour’s toughest stage ends with the storied serpentine climb to L’Alpe d’Huez.

Schleck’s main title rivals finished in the same time. Bernhard Kohl of Austria remains second overall, seven seconds behind, and pre-race favorite Cadel Evans of Australia is third, eight seconds back.

Evans may have been the biggest winner Tuesday. The Australian would be content to stay eight seconds behind Schleck through the mountains, then blow his rival away in the final time trial Saturday. The race ends Sunday in Paris.

“I’m very happy because it would have been too tough to do tomorrow’s stage with the yellow jersey,” said Roberto Damiani, sporting director for Evans’ Silence-Lotto team. “Evans is only eight seconds behind, but the pressure is still on CSC right now.”

Menchov and Vande Velde had trouble on the concluding descent. Menchov simply couldn’t keep up with the other race leaders, while Vande Velde fell.

Menchov lost 35 seconds and dropped from fourth to fifth overall, 1:13 behind. The damage for Vande Velde was far greater, with the Chicagoan losing 2:36 and dropping from fifth to sixth overall.