Vino goes on the attack again
Just when we think his race is over, he bounces back. Just when we think we might have written him of too soon, he collapses in the first Pyrennean stage. Then he goes and wins stage 15 into Loudenvielle. Alexandre Vinokourov can’t be accused of failing to show some fine fighting spirit in the face of adversity.
Despite nursing injured knees with any upwards of 30 stitches between them, Vino moved ahead of a fragmented breakaway group on the Col de Peyresourde, flying down the 12km descent into Loudenvielle 51 seconds ahead of second placed Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile).
Vino may have caused a stir amongst those who had thought his tank was empty, but it was Alberto Contador who was again causing trouble for GC leader Michael Rasmussen. Approaching the summit of the final climb, Contador attacked again and again, testing Rasmussen repeatedly. Rasmussen was able to resist and kept the young Spaniard in check. At times, they almost came to a standstill in the manner of a Match Sprint, with the crowds closing in around them, with each rider waiting for the other to pounce. It was a thrilling moment in what is already turning out to be one of the most exciting Tours of the last decade.
Rasmussen and Contador eventually finished together, 5.31 back from Vinokourov, and importantly for the climbing duo further distanced their closest contender Cadel Evans by 56 seconds. It’s rapidly becoming a battle between Rasmussen and Contador, unless one of the other contenders can produce something special on the final stage in the Pyrenees.