Pereiro's efforts pay off in Pau

After losing out to George Hincapie on Sunday, Phonak's Oscar Pereiro gets his finish spot on in Pau

After losing out to George Hincapie on Sunday, Phonak's Oscar Pereiro gets his finish spot on in Pau

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

It's been very difficult to miss Phonak's Oscar Pereiro during the last week or so of the Tour. Coming out of the Alps, on the stage to Digne last week, the 27-year-old from Galicia in Spain's north-west misjudged a corner on a descent and went over the edge for a brief foray down a steep grassy slope that ended with a somersault and, thankfully, no serious damage.

Last Sunday, Pereiro got the race jury's vote as the most aggressive rider on the stage, although it was not much of a consolation given that he missed out on the victory that day to George Hincapie despite being the strongest rider in the break. Today, though, Pereiro secured that stage elusive win when he proved the quickest of three riders glued to Cadel Evans' wheel coming into the few hundred metres of the final Pyrenean stage into Pau, edging out compatriot Xabier Zandio for the win, with Eddy Mazzoleni third and the indefatigable Evans fourth, but with the considerable consolation of a move up to seventh overall.

Evans was one a group of 11 riders who went away after 26km of racing, his remit to prevent any green jersey rivals of team-mate Robbie McEwen winning points in intermediate sprints. Zandio, Chris Horner and Freddie Rodriguez were also up there.

The 11 stuck pretty much together over the Ichere and then the Marie Blanque climbs, but there was plenty of action in the peloton behind them on the second mountain, where Alexandre Vinokourov was again on the attack, together with Carlos Sastre, Levi Leipheimer and Andrei Kashechkin. The Kazakh Kashechkin's part in the break ended when he was clouted right on the nose by a fan brandishing an inflatable advertising tube, and he dropped back to remonstrate and receive treatment for a bloodied nose.

Pereiro joined the three attacking the peloton, who pulled them back, but the Spaniard went again and crossed the summit three minutes down on the leaders. He was soon joined by Mazzoleni, and the two of them gradually picked off the riders ahead of them on the subsequent Col d'Aubisque. Only Evans, who attacked from the lead group 7km from the Aubisque's summit, was still ahead of the two chasing riders as they headed towards the last big climb of this year's Tour, the Soulor.

Five minutes or so behind this group there was more frantic action in the yellow jersey group. Vinokourov started it with yet another offensive, then a number of other CSC and T-Mobile riders followed suit, including Jan Ullrich, until there were just seven riders with Armstrong at the summit, with the one surprise presence that of Roberto Heras.

On the descent from the Soulor, Evans - wearing a black armband in memory of Australian Institute of Sport rider Amy Gillett, who was killed when in collision with a car while training in Germany yesterday - was caught by Pereiro, Mazzoleni and Zandio. The quartet led the regathering peloton by more than six minutes, giving 11th-placed Evans the chance to jump well up into top 10 if he could maintain a decent advantage on Lance Armstrong and co.

This meant that the Australian ended up doing the lion's share of the work over the final 50km into Pau, and pretty much all of it for the last few kilometres into the line. Perhaps learning from his beating by Hincapie on Sunday, Pereiro waited until the last 200 metres before making his jump to the front. He quickly got a gap, and although Zandio was closing the Phonak rider was half a bike up at the line.

Evans had to wait more than three minutes to find out how much he had benefited from his day-long escapade, when it was confirmed he had leapt above Andreas Kloeden, Christophe Moreau, Vinokourov and Floyd Landis into seventh. A well-deserved place in the top 10 surely now awaits the Aussie Tour debutant in Paris.

Stage 16, Mourenx-Pau

1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 180.5km in 4.38.40 (38.86kph)
2 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Illes Balears
3 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Franaise des Jeux 2.25
6 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
7 Jrg Ludewig (Ger) Domina Vacanze
8 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo
9 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r
10 Cdric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis

24 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 3.24
27 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile
28 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
29 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
35 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears
36 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel
37 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
38 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC
44 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
51 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile
62 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval
65 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 10.05
66 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step
81 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis
106 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 20.16
107 Luke Roberts (Aus) CSC
120 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
121 Baden Cooke (Aus) Franaise des Jeux 21.33
122 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
128 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r
155 Brad McGee (Aus) Franaise des Jeux

Overall standings

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 66.52.03 (42.03kph)
2 Basso 2.46
3 Rasmussen 3.09
4 Ullrich 5.58
5 Mancebo 6.31
6 Leipheimer 7.35
7 Evans 9.29
8 Landis 9.33
9 Vinokourov 9.38
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crdit Agricole 11.47
11 Klden 12.01

17 Julich 19.03
18 Hincapie 19.35
32 Horner 52.41
38 Rogers 1.07.37
75 O'Grady 2.08.30
102 McGee 2.34.54
103 Davis 2.35.18
114 Roberts 2.58.23
124 Rodriguez 3.12.12
136 McEwen 3.22.28
143 Cooke 3.26.05
144 Gerrans 3.26.25

Points

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 164
2 O'Grady 150
3 McEwen 142
4 Vinokourov 90
5 Robert Frster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 84
6 Pereiro 82

King of the Mountains

1 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 185
2 Pereiro 135
3 Armstrong 92
4 Boogerd 90
5 Moreau 89
6 Botero 88

Young rider: Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel
Team: T-Mobile

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