Savoldelli denies Arvesen on longest day

Paolo Savoldelli takes Discovery Channel's second victory in three stages, catching and passing CSC'

Paolo Savoldelli takes Discovery Channel's second victory in three stages, catching and passing CSC'

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

After six years when not a single US Postal team-mate of Lance Armstrong won a road stage of the Tour while their team leader notched up 21, their successors at Discovery Channel now have two to their credit with Armstrong yet to get off the mark in his new team's colours. Win number two for Armstrong's back-up team came courtesy of Paolo Savoldelli, who overhauled CSC's Kurt-Asle Arvesen in the last hundred metres of the longest stage into Revel just three days on from George Hincapie's victory at St Lary Soulan.

The Giro champion was one of four riders who had spent most of the day as part of a group of 17, before going clear in the last few kilometres. The move was started after 30km by French champion Pierrick Fedrigo, who was soon joined by Arvesen, then Erik Dekker and Carlos Da Cruz, and then 13 others including Discovery pair Savoldelli and Jos Luis Rubiera, Liberty's Allan Davis, Ag2r's Simon Gerrans and procycling Fab 4 member Thomas Lovkvist.

Their lead ballooned to a 2005 Tour high of more than 25 minutes, before the peloton began a half-hearted attempt at limiting its losses. By then there was no hope of the 17 being overhauled, and the first attempt to reduce the size of the lead group was made by Dekker with 48km left.

The veteran Dutchman was chased down, and as he was Domina Vacanze's Andrei Grivko countered, and was joined by young Australian Gerrans, and then Savoldelli, Arvesen, Sebastian Hinault, Oscar Sevilla, Bram Tankink and Daniele Righi. These eight cooperated well and soon put the stage beyond the reach of the nine chasing behind them.

Cooperation ended on the final 3rd-cat climb 10km from the finish. Quick Step's Tankink made the first break, and Crdit Agricole's Hinault then chased past him. Left initially, Savoldelli gave an indication of his remaining strength and speed by powering up the climb and catching Hinault having been a long way back. The Frenchman stuck to the Italian's wheel, not keen to come through even when Arvesen and Gerrans began to close the gap.

With 3km to go, and after a lot of head-shaking from Savoldelli in Hinault's direction, the pair behind reached the front two, but as they did Savoldelli went again. Arvesen did most of the work to get the three chasers back up to the Giro champion, and with just over a kilometre left the Norwegian made an attack of his own.

Once again, Savoldelli was left to do all of the chasing. Gerrans was dropped quickly, and clearly had nothing left, but Hinault again stuck to the Italian's wheel. More head-shaking ensued, but when Savoldelli powered out of the final corner and began his pursuit of Arvesen the Frenchman just gave up. Like Gerrans, he was completely spent.

The final grind to the line was more time trial than sprint, Arvesen and Savoldelli staying in the saddle. The Italian eased by just before the line for his debut Tour success.

Action over, or so it seemed. But Alexandre Vinokourov again showed he's prepared to attack just about anywhere when he jumped clear of the peloton on the final climb. Most of the overall contenders responded, but Floyd Landis and Cadel Evans missed out. The 20 seconds that Vinokourov gained on the pair bounced him over both of them into seventh place.

Stage 17, Pau-Revel

1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 239.5km in 5.41.19 (42.10kph)
2 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r 0.08
4 Sbastien Hinault (Fra) Crdit Agricole 0.11
5 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Domina Vacanze 0.24
6 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) T-Mobile 0.51
7 Bram Tankink (Hol) Quick Step
8 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 0.53
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r 3.14
10 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros

18 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 22.28
19 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile
20 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
21 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
22 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile
23 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel
24 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
25 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
26 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC
27 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears
28 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 22.48
32 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
33 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
45 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval 23.14
59 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 23.29
73 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 24.20
91 Luke Roberts (Aus) CSC
103 Baden Cooke (Aus) Franaise des Jeux
108 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step
137 Brad McGee (Aus) Franaise des Jeux 25.54
154 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 27.35
155 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis

DNF Andreas Klden (Ger) T-Mobile

Overall standings

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 72.55.50
2 Basso 2.46
3 Rasmussen 3.09
4 Ullrich 5.58
5 Mancebo 6.31
6 Leipheimer 7.35
7 Vinokourov 9.38
8 Evans 9.49
9 Landis 9.53
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crdit Agricole 12.07

17 Hincapie 19.35
18 Julich 20.55
32 Horner 53.27
38 Rogers 1.09.29
73 O'Grady 2.08.50
82 Davis 2.16.00
104 McGee 2.38.20
118 Roberts 3.00.15
120 White 3.00.52
122 Gerrans 3.03.51
128 Rodriguez 3.17.19
136 McEwen 3.23.29
142 Cooke 3.27.57

Points

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole 164
2 O'Grady 150
3 McEwen 142
4 Davis 101
5 Vinokourov 97
5 Robert Frster (Ger) Gerolsteiner 84

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: Discovery Channel

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