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Tour de France 2011 Stage 16: Thor wins again, Ryder third, Schlecks lose time

Ryder achieves highest Tour de France stage placing of career

It was a great day for Garmin as Thor Hushovd and Ryder Hesjedal finished first and third on a rainy course from St. Paul Trois Chatreau to Gap. The God of Thunder edged out Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen for his second win of this Tour. Third place was Hesjedal’s highest ever stage finish in La Grand Boucle. In the GC hunt, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Sammy Sanchez attacked the other contenders on the Cat. 2 Col de Manse to put time into all their rivals. Andy Schleck suffered the biggest losses of the Big Hitters.

It was an unusual day for breakaways, as it took 100 kilometres for one to stick, though dozens of men tried again and again. Finally, a ten rider break escaped and had a five minute gap at the base of the Manse, only 20 km from the finish. At first Katusha’s Ignatiev climbed away, but Ryder stalked him down, passed him and took maximum points at the summit. Soon teammate Hushovd and Boasson Hagen joined him on the descent.

Back in the soggy peloton, Contador started launching sharp little attacks that the other GC favourites were at first able to mark. But after a half-kilometre of the usual mobile chess match, Alberto, Cadel and Sammy were able to pull away. Andy Schleck looked weak and slid to the back where he’d have to be rescued by teammate Maxime Monfort as Frank surged on ahead. On the descent, Evans attacked the other two, but only ended up four seconds ahead. In the end, it was less than 20 seconds the three gained over Frank, Cunego and yellow jersey wearer Voeckler, but 35 on Basso and over a minute over Andy. The gauntlet has been thrown down.