Alberto Contador used the mountaintop finish in Verbier to make it abundantly clear he is the man to beat at the 2009 Tour de France. The Spaniard attacked a group of the main contenders as they ascended the category 1 climb and led the rest of the way to the finish.
Despite a breakaway and several attacks early in the stage, everyone more or less came together at the base of the 8.7-kilometer final climb. Team Saxo Bank set the tempo early on, as Fabian Cancellara set up Andy and Frank Schleck. But as the riders made their way up, the group began to thin out. Rinaldo Nocentini, in the yellow jersey, slowly dropped back. Carlos Sastre looked to have been falling behind at one point, but managed to return to the chasing group and finish sixth on the stage.
Andy Schleck tried to bridge the gap created by Contador's attack, but couldn't catch the Astana rider, who looked strong and confident as he maneuvered along the switchbacks leading up to the Swiss resort town. Bradley Wiggins attempted an attack on the chasing contenders, but was quickly caught by Andréas Klöden and Lance Armstrong.
Wiggins took over leadership of the Garmin-Slipstream team after Christian Vande Velde couldn't hold on to the pace of the climb and lost too much time in the overall classification.
Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen did not start the stage due to a stomach ailment, and Vladimir Efimkin pulled himself out of the race early on. Tomorrow, the riders enjoy a rest day in Verbier.
Alberto Contador celebrates winning Stage 15 in Verbier.
AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski
Stage 15 Results
- Alberto Contador – Astana – 5:03:58
- Andy Schleck – Team Saxo Bank +00:43
- Vincenzo Nibali – Liquigas +01:03
- Frank Schleck – Team Saxo Bank +01:06
- Bradley Wiggins – Garmin-Slipstream +01:06
- Carlos Sastre – Cervelo TestTeam +01:06
- Cadel Evans – Silence-Lotto +01:26
- Andréas Klöden – Astana +01:29
- Lance Armstrong – Astana +01:35
- Kim Kirchen – Team Columbia-HTC +01:55
Other U.S. Riders
22. Christian Vande Velde – Garmin-Slipstream +02:41
36. George Hincapie – Astana +04:06
104. David Zabriskie – Garmin-Slipstream +12:11
115. Danny Pate – Garmin-Slipstream +13:15
136. Tyler Farrar – Garmin-Slipstream +18:12
- Alberto Contador – Astana – 63:17:56
- Lance Armstrong – Astana +01:37
- Bradley Wiggins – Garmin-Slipstream +01:46
- Andréas Klöden – Astana +02:17
- Andy Schleck – Team Saxo Bank +02:26
207.5K (128.9 miles) - July 19, 2009
• Six times has Pontarlier hosted the Tour
• Verbier is a first-time host
• This entrance into the Swiss Alps also marks the final week before Paris
• The day after this stage is a rest day in Verbier
• Sprint Points at: Thierrens, Martigny
• Mountain Passes: Côte du Rafour located at 8 kilometers - 3.7km climb to 5.1 percent grade - Category 3; Col des Etroits at 18.5km - 1.5km climb to 5 percent grade - Cat. 3; Côte de La Carriere at 54km - 6.3km climb to 4.4 percent grade - Cat. 3; Côte de Prevonloup at 74km - 4.5km climb to 4.7 percent grade - Cat. 3; Col des Mosses at 135km - 13.8km climb to 4 percent grade - Cat. 2; Verbier at 207.5km - 8.8km climb to 7.5 percent grade - Cat. 1
Image courtesy of www.letour.com
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