Christian Vande Velde?s chances of a place on the final Tour de France podium in Paris took a blow after the Garmin team leader finished more than four minutes behind stage winner Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) in Jausiers on Tuesday.

Vande Velde struggled to stay with the other overall contenders over the top of the Bonette-Restefond climb and then crashed on the descent. He got back up and chased hard on the long descent but lost 2-36 to Frank Schleck (CSC), Cadel Evans (Silence), Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) and Carlos Sastre (CSC).

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) also lost time after being dropped on the descent. He lost 35 seconds and is now fifth overall at 1-13.

Vande Velde is sixth overall, 3-15 behind Schleck. However after a career of riding for others, Vande Velde made it clear he will not give up fight for overall success.

?I was in difficulty on the final climb but I had a lot of help from Ryder (Hesjedal), he did an amazing job,? Vande Velde said after the finish.

?We were really close, we were only 35 seconds behind at the top, but then on the way down I crashed and a Cofidis guy crashed too. It was my fault, we were on a tight corner and I just lost it. Unfortunately we completely lost our rhythm and it took us a while to get going again near the bottom. By that point we?d lost so much time and moment.?

Vande Velde is a good time trialist and so can pull back time in the final time trial on Saturday but he predicted that anything could happen during Wednesday?s final stage through the Alps and up to Alpe d?Huez.

?It?s not over by any means,? he said defiantly.

?There?s a lot of guys suffering and I wasn?t far off. I was at 35 second and then I had the crash but it just compounded things. Anything can happen tomorrow.?

Wednesday?s stage could be great stage with the legendary climbs of Col du Galibier, the Col de la Crois de Fer and then up to Alpe d?Huez expected to finally great some big time gaps between the main favourites.



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 16: Dessel wins

Stage 15: Schleck takes lead in the Alps

Stage 14: Oscar Freire wins in Digne-les-Bains

Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win

Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 11: Arvesen wins

Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second

Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees

Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse

Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage

Stage six: Ricco storms to win

Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win

Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead

Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break

Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint

Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Schleck ready to defend Tour lead [stage 15]

Rest day news round-up [July 21]

Saunier Duval riders: “We are honest”

Cavendish talks to Cycling Weekly after quitting Tour

Schleck savours first ever Tour de France jersey [stage 15]

Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today

Cavendish pulls out of the Tour

Barloworld to end cycling sponsorship

Ricco speaks on Italian television

Cavendish joins the all-time greats

Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli

Tour bosses say fight against doping continues

Ricco denies doping at the Tour

Saunier Duval pull out of Tour

Tour’s top ten changes

Ricco positive for EPO at Tour

Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary

Cavendish battles through Pyrenees

Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]

Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour

Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]

Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]

Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders

David Millar: the dope controls are working

Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour

Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit

Doping back in Tour de France headlines

Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]

Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]

Millar to go for yellow [stage six]

Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]

Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win

Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]

Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]

Who is Romain Feillu?

Cavendish disappointed with stage two result

Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey

Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?

Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec

Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win

Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 15

Stage 14

Stage 13

Stage 12

Stage 11

Stage 11

Stage 10

Stage nine

Stage eight

Stage seven

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part five

Life at the Tour part four

Life at the Tour part three

Life at the Tour part two

Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>

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Day by day summary>>

Route & stages>>

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