The Col de la Bonette-Restefond, the highest climb in Europe inspired some spectacular racing on stage 16 but the battle the yellow jersey is set for perhaps a final showdown on Wednesday?s 210.5km stage to L?Alpe d?Huez.

Frenchman Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) won in Jausiers on Tuesday after being part of the early attack that formed along the valley while the Tour was still in Italy. The Col de la Lombarde splintered the 29 front group as the overall contenders happily let other riders take the spotlight, with Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) the most aggressive.

The powerful German also attacked on the Col de la Bonette-Restefond but was caught before the top and passed by John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld), who went on to win the Souvenir Henri Desgrande at the top of the highest climb of the race.

The South African was having a great day but then crashed on the descent, going over the side of the road and sliding down a long slope of dirt and dust. His managed to clamber back up to the road but finished five minutes down.

Dessel attacked on the descent with Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux), Yaroslav Popovych (Silence) and David Arroyo (Caisse d?Epargne) and they fought for the stage win. Arroyo and Popovych attacked in the final kilometre but Dessel timed it right to take the biggest win of his career.

FRANK SCHLECK STILL IN YELLOW JERSEY
There was no change at the very top of the overall standings, with Frank Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) safely retaining the yellow jersey. He is still seven seconds ahead Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) and eight ahead of Cadel Evans (Silence). Carlos Sastre (CSC) is fourth at 49 seconds.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) slipped to fifth at 1-13 after losing 35 precious seconds on the technical descent of the Col de la Bonette-Restefond. Kim Kirchen (Columbia) lost the same amount, while Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) suffered on the climb and then crashed on the descent. He lost 2-36 to the other contenders and is now sixth at 3-15.

Tomorrow’s stage from Embrun culminating in the mountain top finish of Alpe d’Huez is likely to be a massive decider in the overall classification. Frank Schleck is going to have to pull something special to put enough time between him and Evans to prevent the Aussie from taking back the yellow jersey in the final time trial.

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE 16 RESULTS
1. Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 157km in 4h 31m 27secs

2. Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJeux
3. David Arroyo (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne all at same time
4. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Silence-Lotto at 3secs
5. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia at 24secs
6. Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne
7. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r all at same time
8. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 1m 3secs
9. Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at 1m 28secs
10. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner at same time.

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 16
1. Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank

2. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner at 7secs
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 8secs
4. Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank at 49secs
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 1m 13secs
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle at 3m 15secs
7. Kim Kirchen (Ger) Columbia at 3m 23secs
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 4m 11secs
9. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 4m 38secs
10. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r at 5m 23secs

Tour de France 2008Chris Froome on stage 16

Tour de France 2008Col de la Bonette-Restefond

Tour de France 2008Stefan Schumacher on his lone stint in front

Tour de France 2008Frank Schleck stays in yellow

Photos by Graham Watson



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

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>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
Teams and riders>>
About the Tour>>