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
|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
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