Astarloza Basques in victory
Spaniard Mikel Astarloza won the 16th stage of the Tour de France, while compatriot Alberto Contador retained the yellow jersey.
Last Updated: 04/08/09 5:28pm
Mikel Astarloza timed his sprint to perfection to win the 16th stage of the Tour de France, while Alberto Contador retained the yellow jersey.
The Euskaltel Euskadi rider bided his time as part of a four-man group at the front before accelerating away from his rivals with two kilometres to go.
The man from the Basque country cruised over the line at the end of the 159km ride from Martigny to Bourg St Maurice to clinch his maiden stage victory on Le Tour.
Frenchmen Sandy Casar and Pierrick Fedrigo were second and third respectively while Nicolas Roche of Ireland was not far behind in fourth.
"I'm a good climber, I can keep a good pace on the flat, but I'm not a sprinter," said Astarloza, who finished ninth overall two years ago. "My only chance was to attack from far and I'm delighted it worked."
Contador was 59 seconds back of his compatriot in 10th place having easily dealt with an attack from Team Saxo Bank's Andy Schleck on the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, the second major climb of the day.
The break from 37km out left Lance Armstrong behind but the American managed to catch up to a group that also included Bradley Wiggins.
The seven-time winner came home in 12th place and remains one minute and 37 seconds back of Astana colleague Contador in the GC standings. Brit Wiggins is still in third, a further nine seconds back.
However, Cadel Evans' slim hopes of claiming the Maillot Jaune in Paris disappeared when he finished nearly three minutes back of his rivals.
The Australian now admits he has no chance of finishing on the podium, stating: "I'm out of it. I'm out of the race. For a place on the podium at least.
"Physically, everything (is) fine. But for professional reasons I can't comment on the problems I've been having."
Franco Pellizotti tightened his grip on the polka dot jersey by getting to the top of both the Col du Grand St Bernard and the Col du Petit St Bernard in front.
The Italian, who now leads the King of the Mountains standings by 58 points, had been joined by Russian Vladimir Karpets in riding clear of an initial band of 21 escapees.
Saxo Bank's Jens Voigt suffered a horror crash on the final descent and was flown to hospital in Grenoble.
Stage 17, the final day in the Alps, sees the riders face a gruelling 169.5km trek from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand that includes five climbs before a downhill finish.
Stage 16 result:
1. Mikel Astarloza (Spain / Euskaltel ) 4hrs 14mins 20secs
2. Sandy Casar (France / Francaise des Jeux ) +6
3. Pierrick Fedrigo (France / Bbox - Bouygues )
4. Nicolas Roche (Ireland / AG2R )
5. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Belgium / Silence - Lotto )
6. Amael Moinard (France / Cofidis )
7. Franco Pellizotti (Italy / Liquigas ) +11
8. Stephane Goubert (France / AG2R )
9. Christophe Moreau (France / Agritubel ) +59
10. Alberto Contador (Spain / Astana )
1. Alberto Contador (Spain / Astana ) 67hrs 33mins 15secs
2. Lance Armstrong (U.S. / Astana ) +1:37
3. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Garmin ) +1:46
4. Andreas Kloeden (Germany / Astana ) +2:17
5. Andy Schleck (Luxembourg / Saxo Bank ) +2:26