Costa celebrates in Gap

Doug Pensinger

We got the classic breakaway stage we expected with Rui Costa getting a welcome stagewin for Movistar in Gap, the entrance to the Alps in this years Tour de France. Behind the big breakaway we once again saw surprisingly aggressive riding among the favorites resulting in some movement in the top 10.

Rui Costa came to the Tour with a recent win in the Tour de Suisse in his back but disappointingly dropped out of the GC on the day he was called back to help his captain who got lost in the crosswinds the other day. Today he got brilliant compensation as he was the strongest by a fair margin in the big breakaway that got away early in the stage. On the final climb as the climb started attacking each other he counterattacked and rode away alone quite comfortably. On the descent into Gap he was never threatened by the chasing group behind as he took the second TdF stagewin of his career.

What happened behind on the final climb was perhaps even more interesting. Sky set a relatively hard pace and that was followed up by an attack by Katusha who set a blistering pace to split the favorites-group for Joaquin Rodriguez. This quickly crystallized a very select group with Rodriguez, Froome, Porte, Contador, Kreuziger, Valverde , Quintana and Mollema. These built up an advantage of about a minute on the closest chasers behind which included some top 10 riders who lost ground. Contador and Kreuziger even tried a few jabs at Froome who had to use up Porte in his attempts to close them down but once isolated Froome had no difficulties fending off the Saxo attacks.

Some final drama occurred on the descent to Gap, which took place on the same road that saw the infamous Beloki crash in 2003, as Contador seemed to misjudge a corner and took a bit of a tumble which forced Froome to ride almost off-road. They were both unharmed though and a short chase saw them rejoin the group in the end. Froome was not impressed with Saxo riding a bit recklessly on the descent to try and distance him and Contador in turned seemed less than impressed with Movistar's action as he and the yellow jersey were held up. It all looked like a bit of early psychological skirmishes ahead of the big Alpine stages to come in the next few days.

Top 10 Stage 16:

1. PORCOSTA Rui Alberto 124 MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 52' 45''
2. FRARIBLON Christophe 89 AG2R LA MONDIALE 03h 53' 27'' + 00' 42''
3. FRAJEANNESSON Arnold 77 FDJ.FR 03h 53' 27'' + 00' 42''
4. FRACOPPEL Jérôme 133 COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 03h 53' 27'' + 00' 42''
5. GERKLÖDEN Andreas 46 RADIOSHACK LEOPARD 03h 53' 27'' + 00' 42''
6. NEDDUMOULIN Tom 194 TEAM ARGOS-SHIMANO 03h 53' 45'' + 01' 00''
7. ESPASTARLOZA Mikel 112 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 03h 53' 46'' + 01' 01''
8. BELGILBERT Philippe 34 BMC RACING TEAM 03h 53' 49'' + 01' 04''
9. AUSMEYER Cameron 187 ORICA GREENEDGE 03h 53' 49'' + 01' 04''
10. LTUNAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas 177 GARMIN - SHARP 03h 53' 49'' + 01' 04''

General Classification:

1. GBRFROOME Christopher 1 SKY PROCYCLING 65h 15' 36''
2. NEDMOLLEMA Bauke 164 BELKIN PRO CYCLING 65h 19' 50'' + 04' 14''
3. ESPCONTADOR Alberto 91 TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 65h 20' 01'' + 04' 25''
4. CZEKREUZIGER Roman 94 TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF 65h 20' 04'' + 04' 28''
5. COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander 128 MOVISTAR TEAM 65h 21' 23'' + 05' 47''
6. NEDTEN DAM Laurens 167 BELKIN PRO CYCLING 65h 21' 30'' + 05' 54''
7. ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 101 KATUSHA TEAM 65h 22' 47'' + 07' 11''
8. DENFUGLSANG Jakob 63 ASTANA PRO TEAM 65h 22' 58'' + 07' 22''
9. FRAPÉRAUD Jean-Christophe 81 AG2R LA MONDIALE 65h 24' 23'' + 08' 47''
10. IRLMARTIN Daniel 175 GARMIN - SHARP 65h 25' 04'' + 09' 28''

Points Competition:

1. SVKSAGAN Peter 11 CANNONDALE 377 pts
2. GBRCAVENDISH Mark 151 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 278 pts
3. GERGREIPEL André 24 LOTTO-BELISOL 223 pts

Mountains Competition:

1. GBRFROOME Christopher 1 SKY PROCYCLING 83 pts
2. COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander 128 MOVISTAR TEAM 66 pts
3. ESPNIEVE ITURRALDE Mikel 116 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 53 pts

Young rider Competition:

1. COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander 128 MOVISTAR TEAM 65h 21' 23''
2. POLKWIATKOWSKI Michal 153 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 65h 25' 13'' + 03' 50''
3. USATALANSKY Andrew 178 GARMIN - SHARP 65h 29' 08'' + 07' 45''
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