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Tour de France: Alexandre Vinokourov wins stage 15

Monday, July 23, 2007

Stage 15 profile

Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan has won stage 15 of the 2007 Tour de France in a time of 5h 34' 28".

Michael Rasmussen of Denmark kept his overall lead by 2' 23' over Alberto Contador of Spain. The two extend their lead on Cadel Evans of Australia by 1' 37", and more on the rest of the contenders.

Today's 196 km stage is one of the major stages of the Tour, with no fewer than five major mountain passes - including the Col de Port, the Col de Portet d'Aspet (5.7 km climb at 6.9%), the Col de Menté (7.0 km climb at 8.1%), the Port de Balès (19.5 km at 6.2%), (the first time this climb has featured in the Tour), and finally the Col de Peyresourde (9.7 km climb at 7.8%) with a downhill finish in Loudenvielle.

Tomorrow is a rest day for the Tour.

Post-stage statements

Yesterday, I admit, was a terrible day. It really affected my mind and that’s one of the reason I finished so far behind the peloton at Plateau de Beille. When I got back to the hotel last night I realized that the hope of victory in the Tour de France was over for me. The team asked me if I wanted to abandon but I told them I’d never give up. I spoke with the guys and they all said they’d support me with my new goal, a stage victory.

“Since the crash, I haven’t been able to fully recover but I’m always optimistic. Today was indeed a good day. It’s no time for regrets about the general classification I just had a bit of bad luck but that’s race.

 
— Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana Team
It was a good day for me. It turned out to be a spectacular stage and I wanted to manage a good place. Other than what happened in front, it ended well for me. I tried to attack and I hoped to be able to drop Rasmussen but he continues to prove that he’s really strong.

Each time I attacked he was able to come back to me, but I have to take inspiration from the last two days because we have taken time out of the time trial specialists and Rasmussen and I have a good lead in the general classification and there’s still another very tough mountain stage yet to come. This is my first Tour and it was meant to be a learning experience but I’ve had great support from my team. It’s an honor to ride for Discovery Channel because I always admired the way they controlled the race. My hero is Lance Armstrong because of the way he won seven Tours but also because of the way he beat cancer. I had an operation on my brain a few years ago and there was a lot of doubt about how I would be but now I’m back on the bike and that’s when I’m happiest.

 
— Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
My team was fantastic today and I owe a lot to them all but especially to Michael Boogerd who was exceptional. I can’t thank my team enough. To have Menchov in the escape at the start and then come back to help was a great display of commitment from the whole Rabobank squad. The pace Boogerd set on the last two climbs made it difficult for anyone to attack me until Alberto Contador took charge. And when he went, nobody could respond and I certainly had a tough job just staying on his wheel.

My big objective today was to control the race today and stay with Contador if he attacked, which is something we’ve learned that he’s likely to do. He attacked multiple times and each time it was really, really fast. He has a fantastic acceleration which I could not follow but I was able to fight my way back each time but he had a bit of an advantage because he was so fast that he caught the motorbikes a couple of times at the top of the Col de Peyresourde which made it even more difficult for me. In the end, I managed to stay with him until the top but if I hadn’t, I would have been in trouble because Contador had the benefit of having Hincapie waiting for him at the top of the final climb. Contador has the best acceleration in the whole peloton and I was under pressure but I still stayed with him and I’m happy with that effort. We still have the hardest stage of the entire race remaining. On Wednesday we finish on top of the Col d’Aubisque so nothing is final yet.

 
— Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank

Stage 15 results

General classification after stage 15

Sources