Tour de France: Vinokourov to keep attacking after netting fourth place on stage 16
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tour de France: Vinokourov to keep attacking after netting fourth place on stage 16

by VeloNation Press at 5:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Kessiakoff to keep battling after Voeckler seizes mountains jersey

Alexandre VinokourovRiding his final Tour de France, Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov knows that he is running out of chances to take a farewell stage win in the race. Yesterday was his best performance yet in this year’s event, with the Kazakh rider getting into the day’s break, suffering on the Tourmalet but then becoming stronger in the second half of the stage, netting fourth at the line in Bagnères-de-Luchon.

“I gave everything to get a win and defend Kessiakoff’s polka dot jersey, but unfortunately Voeckler was unstoppable,” he said.

According to team manager Giuseppe Martinelli, the veteran will keep attacking in the hunt for that farewell victory. “Vinokourov was exceptional, with a real show of pride and class that only champions are capable of. I am sure he is not satisfied with fourth place and will try again before we get to Paris.”

With Friday’s stage looking like a possible one for the sprinters and Saturday being a time trial, today’s race is his best chance, providing he can recover.

Team-mate Fredrik Kessiakoff will also be planning to race aggressively, with the Swede vowing to bounce back after being pushed out of the mountains jersey yesterday by stage winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).

The Astana rider had started the day with 69 points, 32 ahead of Voeckler. He was second on the Col d’Aubisque and fourth on the Col du Tourmalet, but out of the points on the Col d’Aspin and the Col de Peyresourde; in fact, he suffered a lot in the second half of the stage and finished over fourteen minutes behind Voeckler in 45th place.

With the Frenchman picking up maximum points on each of the four climbs, the net effect was that Voeckler ended the day with 107 points, four more than his Swedish rival. It is a narrow margin, but yesterday was undoubtedly demoralising.

Still, Kessiakoff has worked hard to try to win that competition and said he isn’t about to give up. “Today was five and a half hours of suffering,” he said after the stage. “I was aiming to get maximum points in the first two climbs – the Col d’Aubisque and the Tourmalet – and instead I came second and fourth, with Voeckler managing to get all the points available for the stage.

“I hope he will be a bit more tired than me after today. Tomorrow I will come out fighting to win back the jersey.”

If he does have better legs, the seventeenth stage offers more than enough points to seal the competition. There are five climbs on offer, beginning with the Col de Menté (category 1, km 27.5), then progressing with two smaller climbs, the Col des Ares (cat 2, km 55.5) and the Cote de Burs (cat 3, km 76). After that things get considerably tougher, with a bundle of points available atop the 1,755 metre Port de Balès (hors categorie, km 111.5) and on the finishing climb, the first category Peyragudes (km 142.5).

It’s certain that there’s a big tussle in store between the two riders, with the prestige of a podium place in Paris spurring both on.

As for the general classification, Jani Brajkovic remains eighth overall and could rise higher if he has a good day today.
 

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