July 21, 2009

Astarloza wins his first Tour stage

Mikel Astarloza earned his first career Tour de France stage victory Tuesday with a late kick that outdistanced the field of 162 cyclists.

Astarloza was among four riders who had led most of the 95.4-mile Stage 16 of the race from Martigny, Switzerland, to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France. Franco Pellizotti had paced that group much of the day.

But, as the race entered its final mile, Astarloza pulled away down the left side of the road and left the other leaders behind. He finished Stage 16 in 4 hours, 14 minutes, 20 seconds, winning by 6 seconds over five riders, including Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Amael Moinard who are with Astarloza in the lead group. Pellizotti was 11 seconds behind Astarloza.

Overall Tour de France leaders Albreto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins were among 18 riders who finished the stage 59 seconds after Astarloza. That leaves Contador 1:37 ahead of Armstrong and 1:46 up on Wiggins with five stages remaining.

The Tour's 17th stage Wednesday covers 101.7 miles from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand. The riders will be challenged by four Category 1 and one Category 2 climbs.