23 Jul 2008

Final mountain stage crucial on Le Tour

1:00 pm on 23 July 2008

The Tour de France yellow jersey is set to be decided on the final alpine stage of the race tonight after a dramatic 16th stage, a 157-kilometre mountain ride from Cueno in Italy to to Jausiers in France.

The major change in the overall classification concerned the Russian threat Dennis Menchov who lost time on the final descent and is now one minute and 13 seconds down on the overall leader Frank Schleck of Luxembourg.

The French rider Cyril Dessel won the stage and CSC's race leader Schleck finished with his seven-second lead on the Austrian Bernhard Kohl intact, with the Australian Cadel Evans is still in third, only eight seconds behind the leader.

Menchov was one of the day's biggest losers. Only yesterday the New Zealand sprinter Julian Dean, who's dropped a place to 11th in the race for the green sprinter's jersey, was picking Menchov as the best-placed of the four top riders to win the Tour.

Menchov's now fifth.

The standings could change dramatically on tonight's stage, which features two unclassified climbs before the 14km final climb to the summit of Alpe d'Huez.