Astarloza wins 16th Tour stage
Alberto Contador retains overall lead
Spain's Mikel Astarloza claimed the 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, with Alberto Contador retaining the overall lead and Lance Armstrong clinging to second place.
Astarloza, who competes for the Euskadi Euskaltel team, threw his fists in the air and kissed his fingers when he won. The course finished on a downhill run, which can make it difficult for a leading rider to maintain his or her spot.
"I was lucky to leave alone and finish alone," Astarloza said. "I'm a complete rider but I'm not good at the sprint, so I have to attack from far away. I am super happy."
The 159-kilometre ride, which took riders from the Swiss town of Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, saw Contador and Armstrong finish in the main pack behind Astarloza and other breakaway riders.
Armstrong, 37, managed to hang on to his No. 2 position overall.
This came after having to catch up with Contador after a handful of opponents, including Andy Schleck of Luxembourg and Britain's Bradley Wiggins, burst ahead in the second of two long climbs, which featured a downhill finish. Armstrong had dropped back by roughly 35 seconds.
Armstrong is behind 2007 champion Contador by one minute, 37 seconds. Wiggins is in third place, 1:46 back.
The last moments of Tuesday's race were intense, as Germany's Jens Voigt crashed and was taken to hospital by ambulance. It's unclear exactly what caused his crash but a bicycle malfunction or bump in the road are possibilities.
Wednesday's Tour stage involves one of the most challenging courses of the event — a 169-kilometre ride from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand. It includes five steep climbs capped off with another downhill run.
The Tour, which lasts three weeks, ends Sunday in Paris.
With files from the Associated Press