Editor’s note: Dan Wuori is one of the funniest Twitter bards in the cycling world (follow him at @dwuori). This month, he will be expanding a bit beyond 140 characters to share periodic journals during the Tour de France. Today’s is the 15th.
Angry words flew atop the Plateau de Beille as Frank and Andy Schleck accused their fellow GC contenders of refusing to let them win. The brothers – who launched a series of quickly neutralized attacks in the Pyrenees – lodged a formal complaint with race officials Saturday after a group of seven, non-Schleck riders accompanied them to the mountaintop finish.
“We tried several times to drop them, but the only one that was even a little bit interested was [Lampre’s] Damiano Cunego,” complained Frank.
“All of the other riders just kept on pedaling. It was very disrespectful.”
Despite producing numerous preview magazines and a YouTube clip in which Phil Liggett identifies the younger Schleck as “a definite favorite,” the brothers described race officials as “mostly unsympathetic” and “French.”
In related news, green jersey contenders Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) have approached race officials about Mark Cavendish – accusing the Manxman of holding onto cars in order to avoid elimination in the mountains. After a cursory investigation, race director Jean-Francois Pescheux dismissed the riders’ claims Sunday after receiving assurances that Cavendish was, in fact, pushing the cars uphill.
Sunday saw the prolific Cavendish take his fourth stage win of 2011 as the peloton covered 193 mostly flat kilometers from Limoux to Montpellier. In a move that served only to further infuriate his green jersey rivals, Cavendish crossed the line some four minutes ahead of the field while taking a bottle from his team car.
The GC standings remained unchanged, with Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler retaining the yellow leader’s jersey.
Race officials have called a second rest day for Monday, allowing the peloton to recover and Rabobank’s Laurens Ten Dam to secure a replacement nose.
Tuesday’s Stage 16 will cover 162.5 largely-forested kilometers from Saint-Paul-Trios-Chateaux (home to France’s largest hyphen factory) to Gap. Tailor made for the likes of Thomas Voeckler, expect the GC boys to keep him close and bide their time for Wednesday’s spin into the Alps.
Dan’s pick for stage 16: Look for world champion Thor Hushovd – no longer a threat to the GC favorites – to snag another stage victory in his strongest Tour to date.