Stage 15 was a mixed bag for the Garmin gang
Stage 15 of the 2008 Tour de France proved a mixed bag for the Garmin-Chipotle team. First, the good news: Danny Pate got into the day’s four-man breakaway, finishing third on the stage after a valiant ride fell just short in the final kilometer. And GC leader Christian Vande Velde stayed with the GC favorites on the category 1 climb up Plato Nevoso, crossing the line two seconds behind newly crowned race leader Frank Schleck (CSC).
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
By Neal Rogers
Stage 15 of the 2008 Tour de France proved a mixed bag for the Garmin-Chipotle team.
First, the good news: Danny Pate got into the day’s four-man breakaway, finishing third on the stage after a valiant ride fell just short in the final kilometer. And GC leader Christian Vande Velde stayed with the GC favorites on the category 1 climb up Plato Nevoso, crossing the line two seconds behind newly crowned race leader Frank Schleck (CSC).
Though he slipped to fifth overall and lost time to a quartet of contenders — 40 seconds to Bernard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) and Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank), 31 seconds to Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), and 20 seconds to Denis Menchov (Rabobank) — Vande Velde now sits just 39 seconds behind Schleck. And among the climbers who can time trial, he is just one second behind Menchov and 31 behind dethroned maillot jaune Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto).
And now, the bad news: Six of Garmin-Chipotle’s eight men crashed as the peloton parted a roundabout on slick roads with 60km remaining. Vande Velde, Ryder Hesjedal, Trent Lowe, Will Frischkorn, David Millar and Julian Dean all hit the ground, sustaining scrapes but no serious injuries. Only Pate, up the road in the breakaway, and Martin Maaskant finished without hitting the deck.
“It was half-wet, half dry, sprinkled-on pavement,” said Hesjedal, who suffered cuts on his left side. “Guys were all over the ground, just sliding. I was right with Dave, and once we got going again everyone was covered in black. My knee is a little sore, but it’s okay.”
Both Vande Velde and Frischkorn finished with black grease stains from other riders’ chains across their white jerseys.
“Today was a very hard day,” Vande Velde told VeloNews. “The weather was horrible, the terrain was hard and I also saw one of the worst crashes of my life [Oscar Periero’s crash on the descent off the hors catégorie Col Agnel]. I limited my losses well today and it gives me confidence going into the last week. Everyone raced to their limits today and the GC battle got even tighter. This race will certainly come down to the wire.”
Pate was philosophical about finishing third behind stage winner Simon Gerrans and Egoi Martinez. It was the third time in this Tour where a Garmin rider has finished either second or third on the day.
“I’m happy now, but just a few minutes ago I was so angry I couldn’t even talk,” Pate said. “I suffered all day but I felt good at the end. It was great, but disappointing at the same time.”
Manager Jonathan Vaughters told VeloNews it was a good but not great day for the team.
“Danny needed to drop Gerrans to win,” Vaughters said. “He gave it a shot, but no dice. The guys are okay. It wasn’t ideal to have the whole team crash, but they’re okay. Christian is treading water, as expected. It’s going to be a matter of not losing too much time, and then hoping he has the ride of his life in the time trial.”