Team Saxo nearly Tour toast

In trailing the Tour de France team competition leaders by nearly 12 minutes Team Saxo Bank is hard-pressed to defend its title Bjarne Riis’ Team Saxo Bank is down to seven riders after Jens Voigt’s ugly spill during Stage 16...

Bjarne Riis’ Team Saxo Bank is down to seven riders after Jens Voigt’s ugly spill during Stage 16 of the Tour de France, and the chances for the team to repeat as Tour champs is now a longshot at best.

Voigt suffered a concussion, a broken cheekbone and several deep bruises after a fall on the stage’s final descent from Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

After the stage, Team Saxo sat in fifth place in the team standings, 11 minutes and 43 seconds behind board leaders Astana. And with overall Tour leader Alberto Contador, second-place Lance Armstrong and fourth-place Andreas Klöden leading the Astana team, Riis’s squad is facing a nearly impossible task to repeat as the Tour’s team champions.

But the former Tour winner’s troupe isn’t giving up the fight yet, according to Team Saxo sports director Kim Andersen.

The Tour’s 18th stage is a myriad of peaks and valleys where Andersen said Riis’s squad can pick up a lot of time.

‘We’ve seen that in the really tough situations the Schleck brothers have shone,’ he said, referring to the team’s German siblings Andy and Frank Schleck.

There are five stages remaining in the Tour de France, which ends Sunday in Paris.

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