July 21, 2003
Joseba Beloki, tragic victim of a crash on stage 9 which ended his most promising Tour de France bid yet, has been released from a Basque clinic five days after undergoing surgery for his fractured elbow, hip, and wrist. Beloki left the Esperanza de Vitoria clinic in the Basque region of Spain, but will continue to undergo physical therapy in the coming weeks. Team director Manolo Saiz commented during Monday's 15th stage that it will be at least a month to six weeks before Beloki climbs back on the bike.
All it's missing is the big banner that says "Eat Me"...
OLN-TV daily reports updated
- Phil Liggett:
Has Lance Armstrong done enough to win the Tour? I would not bet on it just yet.
Lance's camp is jubilant, and judging by his expressions on the podium, he might feel he has. On the other hand, Jan Ullrich said he had expected to lose two minutes and he is happy with the way things are. So what do you think?
- Paul Sherwen:
Then I remembered what my friend Graham Jones (20th place finisher in the Tour in the 1980's working here for BBC radio) said to me in Gap, "jamais deux sans trois." Basically meaning bad luck always happens in threes!
Meaux, Gap, Luz Ardiden. Stage 1 pile up involving Lance, riding across a meadow to avoid Beloki's crash and finally catching a spectator’s promotional bag. The series should now be closed and Armstrong should win the Tour for the fifth time but Paris is still a long way off. I hope he does win because today he showed the true mettle of a champion. As did Jan Ullrich and the rest when they didn't take advantage of the Texan's misfortune.
What a great race. What a great sport. There are still gentlemen in this world.
- Bob Roll:
Cycling provides us with our most powerful allegories, because when Lance fell on the ground, that was the bolt of lightening that illuminated what’s at the heart of the struggle -- when we crash, we follow that with our most powerful effort. What Lance did today will be remembered forever … as long as he goes on to win the Tour … and Lance Armstrong is not likely to let that opportunity slip away. This has been Lance’s most difficult Tour, and if he wins, he will look back, and cherish this one more than any other.
- Chris Carmichael:
If there is anything positive to say about a fan causing a crash in the Tour de France, it may have been the jolt that finally stirred Armstrong back to life. By the time he got back on his bike, his demeanor and body language had completely changed. Here was a Tour de France champion where only a few minutes earlier a mere race leader had ridden.
[T]he excitement started when Ullrich unexpectedly attacked on Col de Tourmalet. He created a gap, and it looked liked the moment of truth had come from Lance, but at the summit, they were back in one group again.
"I didn't respond to his attack immediately, because I felt it was not the best time and place to do that. We had a long and hard descent ahead of us, and then there was still Luz Ardiden. I thought it would be better to establish a rhythm, and let him get five or ten seconds, and then keep him there like if we were doing two separate time trials or something. I actually got very close to him, but he just kept powering up that mountain, and I thought. 'Well, if you are gonna keep riding like that, you can go ahead and win this race, because I just cannot do that.' But obviously, it was a bit too early to ride like that."
Yahoo! Sport has a wire service photo gallery that currently goes back through Stage 6.
With a last mountain stage between Pau and Bayonne on Wednesday after the rest day, Vinokourov said he would try again.
"I'm not desperate and I will try to keep attacking like I've done since the start," he said.
But the Telekom leader, silver-medalist behind Ullrich in the road race at the Sydney Olympics, confessed that the Tour now looks like a race between his former teammate and four-time champion Armstrong.
"I wish good luck to Jan, who is a very close friend of mine," he said.
"He's very strong right now and probably at his very best ever. As for Armstrong, he's not too far from his best either now."
From the Daily Peloton Stage 15 live report:
This is what Henri Desgrange wanted - suffering and victory no matter what cost. I don't think I've seen anything so exciting in my life - and I'm damned if I'll see something that thrilling again... I think Johan Bruyneel must have had about 60 heart attacks today.
Last year, George Hincapie said the best moment of his tour was the day Lance rode away to take the yellow jersey; he was riding in the gruppetto with Ekimov listening to it on their radios... can you imagine the emotion of the Postal team today after this epic struggle? They must be smiling all the way up that last, miserable climb! They have done their job so well, and now Lance has had the legs to make it happen.
Reuters has Ullrich's reaction to Stage 15:
"In the past, when Armstrong did his thing in the mountains, I would lose two minutes. I only lost one minute this time. So that's not too negative," the 1997 Tour winner said.
Ullrich, who had upset the four-times Tour champion in a time trial last week, finished third in the stage, 40 seconds behind the American and trails him by 1:07 overall.
"I'm a little disappointed not to have taken second place because it would have given me some time bonus," said Ullrich, who was outsprinted by Spaniard Iban Mayo for second place.
"But I could not go any faster. I knew Lance would attack today but I could not follow him when he did.
"I just climbed at my own pace, trying to limit the damage. I'm not an explosive climber like he is. I need a steady pace," he added.
The Samuel Abt story is up at NYTimes.com:
His face set in a grimace of determination, the Texan rode as he did in the mountains in his four Tour victories and as he had not done previously in this race — with facility, power and suppleness.
"I wasn't angry when I attacked," he said, "I was desperate to gain time on Ullrich before the time trial."
As he spoke, his body language was totally changed from the last few days, when he looked weary and disappointed. Now he was the old Armstrong, in command and confident.
But, he continued: "This has been a crisis-filled Tour. There have been a lot of strange things happening, things I haven't talked about.
"This is a Tour of too many problems — close calls, near misses. I wish it would stop. I wish I could have some uneventful days."
The American landed heavily on his left side, hurting his hip and elbow. He bravely got up to produce a spectacular finish to the stage, but he admitted he was worried about his injuries.
"I'm going to have to nurse my injuries from the crash," he said. "My hip is all locked up and I can barely walk so I'm going to have to put ice on it."
As Armstrong got into his team car, a mechanic showed him that his bike was also in a bad way with the chain stay, which runs between the central cranks and the rear gear mechanism, broken.
Among today's casualties were American Fred Rodriguez of Vini Caldirola, Leonardo Bertagnolli, an Italian with the Saeco team (both abandoned), and Belgian Axel Merckx, son of the 5-time winner, who finished outside the time limit. Marco Milesi of Vini Caldirola didn't start.
151 riders are still in the race.
Pierrick Fedrigo, a 24-year-old Frenchman who rides with the Credit Agricole team, was holding his head in his hands and trying to hide from the roadside spectators when he was collected by the dreaded broom wagon on Sunday.
"When you start your first Tour, that's the only thing you really worry about," said Fedrigo referring to a symbol of failure in the eyes of riders -- and some unforgiving spectators.
"When I got inside it was worse than I had imagined. I could see people looking in through the windows and all I wanted to do was hide," added Fedrigo who said the guilt made him want to get back on his bike purely for the fans.
"At one point I even began thinking that I should have tried harder, just for them. But riding the Tour is just so hard."
The Christian Science Monitor has a nice Tour overview:
"The script is a surefire success ... that plays from generation to generation," wrote sportswriter Jean-Michel Thenard in the daily Libération. "A panoramic school of life against the picture postcard setting of summer in France. Hollywood might envy it."
Compare and contrast with ESPN's column Tour de Lance: Who cares.
Tuesday is a rest day, while Wednesday is the last day in the Pyrénées before the race heads on to flatter ground. However Armstrong, for one, doesn't want to wait until the penultimate day's time trial before having to secure his lead - especially as Ullrich took over one and a half minutes off the American over 47km only a few days ago. "This morning I told myself that it was going to be a crucial day for me if I wanted to hang on and win this race," added Armstrong. "I don't want to wait until the final time trial (on July 26) before securing the lead. But the Tour is far from finished. I've always said the race doesn't finish until we arrive on the Champs Elysees."
“After the fall, I had a big, big rush of adrenaline,” Armstrong said after the race. He then told himself, “Lance if you want to win the Tour de France, do it today.”
Where just days ago Armstrong had appeared haggard and drained, on Monday he looked like the four-time champion of old. His win left Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner, 1 minute and 7 seconds back overall. Ullrich, grimacing as he neared the finish line, had started the day just 15 seconds behind.
Sylvain Chavanel of Brioches la Boulangere looked on course to take the stage but was caught by Armstrong with four kilometres left.
The Frenchman had made an early break with Team Telekom's Santiago Botero, and dropped the Colombian on the Col du Tourmalet.
But all the drama went on in the chasing group as Armstrong and Ullrich battled for control of the race.
After the initial crash, Armstrong almost went down again moments later when his foot slipped off the pedal as he tried desperately to recover the gap to Ullrich.
The German himself appeared to be struggling with the climb, however, and Armstrong not only reeled him in but went flying past to finish 40 seconds clear of his closest rival.
Vinokourov was 2:07 back.
Lance Armstrong recovered from a fall on the final climb of the 15th stage of the Tour de France on Monday to seize back control of the race.
The American, bidding for his fifth successive Tour victory, appeared to clip a spectator as he duelled with German rival Jan Ullrich.
He quickly got back on his bike as the peloton waited for him, as tradition demands. But shortly afterwards his foot slipped out of his pedal, almost bringing him down again.
Many believed the Texan was no longer the force of old, but his reaction to his fall proved his courage is without question.
Armstrong, who held a 15-second advantage over Ullrich before the stage, attacked immediately after his mishaps, leaving the German trailing as he headed for the finish at Luz-Ardiden.
Stage 15: Armstrong wins, and gains on Ullrich
If this is the most incredible Tour of recent memory, today's stage is one of the most incredible stages. Every eye was on two riders: Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich.
Ullrich decided not to wait for the final climb to make a move, and rode away from the peloton on the Col du Tourmalet. Armstrong countered, and the two rode together. On the descent from the Tourmalet, most of the leaders regrouped.
Then near the foot of Luz Ardiden, Armstrong hooked a bag with his handlebars, and fell to the pavement. His teammate Jose Luis Rubiera paced Armstrong back to the leaders' group, which soft-pedaled rather than take advantage of Armstrong's misfortune.
Armstrong regrouped and rode away from everybody. Sylvain Chavanel had led the race almost all day, but Armstrong quickly closed the gap, and won the stage (and a 20 second time bonus). Ullrich fought to the line, keeping the gap down to 41 seconds, but Euskaltel's Iban Mayo nipped Jan Ullrich at the line, relegating Ullrich to the 3rd place time bonus.
It was the 16th stage win of Armstrong's career.
Ullrich will start Wednesday's stage trailing Armstrong by 1:07.
1) Armstrong (USPS) 2) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ :41 3) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) same time 4) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) s.t. 5) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) s.t. 6) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ :47 7) Tyler Freaking Hamilton (Team CSC) @ 1:10 8) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) @ 2:07 9) Jose Luis Rubiera (USPS) @ 2:45 10) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere) @ 2:47
1) Armstrong (USPS) 65:36:23 2) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) @ 1:07 3) Alexandre Vinokourov @ 2:45 4) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 5:16 5) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ 5:25 6) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 8:08 7) Tyler Hamilton (Team CSC) @ 9:02 8) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) @ 11:09 9) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com) @ 16:05 10) Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) @ 16:12
Race leader Lance Armstrong has crashed on the final climb of stage 15 of the Tour de France.
The American, bidding for his fifth successive Tour victory, appeared to collide with a spectator as he duelled with rival Jan Ullrich. He quickly got back on his bike as the peloton waited for him, as tradition demands.
Armstrong taken down, but rides away...
Lance Armstrong showed he's still as fast as anybody in the race today, after being inadvertently hooked by a spectator on the climb to Luz Ardiden.
USPS rider José Luis (Chechu) Rubiera paced Armstrong back to the select group, then Armstrong just rode away from Ullrich, Mayo, Zubeldia, Hamiltong, and everybody else.
Congrats to Neil Chapman who was clearly playing along with our home game, when he posted in a comment here on the site:
Its alarming to watch spectators all but shaking hands with the cyclists. The obvious question would be: what if say a rider conspires with a friend to step out and knock Lance Armstrong off has bike, not in an obvious way but "accidently effective" enough to knock Lance out of the stage or maybe even the competition? Would the referees equalize the issue or would it be just tough luck for Armstrong?
Tour headline : A Minute's Silence At The Start
12 H 21 - A Minutes Silence At The Start
The riders are currently observing a minutes silence in memory of Lauri Aus. The Estonian who rode for the AG2R-Preyovance team died yesterday after being involved in an accident while training in Estonia. Lauri raced the Tour de France in 1997 and 2000.
From the official Tour website.
Tour Today : Bagneres-de-Bigorre - Luz-Ardiden
Three big climbs, the 1st Category Col d'Aspin, and two Hors Categorie climbs, the Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden.
Lance Armstrong Baden Cooke Richard Virenque Denis Menchov
Team CSC leads the team classification over iBanesto by about 9 minutes.
Laurent Dufaux will be wearing the red race number of the most aggressive rider.
Patrick O'Grady, cartoonist and columnist for VeloNews, has a column up, lamenting his decision to drop satellite TV before what's become the best Tour of recent memory:
Just 18 seconds separate Armstrong, Ullrich and Vinokourov as the Tour goes into goat country once again on Monday: The Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, with 10,000 feet of up in 43km of climbing over the last 78 klicks. I wouldn't tackle that action in my good truck with a satellite phone and the AAA all paid up.
But these guys will. And if Vino' keeps acting all froggy, well, Lance might just have to do a little hopping his own bad self. Vino's last, best chance comes Monday. But Ullrich, having beat both men like dusty rugs in that first TT, might just be willing to sit up and wave bye-bye as his former Telekom teammate scampers on up that long and lonely road, betting the jersey that he can do it again come the stage-19 race of truth, when it will be time to raise, fold or call.
Me, I'm calling - calling a friend and teammate who's got cable, that is. I bet a full rack of Starbucks java and a sack of Krispy Kremes that I'm watching Le Tour on something besides a PowerBook tomorrow morning.
Gilberto Simoni's rider's diary at Bicycling magazine has been updated since his victory yesterday:
One day of glory can't change my Tour de France, but it was an amazing experience for me. To hear once again people call my name along the way, to encourage me. They waited for me during my bad times, and they comprehend my results. I won Giro d'Italia, my first task. Again, I tried to be on the top in Tour de France too. It was impossible, this year at least. I'll try again in the future. If I look around me, I don't see any of my challengers from the Giro d'Italia. I mean, it's not so easy to be at your top for such a long period. I'm sure the same would be true for Armstrong, Ullrich and so on, if they tried to face the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same season--even once in their life.