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2002 Tour de France

89th edition: July 6 - July 28, 2002

Results, stages with running GC, team listing, commentary and map

2001 Tour | 2003 Tour | Tour de France Database | 2002 Tour Quick Facts | 2002 Tour de France Final GC | Stage results with running GC | Race route details | Teams entered

Prologue|Stage 1|Stage 2|Stage 3|Stage 4|Stage 5|Stage 6|Stage 7|Stage 8| Stage 9|Rest Day 1|Stage 10|Stage 11|Stage 12|Stage 13|Stage 14|Rest Day 2|Stage 15|Stage 16|Stage 17|Stage 18|Stage 19|Stage 20|

Map of the 2002 Tour de France

Map of the 2002 Tour de France

Tour de France: the Inside Story

Les Woodland's book Tour de France: The Inside Story - Making the World Greatest Bicycle Race is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the amazon link on the right.

2002 Tour Quick Facts:

3,277.5 km raced at an average speed of 39.88 km/hr

189 starters and 153 classified finishers.

With Jan Ullrich not entered, the 2002 Tour was a romp for Lance Armstrong, who easily won his fourth Tour de France.

Armstrong's US Postal team was every bit as dominating as Armstrong himself, although Joseba Beloki's ONCE squad won the stage four team time trial.

Santiago Botero surprised everyone when he beat Armstrong by 11 seconds in the stage nine individual time trial.

In 2012 Armstrong was stripped of all of his Tour titles when his doping was revealed.

2002 Tour de France Complete Final General Classification:

  1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 82hr 5min 12sec
  2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 7min 17sec
  3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 8min 17sec
  4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 13min 10sec
  5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 13min 54sec
  6. José Azevedo (ONCE) @ 15min 44sec
  7. Francisco Macebo (ibanesto) @ 16min 5sec
  8. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 17min 11sec
  9. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 17min 12sec
  10. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 19min 5sec
  11. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 19min 18sec
  12. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 20min 33sec
  13. David Moncoutié (Cofidis) @ 21min 8sec
  14. Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis) @ 27min 51sec
  15. Tyler Hamilton (CSC) @ 28min 36sec
  16. Richard Virenque (Domo-Fram Frites) @ 28min 42sec
  17. Stephane Goubert (Jean Delatour) @ 29min 51sec
  18. Unai Osa (ibanesto) @ 30min 17sec
  19. Nicolas Vogondy (FDJ) @ 32min 44sec
  20. Nicki Sørensen (CSC) @ 32min 56sec
  21. Andrei Kivilev (Cofidis) @ 33min 41sec
  22. José Luis Rubiera (US Postal) @ 36min 43sec
  23. Ivan Gotti (Alessio) @ 40min 16sec
  24. Dariusz Baranowski (ibanesto) @ 43min 4sec
  25. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) @ 43min 15sec
  26. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) @ 44min 2sec
  27. Beat Zberg (Rabobank) @ 44min 29sec
  28. Axel Merckx (Domo-Farm Frites) @ 45min 39sec
  29. José Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme) @ 50min 52sec
  30. Alexandre Botcharov (Ag2r) @ 51min 52sec
  31. Jörg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 56min 5sec
  32. Jean-Cyril Robin (FDJ) @ 57min 35sec
  33. Marcos Antonio Serrano (ONCE) @ 1hr 0min 52sec
  34. Laurent Lefèvre (Jean Delatour) @ 1hr 7min 0sec
  35. Christophe Brandt (Lotto) @ 1hr 7min 0sec
  36. Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour) @ 1hr 9min 26sec
  37. Bobby Julich (Telekom) @ 1hr 13min 11sec
  38. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 1hr 13min 27sec
  39. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 1hr 15min 39sec
  40. Volodomyr Gustov (Fassa Bortolo) @ 1hr 17min 39sec
  41. Iñigo Chaurreau (Ag2r) @ 1hr 17min 37sec
  42. Laurent Jalabert (CSC) @ 1hr 17min 48sec
  43. Piotr Wadecki (Domo-Farm Frites) @ 1hr 18min 12sec
  44. Miguel Martinez (Mapei) @ 1hr 18min 42sec
  45. Wladimir Belli (Fassa Bortolo) @ 1hr 19min 41sec
  46. Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) @ 1hr 20min 8sec
  47. Marzio Bruseghin (ibanesto) @ 1hr 26min 57sec
  48. Udo Bölts (Telekom) @ 1hr 29min 32sec
  49. Iñigo Cuesta (Cofidis) @ 1hr 29min 59sec
  50. Mario Aerts (Lotto) @ 1hr 31min 17sec
  51. Grischa Niermann (Rabobank) @ 1he 33min 3sec
  52. Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) @ 1hr 35min 38sec
  53. Andrea peron (CSC) @ 1hr 39min 42sec
  54. Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo) @ 1hr 39min 46sec
  55. Cédric Vasseur (Cofidis) @ 1hr 40min 52sec
  56. Kevin Livingston (Telekom) @ 1hr 44min 51sec
  57. Santiago Blanco (ibanesto) @ 1hr 45min 51sec
  58. Viatcheslav Ekimov (US Postal) @ 1hr 45min 51sec
  59. George Hincapie (US Postal) @ 1hr 47min 35sec
  60. David Etxebarria (Euskaltel) @ 1hr 48min 19sec
  61. Floyd Landis (US Postal) @ 1hr 48min 31sec
  62. Laszlo Bodrogi (Mapei) @ 1hr 50min 5sec
  63. Gerhard Trampusch (Mapei) @ 1hr 51min 30sec
  64. Serhiy Gonchar (Fassa Bortolo) @ 1hr 52min 59sec
  65. Tomas Konečný (Domo-Farm-Frites) @ 1hr 53min 26sec
  66. Christian Moreni (Alessio) @ 1hr 54min 17sec
  67. Frédéric Bessy (Credit Agricole) @ 1hr 58min 58sec
  68. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 1hr 59min 51sec
  69. Pavel Padrnos (US Postal) @ 2hr 3min 10sec
  70. Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi Sport) @ 2hr 3min 46sec
  71. Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r) @ 2hr 4min 50sec
  72. Rolf Aldag (Telekom) @ 2hr 4min 50sec
  73. Victor Hugo Peña (US Postal) @ 2hr 5min 24sec
  74. Marco Serpellini (Lampre) @ 2hr 5min 55sec
  75. Gianluca Bortolami (Tacconi Sport) @ 2hr 6min 57sec
  76. Mikel Predera (ONCE) @ 2hr 7min 0sec
  77. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) @ 2hr 7min 2sec
  78. Abraham Olano (ONCE) @ 2hr 8min 25sec
  79. Bingen Fernandez (Cofidis) @ 2hr 8min 29sec
  80. Giuseppe Guerini (Telekom) @ 2hr 9min 26sec
  81. Serguei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) @ 2hr 10min 7sec
  82. Erik Zabel (Telekom) @ 2hr 10min 33sec
  83. Sandy Casar (FDJ) @ 2hr 12min 22sec
  84. David Latasa (ibanesto) @ 2hr 13min 1sec
  85. Franck Renier (Bonjour) @ 2hr 15min 8sec
  86. Christophe Mengin (FDJ) @ 2hr 16min 47sec
  87. Jérôme Pineau (Bonjour) @ 2hr 18min 24sec
  88. Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ 2hr 18min 27sec
  89. Benoît Joachim (US Postal) @ 2hr 19min 27sec
  90. Anthony Morin (Credit Agricole) @ 2hr 19min 55sec
  91. Marc Wauters (Rabobank) @ 2hr 20min 30sec
  92. Guennadi Mikhailov (Lotto) @ 2hr 20min 39sec
  93. Denis Menchov (ibanesto) @ 2hr 21min 31sec
  94. Addy Engels (Rabobank) @ 2hr 21min 37sec
  95. Javier Pascual (ibanesto) @ 2hr 22min 11sec
  96. Emmanuel Magnien (Bonjour) @ 2hr 22min 39sec
  97. Robert Hunter (Mapei) @ 2hr 25min 32sec
  98. Thierry Loder (Ag2r) @ 2hr 25min 35sec
  99. Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) @ 2hr 30min 21sec
  100. Christophe Edaleine (Jean Delatour) @ 2hr 31min 3sec
  101. Gian-Matteo Fagnini (Telekom) @ 2hr 32min 0sec
  102. Jérôme Bernard (Jean Delatour) @ 2hr 32min 19sec
  103. Andy Flickinger (Ag2r) @ 2hr 33min 13sec
  104. Danilo Hondo (Telekom) @ 2hr 34min 21sec
  105. Serge Baguet (Lotto) @ 2hr 34min 24sec
  106. Andrea Tafi (Mapei) @ 2hr 34min 34sec
  107. Pedro Horillo (Mapei) @ 2hr 35min 32sec
  108. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) @ 2hr 38min 44sec
  109. Bradley Mcgee (FDJ) @ 2hr 39min 2sec
  110. Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole) @ 2hr 39min 35sec
  111. Francisco Cabello (Kelme) @ 2hr 40min 13sec
  112. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 2hr 40min 43sec
  113. Cyril Dessel (Jean Delatour) @ 2hr 41min 24sec
  114. Franck Bouyer (Bonjour) @ 2hr 41min 42sec
  115. Stéphane Augé (Jean Delatour) @ 2hr 43min 14sec
  116. Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) @ 2hr 44min 30sec
  117. Walter Bénéteau (Bonjour) @ 2hr 45min 15sec
  118. Raivis Belohvoščiks (Lampre) @ 2hr 46min 30sec   
  119. Andrea Brognara (Alessio) @ 2hr 47min 10sec
  120. Paul Van Hyfte (CSC) @ 2hr 49min 20sec
  121. Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) @ 2hr 49min 22sec
  122. José Vicente Garcia (ibanesto) @ 2hr 52min 44sec
  123. Nico Mattan (Cofidis) @ 2hr 55min 10sec
  124. Enrico Cassani (Domo-Farm Frites) @ 2hr 55min 24sec
  125. Jakob Piil (CSC) @ 2hr 55min 32sec
  126. Thierry Marichal (Lotto) @ 3hr 0min 1sec
  127. Baden Cooke (FDJ) @ 3hr 0min 22sec
  128. Martin Hvastija (Alessio) @ 3hr 0min 38sec
  129. Leon Van Bon (Domo-Farm Frites) @ 3hr 2min 46sec
  130. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) @ 3hr 3min 30sec
  131. Ján Svorada (Lampre) @ 3hr 3min 30sec
  132. Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo) @ 3hr 4min 7sec
  133. Bram De Groot (Rabobank) @ 3hr 4min 44sec
  134. José Angel Vidal (Kelme) @ 3hr 6min 37sec
  135. Mauro Radaelli (Tacconi Sport) @ 3hr 6min 43sec
  136. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) @ 3hr 7min 56sec
  137. Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites) @ 3hr 9min 57sec
  138. Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre) @ 3hr 10min 10sec
  139. Massimo Apollonio (Tacconi Sport) @ 3hr 10min 11sec
  140. Alessandro Cortinovis (Lampre) @ 3hr 11min 10sec
  141. Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) @ 3hr 11min 18ssec
  142. Gorka Arrizabalaga (Euskaltel) @ 3hr 12min 45sec
  143. Eddy Seigneur (Jean Delatour) @ 3hr 12min 49sec
  144. Christophe Agnolutto (Ag2r) @ 3hr 13min 15sec
  145. Hans De Clercq (Lotto) @ 3hr 14min 14sec
  146. Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) @ @ 3hr 14min 51sec
  147. Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) @ 2hr 15min 10sec
  148. Anthony Langella (Credit Agricole) @ 3hr 16min 54sec
  149. Davide Casarotto (Alessio) @ 3hr 16min 56sec
  150. Stéphane Bergès (Ag2r) @ 3hr 20min 44sec
  151. Damien Nazon (Bonjour) @ 3hr 22min 25sec
  152. Arvis Piziks (CSC) @ 3hr 34min 57sec
  153. Igor Flores (Euskaltel) @ 3hr 35min 52sec

Climbers' Competition:

  1. Laurent Jalabert (CSC): 262 points
  2. Mario Aerts (Lotto-Adecco): 178
  3. Santiago Botero (Kelme): 162
  4. Lance Armstrong (US postal): 159
  5. Axel Merckx (Domo-Farm Frites): 121
  6. Joseba Beloki (ONCE): 115
  7. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank): 113
  8. Richard Virenque (Domo-Farm Frites): 107
  9. Carlos Sastre (CSC): 97
  10. Raimondas Runsas (Lampre): 96

Points Competition:

  1. Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Adecco): 280 points
  2. Erik Zabel (Telekom): 261
  3. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole): 208
  4. Baden Cooke (FDJ): 198
  5. Jan Svorada (Lampre): 154
  6. Lance Armstrong (US Postal): 119
  7. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole): 103
  8. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour): 99
  9. Raimondas Runsas (Lampre): 92
  10. Satiago Botero (Kelme): 87

Young Rider:

  1. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) 82hr 24min 30sec
  2. Nicolas Vogondy (FDJ) @ 13min 26sec
  3. Christophe Brandt (Lotto) @ 48min 32sec
  4. Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour) @ 50min 8sec
  5. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 54min 9sec
  6. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 56min 21sec
  7. Volodomir Gustov (Fassa Bortolo) @ 58min 8sec
  8. Gerhard Trampusch (Mapei) @ 1hr 32min 12sec
  9. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 1hr 40min 33sec
  10. Sandy Casar (FDJ) @ 1hr 53min 4sec

Team Classification:

  1. ONCE: 246hr 36min 14sec
  2. US postal @ 22min 49sec
  3. CSC @ 30min 17sec
  4. ibanesto @ 34min 6sec
  5. Cofidis @ 36min 19sec
  6. Rabobank @ 40min 41sec
  7. Jean Delatour @ 1hr 17min 21sec
  8. Kelme @ 1hr 42min 22sec
  9. Domo-Farm Frites @ 1hr 46min 20sec
  10. Fassa Bortolo @ 2hr 1min 59sec

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Stage Results with running GC:

Saturday, July 6: Prologue 7.6 km Luxembourg individual time trial

This is a tricky and winding course with many turns, cobbles, bridges and narrow streets. At km 5.3, there is a category 4 rated climb. The first of 189 riders (Stephene Auge of Jean Delatour) will depart at 4:00 PM local time (7:00 AM Pacific), with the rest following at one minute intervals. Armstrong should depart at 7:08 (10:08 AM Pacific). It should take about 9 minutes to cover the course.

Weather in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg at 1:12 PM local time: 57F (14C), 87% humidity, partly sunny, wind is from the SSW at 6 MPH (10 KPH). Rain starting in the early afternoon, but it stopped while the first riders were on the course. The later riders had dry streets.


Lance Armstrong

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 9min 8sec
2. Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) @ 2sec
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 3sec
4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 4sec
5. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 5sec
6. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) @ 6sec
7. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) @ 8sec
8. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 9sec
9. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 13sec
10. Laszlo Bodrogi (Mapei) @ 13sec
16. Tyler Hamilton (CSC Tiscali) @ 16sec
18. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 16sec
23. Richard Virenque (Domo) @ 18sec.

Sunday, July 7: Stage 1, Luxembourg - Luxembourg, 192.5 km.

This relentless grinder might see a breakaway. It is a giant, clockwise tour of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, starting at about the 7:00 point on the loop. There are 4 rated climbs and a little sting in the tail at the end before finishing on the same street in Luxembourg as Saturday's prologue ITT. Will Armstrong and the Posties defend the Yellow Jersey this early in the race? Will the Postal team work to keep things together and chase down breaks or will they play chicken with the sprinter's teams like last year, allowing breaks to get away?

Rated climbs:
Km 69.5: Côte de Hoscheid, 4.2 km climb at an average of 5.9%, 3rd Cat.
Km 87.0: Côte de Vianden, 2.7 km climb at an average of 5.7%, 4th Cat.
Km 148.5: Côte de Wormeldange, 0.8 km climb at an average of 9.5%, 3rd Cat.
Km 182.0: Côte de Hostert, 1.8 km climb at an average of 6.9%, 4th Cat.

The Race: What an absolutely fantastic race! Breakaways pounded off the front, one after another. A 3-man break of Diercksens (Lampre), Berges (AG2R) and Mengin (FDJ) got a maximum lead of 4min 10sec, but were chased down by a CSC-led peloton looking to put Jalabert in Yellow. Armstrong and the Posties stayed very, very vigilant at the front. Armstrong, keeping an eye on his playmates on a climb, got in a short lived break with 8 other riders that included Kivilev, Boogerd and Botero after the trio was caught. That set off loud alarms in the pack and they were sucked up.

The attacks kept coming over the undulating countryside. But, for the final tough climb up to the city of Luxembourg it was all together with the Telekoms setting the tempo for a birthday win for Zabel. As they were climbing, shooting out of the middle of the pack, to the right, giving it everything a human can give, Rubens Bertogliati blasted off and away. There was no immediate response as the courageous Swiss rider crossed the line with just enough time to give a hands-off-the-bars salute. The pack was right on him, so they all got the same time. The 20 second win-bonus gives Bertogliati a fragile hold on the Yellow Jersey. For sure, tomorrow will be another hammer-dog session as the high-level of agressive racing that characterized this year's Giro continues in a fabulous start to the Tour.

Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole), who was recovering from an earlier crash, hit the deck more than once and finished 139th, 3min 20sec down. A bad start for one of France's top GC hopes.

Results for Stage 1:

1. Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre) 4hr 49min 18sec
2. Erik Zabel (Telekom) s.t.
3. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) s.t.
4. Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo) s.t.
5. Oscar Freire (Mapei) s.t.
6. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) s.t.
7. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) s.t.
8. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) s.t.
9. José Gutierrez (Kelme) s.t.
10. François Simon (Bonjour) s.t.

GC After Stage 1:

1. Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre) 4hr 58min 21sec
2. Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali) @ 3sec
3. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 3sec
4. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 6sec
5. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 7sec
6. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 8sec
7. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) @ 9sec
8. Erik Zabel (Telekom) @ 10sec
9. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) @ 11sec
10. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 12sec
11. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 16sec
16. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 19sec
18. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) s.t.

Green Jersey (Sprinter): Erik Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Jersey (Climber): Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Jersey (Young rider): Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre)
Team: CSC-Tiscali

route, stage 1

Monday, July 8: Stage 2, Luxembourg - Saarbrücken, Germany, 181 km.

I think this will be more of the same; rolling countryside with 2 category 4 rated climbs. The race heads south from Luxembourg. Then at km 17, they head east along the French border. Crossing into Germany just about at the Côte de Perl climb they continue heading east until St. Wendel at km 137. They then head south for Saarbrücken. With so many riders within the stage winner's bonus of getting in yellow, the aggression level should be high. Zabel's Telekoms will probably try to contain things. Sounds like a really big job.

Rated climbs:
Km 60.0: Côte de Perl, 4.8 km climb @ 4.8%, 4th Category
Km 132.5: Côte d'Alsweiler-Heid, 1.4 km climb @ 6.4% - 4th Category

The Race: It was a hot day, 27C-30C (80's+ F) with huge crowds lining the streets when the race crossed into Germany. The aggresive moves started early. At about km 11, a break formed with Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Stephane Berges(Ag2R) and stuck for most of the race. The chase was lead in an unhurried manner by the Yellow Jersey's team, Lampre. Hushovd cramped up, came off the break leaving the French duo alone off the front. It turned out the Credit Agricole rider had very, very bad cramps. Perhaps this was a holdover from his efforts to continually pace team leader Chrisophe Moreau back to the field yesterday. At one point, after being dropped by the chasing pack, Hushovd got a short massage to try to work out the cramps before soldiering on to try to beat the time limit.

With 30 km to go Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole) took off, caught and dropped Berges and Chavanel and stayed away until about 10 Km to go. At 25 km to go, the sprinter's teams started to take the race a bit more seriously, with the pink Telekoms going to the front, looking for a happy unbirthday present for Zabel.

But, just as Voigt was caught, another Credit Agricole rider, Hinault, took off.

At about 5 km to go, all the sprinter's teams went to the front and really jammed up the speed, sweeping up Hinault.

For the sprint, the Telekoms got their train well set up, but when the current world champion Oscar Freire is healthy and on-form, he the is best. He came by McEwen and Zabel for the win. Rubens Bertogliati of Lampre, who tried to mix it up in the sprint to defend his jersey, stays in yellow for another day.

Results for stage 2:

1. Oscar Freire (Mapei) 4hr 19min 51 sec
2. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) s.t.
3. Erik Zabel (Telekom) s.t.
4. Baden Cooke (FDJ) s.t.
5. Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2R) s.t.
6. Andreij Hauptmann (Tacconi) s.t.
7. Pedro Horillo (Mapei)s.t.
8. Fred Rodriguez (Domo)s.t.
9. Gian Fagnini (Telekom)
10. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

1. Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre) 9hr 18min 12sec
2. Erik Zabel (Telekom) @ 2sec
3. Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali) @ 3sec
4. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 3sec
5. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 6sec
6. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 7sec
7. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 8sec
9. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) @ 9sec
9. Oscar Freire (Mapei) @ 11sec
10. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) @ 11sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erik Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Stephane Berges (Ag2R)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre), worn by Cofidis' David Millar
Team GC: CSC-Tiscali, Cofidis 2nd a 3sec

route, stage 2

Tuesday, July 9: Stage 3, Metz - Reims, 174.5 km. Back in France.

The race heads about due east to the ancient city of Reims, where French kings since Louis VII in 1137 have been crowned. In fact, Joan of Arc stood by Charles VII when he was crowned (at her insistence) here. But, I digress. While there are two Category 4 climbs, the last 50 kilometers are about dead flat. Herr Zabel has to be getting irritated. Surely the sprinters will be trying to control this stage

Weather for Tuesday: prediction is for rain, possibly thunderstorms, 82F (28C) with a 15 kph wind fron the WSW (head wind or crosswind).

The Race: Well, it wouldn't be the Tour de France if Jacky "Dudu" Durand didn't take off on a long early breakaway. And that's just what he did. Durand (FDJ) and Franck Renier (Bonjour) left the field at about kilometer 15 and stayed away until about 8 kilometers to go. Karsten Kroon of Rabobank tried to get up to them, but couldn't bridge a gap that grew to about 10 minutes before a field that wasn't terribly motivated for most of the race started to chase them down. I'm sure there were three words tattooed on the brains of the teams that have GC ambitions: Team Time Trial. Tomorrow is a 67.5 kilometer team time trial that will have a profound effect on the rider's times. No one wants to be toasted just before this crucial event. Throughout the stage Zabel did work hard gathering little time bonuses in intermediate sprints so that he could grab the Yellow Jersey.

At about 8 kilometers to go, with the breakaway duo in sight, the pack stopped working in the strong cross wind and bunched up. The Posties went to the front to get things going again.

None of the teams managed to get control of the lead-in to the sprint. It was insanely fast, but completely disordered with Zabel starting from quite aways back. He tried to come around a fast moving McEwen who moved to the left quite a bit in the final 100 meters, forcing Zabel to go the long way around. Zabel couldn't pass him, so the Aussie Champion, Robbie McEwen, took the stage. But Zabel can console himself with the Yellow Jersey.

Rated Climbs:
Km 3.0: Côte de Gravelotte, 2.8 km climb at an average of 4.1%, 4th Cat.
Km 93.5: Côte de la Biesme, 2.0 km climb at an average of 4.8%, 4th Cat.

Results for Stage 3: Zabel in Yellow.

1. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) 4hr 13min 37sec
2. Erik Zabel (Telekom) s.t.
3. Baden Cooke (FDJ) s.t.
4. Andrej Hauptmann (Tacconi) s.t.
5. Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo) s.t.
6. Paolo Bossoni (Tacconi) s.t.
7. Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2R) s.t.
8. François Simon (Bonjour) s.t.
9. Jan Svorada (Lampre) s.t.
10. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) s.t.

GC after Stage 3:

1. Erik Zabel (Telekom) 13hr 31min 35sec
2. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) @ 6sec
3. Rubens Bertogliati (Lampre) @ 14sec
4. Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) @ 17sec
5. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 17sec
6. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 20sec
7. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 22sec
8. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 22sec
9. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) @ 23sec
10. Oscar Friere (Mapei) @ 25sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erik Zabel (worn by Robbie McEwen)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Ruben Bertogliati (Lampre)
Team GC: CSC-Tiscali

route, stage 3

Wednesday, July 10: Stage 4, Team Time Trial; Epernay - Chateau - Thierry, 67.5 km.

This stage matters and matters a lot. This is the first stage that will materially affect the GC standing of the race. A GC contender on a strong team like Armstrong on US Postal can have his interests powerfully advanced. A good rider on a poor team will suffer for it. A team time trial is an art. Some teams like ONCE do it beautifully. Others, will go through the motions or are completely disorganized; strong riders hammer their pulls and drop weaker riders, wheels touch, riders crash.

There is a 200 meter climb in the middle of the stage. This will be a good point to watch how well the riders work together to get their men as a unit over the hill.

This stage is the probable reason for the pack's lackadaisical attitude Tuesday. No one wanted to expend any more energy than possible in order to be fresh.

Speaking of rest before the TTT: Italo Zilioli, a domestique of Merckx's, got into a break on stage 2 of the 1970 Tour de France and found himself in the Yellow Jersey. Merckx's reaction was anger, in that Zilioli should not have worked so hard that day with a team time trial the next morning.

Weather: The original forcast was for rain, but the sun is out and the roads are dry.

The Race: ONCE rode the Team Time Trial like the well-oiled machine that they are. They lost only one man, to a puncture. A few other notes about the race:

US Postal manged to close the gap on ONCE by about 20 seconds in the last 7 kilometers. They finished the race with their team complete.

CSC-Tiscali lost their super time-trial strongman Michael Sanstod to a puncture at about the 20 kilometer mark. They were going to wait for him, but then took off without him. CSC faded a bit in the end. The indecision cost them dearly.

The stages for the next week are fairly flat. The standings shouldn't change much until stage 9, July 15, which is a 52 kilometer individual time trial. Then Stage 16 is the first day in the high Pyrenees.

Results for Stage 4:

1. ONCE 1hr 19min 49sec
2. US Postal @ 16sec
3. CSC-Tiscali @ 46sec
4. Fassa Bortolo @ 1min 30sec
5. Cofidis @ 1min 30sec
6. Ibanesto @ 1min 56sec
7. Domo @ 2min 12sec
8. Rabobank @ 2min 16sec
9. Kelme @ 2m9in 19sec
10. Lampre @ 2min 22sec

GC after Stage 4:

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) 14hr 51 min 50sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4sec
3. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 7sec
4. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 12sec
5. Abrahan Olano (ONCE) @ 22sec
6. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 25sec
7. Viatchesav Ekimov (US Postal) @ 26sec
8. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 27sec
9. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 28sec
10. George Hincappi (US Postal) @ 28sec
15. Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali) @ 37sec
16. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 53sec
39. Erik Zabel (Telekom) @ 2min 21sec
41. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 2min 23sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erik Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Chistophe Mengin (FDJ)
Young Rider's White Jersey: Isidro Nozal (ONCE)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 4

Thursday, July 11: Stage 5, Soissons - Rouen, 195 km.

Soissons is just north-east of Paris. This stage is a flat eastward run that has no rated climbs. Just before arriving in Rouen, there is a steep descent that might see a Savoldelli-type break on the tight turns.

The Race: Despite the winds, today's stage was fast. Today saw the first retirement of this year's Tour. Tom Steels of Mapei hasn't been feeling well and abandoned. Marco Pinotti (Lampre) crashed heavily with about 20 kilometers to go and badly cut his chin. He has also retired from the Tour.

At about 90 kilomters to go, five riders got away: Kirsipuu (Ag2R), Sanstod (CSC-Tiscali), Dierckxsens (Lampre), Edaleine (Jean Delatour) and Casagrande (Alessio). None were GC threats, so they were allowed some freedom. The highest placed member of the break was Edaleine at 4min 47sec. The break got as much as about 4 minutes before ONCE decided to start chasing, but not too hard. The sprinter's teams finally came up, but it was too late. The boys were strong and determined and stayed away. Carol said that the break looked like a better team time trial than some of yesterday's teams. Zabel got a classic lead-out from Fagnini for the field sprint, but just didn't have the suds today. Robbie McEwen lead in the pack for 5th place

Results, Stage 5:

1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2R) 4hr 13min 33sec
2. Michael Sanstod (CSC Tiscali) s.t.
3. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) s.t.
4. Stefano Casagranda (Alessio) @ 3sec
5. Christophe Edaleine (Jean Delatour) @ 8sec
6. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) @ 33sec
7. Baden Cooke (FDJ) s.t.
8. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) s.t.
9. Erik Zabel (Telekom) s.t.
10. Andrej Hauptmann (Tacconi) s.t.

GC after Stage 5

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE)
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4sec
3. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 7sec
4. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 12sec
5. Abrahan Olano (ONCE) @ 22sec
6. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 25sec
7. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 27sec
8. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 28sec
9. George Hincapie (US Postal) @ 28sec
10. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 30 sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erk Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Isidro Nozal (ONCE)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 5


Friday, July 12: Stage 6, Forges les Eaux - Alencon, 199.5 km.

The Tour went through Forges-les-Eaux on Thursday, at kilometer 150. The sheer aggression of this Tour makes a prediction on these flat stages an exercise in futility. The break attempts have been going almost from the gun. ONCE has shown that they will not work hard to keep the yellow jersey, so its up to the collective vigilance of the the pack to keep things together. There are two little sharp category 4 climbs, but they are a long way from the finish.

The two rated climbs:
Km 61.0: Côte du Val d'Any, 2.2 km climb at an average of 3.9% - 4th Cat.
Km 71.5: Côte de Saint-Vigor, 2.6 km climb at an average of 4.0% - 4th Cat.

Weather: cloudy with spots of Rain, 17 - 18C (mid 60's F)

The Race: Erik Zabel keeps his Green Jersey with a classic Hondo-Fagnini Telekom train leadout. McEwen was on his wheel trying to come around him. Zabel led it out and had just enough time to take both hands off the bars in a victory salute. Freire was just next to Zabel as well.

The race was another aggressive break-fest with riders trying to get away from about 10 kilometer mark . One after another, a combination would roll off the front and then get chased down. At 88 kilometers, an important move went: Jacky Durand, of course (FDJ), Stefan Wesemann (Telekom), Paul Van Hyfte (CSC-Tiscali), Constantino Zaballa (Kelme), Emmanuel Mangien (Bonjour) and Massimo Apollonio (Tacconi).

This group of six worked very well together, amassing a lead of as much as 1min 45 sec. All of them took their pulls, but Telekom's Wesemann was careful not to work too hard with a confident Zabel in the pack. The chase was led by a hard-working Credit Agricole and Lotto and Mapei. ONCE kept lurking just behind the working chasing teams, happy to let the sprinter's teams do the work of keeping things together. Telekom, for once, didn't do any chasing with Wesemann in the break.

At 24 kilometers to go, there was a bad crash in the peloton. Alexandr Shefer of Alessio was carried off on a stretcher.

With 12 kilometers to go, the long-lasting break was caught. The defiant Jacky Durand took off for a lone solo attempt, but the pack would not be denied.

With the race all together, it was a classic sprint finish, with a Zabel rested up from his efforts in the team time trial showing that on a good day, he is the man.

Results for stage 6:

1. Erik Zabel (Telekom) 4hr 23min 7sec
2. Oscar Freire (Mapei) s.t.
3. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) s.t.
4. Jan Svorada (Lampre) s.t.
5. Sergei Ivanov (Fassa Bortolo) s.t.
6. Baden Cooke (FDJ) s.t.
7. Thor Hushovd (CA) s.t.
8. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) s.t.
9. Arvis Piziks (CSC) s.t.
10. Andrej Hauptman (Tacconi) s.t.

GC after Stage 6:

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) 23hr 29min 3sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4sec
3. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 7sec
4. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 12sec
5. Abraham Olano (ONCE) @ 22sec
6. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 25sec
7. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 27sec
8. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 28sec
9. George Hincapie (US Postal) @ 28sec
10. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 30 sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erk Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Isidro Nozal (ONCE)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 6

Saturday, July 13: Stage 7, Bagnoles de l'Orne - Avranches, 176 km. The race will head north and then west and back south in a big semi-circle under the Cotentin Peninsula that shelters the Channel Islands. Being so close to the English Channel, there should be some wind. Add the sawtooth profile (about 20 hills, two of them rated) of the stage and we should have some hard racing. There is a tough little climb into Avranches that should favor an opportunist.

The rated climbs:
Km 57.0: Côte du Mont-Pinçon, 1.1 km @ 6.1%, 4th Category.
Km 154.0: L'Embranchement (LA CHAPELLE-UREE), 6.5 km climb @ 2.7 %, 4th Category.

The Race: This was one of those dangerous early stages in Northern France that the GC contenders just try to survive.

At about the 22nd kilometer, a break formed of three riders; Leon Van Bon (Domo), Franck Renier (Bonjour) and Anthony Morin (Credit Agricole). The best placed of them, Renier, was sitting just over 3 minutes down on GC. They worked well together, with no one shirking his work.

The field, led by a moderately interested ONCE, chased, but not too hard. The lead got up to 5min 55sec at about 70 km to go. Telekom assisted in the chase until the lead was justunder 4 minutes.

At 60 km to go, Jonathan Vaughters (Credit Agricole) got the most agonizingly slow wheel change after a crash. After the wheel change, he had to stop and get the other wheel replaced. He did get back into the field after an on-the-fly repair by the race doc to his elbow.

At about 30 km to go, the chase to catch the hard-working trio got serious with Alessio, for reasons I do not yet know, joining the chase. Jean Delatour also joined, probably for Brochard to take a flyer on the climb up to the finish line.

With a couple of kilometers to go, the trio were caught.

But, with 6 kilometers to go, there was a bad crash that took out almost the entire Credit Agricole team that appeared to have been riding together. Didier Rous (Bonjour) was taken out of the Tour with a broken collarbone. World Champion Oscar Freire was tossed into a ditch and had to ride to the finish alone. Christophe Moreau of Credit Agricole looked to have been hurt. Whatever chances he had after his first round of crashes early in the Tour were dashed as he limped slowly to the finish line with other members of his team.

At 2 km to go, with a slowdown in the field, another crash. This time Armstrong, Jalabert, and Tafi were caught. They were up on their bikes in a flash and chased hard.

On the final climb into town, first Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo) jumped, then Pedro Horillo (Mapei) tried. But Brad McGee took off out of the front and with a huge effort held off the pack for a fantastic win.

Armstrong and Jalabert came in 26 seconds after McGee.

I didn't see Jacky Durand in any breaks, probably resting from the last two day's exploits. Tomorrow is Bastille day, so I'm betting on the brave Durand to make the reluctant peloton work the day before the individual time trial. To quote Napoleon quoting Danton: "de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace (audacity, again audacity, always audacity)"

Results for Stage 7:

1. Brad McGee (Australia) FDJ 4hr 10 min 56 sec
2. Jaan Kirsipuu (Estonia) Ag2R s.t.
3. Pedro Horillo (Spain) Mapei s.t.
4. Robbie McEwen (Australia) Lotto s.t.
5. Erik Zabel (Germany) Telekom s.t.
6. Stuart O'Grady (Australia) Credit Agricole s.t.
7. Jan Svorada (Czech) Lampre s.t.
8. Baden Cooke (Australia) FDJ s.t.
9. Fred Rodriguez (US) Domo s.t.
10. Thor Hushovd (Norway) Credit Agricole s.t.

GC after Stage 7:

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) 27hr 39min 59sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4sec
3. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 12sec
4. Abraham Olano (ONCE) @ 22sec
5. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 27sec
6. Jose Azavedo (ONCE) @ 28sec
7. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 30sec
8. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 34sec
9. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 53 sec
10. Andrea Peron (CSC-Tiscalli) @ 53 sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erk Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Isidro Nozal (ONCE)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 7

Sunday, July 14: Stage 8, St. Martin de Landelles - Plouay, 217.5 km.

We've moved from Normandy to Brittany. There should be more winds with Plouay so close to the Bay of Biscay. While the profile of today's stage is a lot like the others of the last week, constant small hills, it is the high speed and constant aggression that keeps the racing hard. The final 14 kilometers will take the riders on a loop of the 2000 world championships road course. The top GC contenders will be trying to really minimize their efforts with the 52-kilometer individual time trial coming up Monday. It should make for some fine opportunistic riding, and that spells Jacky Durand to me.

The rated climbs:
Km 72.0: BECHEREL (Côte de), 1.8 km @ 4.0%, 4th Cat.
Km 187.0: Côte de Kervalan (MELRAND), 1.7 km @ 5.0%, 4th Cat.
Km 214.0: Côte de Ty-Marrec, 1.4 km @ 9.1%, 4th Cat.

The Race: Two riders did not start Stage 8: Oscar Freire (Mapei) who was caught up in on the the late crashes in Stage 7 and injured his very fragile back, and Aart Vierhouten (Lotto). Both Mapei and Lotto are down to 7 riders each and there are now 182 riders in the Tour.

The weather is nice, patches of cumulus clouds amid blue sky, winds from the north at abut 20 kph (12 mph), temperatures in the low 20's C (70's F).

I thought today's stage would be ridden in a conservative manner, allowing opportunistic breaks to get away with greater than normal ease. I was never more wrong. The first two hours were ridden at an average speed of 49.3 kph. When you realize that the record fastest stage was 50.3 kph in a stage won in 1999 by Cipollini, it becomes clear how fast today's race started out. Break after break kept trying to get away only to be swept up by the relentless speeding peloton.

At kilometer 108, a serious break rolled off the front. The riders: Sebastien Hinault (Credit Agricole), Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites), Karsten Kroon & Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre), Franck Renier (Bonjour) and Stephane Auge (Jean Delatour). By kilometer 150, this lead had grown to 6 minutes.

With the gap at 6 minutes, Ag2R decided to contribute to the chase, aiding ONCE. By kilometer 170, the gap was down to about 4 minutes. The group of 7 breakaways worked well together, with no one avoiding his share of the work.

With 20 kilometers to go Erik Dekker started attacking, and attacking, and attacking again. Sometimes he would get dropped by the lead group and claw his way back and then attack again. Then the others started trying to get away. Then, just at the end, with just 50 meters to go, Karsten Kroon, who has been trying to get into an effective break most of this Tour, took off. Dekker's constant attacks exhausted the other riders in the break, softening them up for Kroon's win. Dekker is obviously starting to find some form after his broken leg in Milan-San Remo.

Robbie McEwen led in the pack for the field sprint. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano stays in yellow for another day.

Jacky Durand did get away for a short while early in the stage but could not get in a break that stuckl.

Tomorrow, a 52-kilometer individual time trial. The GC standings will change.

Results for Stage 8:

1. Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) 4hr 36min 52 sec
2. Servais Knaven (Domo) s.t.
3. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) s.t.
4. Franck Renier (Bonjour) s.t.
5. Sebastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) s.t.
6. Stephane Auge (Jean Delatour) s.t.
7. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre) s.t.
8. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) @ 1min 55sec
9. Erik Zabel (Telekom) s.t.
10. Baden Cooke (FDJ) s.t.

GC after Stage 8:

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) 32hr 18min 46sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4sec
3. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) @ 12sec
4. Abraham Olano (ONCE) @ 22sec
5. Isidro Nozal (ONCE) @ 27sec
6. Jose Azavedo (ONCE) @ 28sec
7. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 30sec
8. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 34sec
9. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 53 sec
10. Andrea Peron (CSC-Tiscalli) @ 53 sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erk Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Isidro Nozal (ONCE)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 8

Monday, July 15: Stage 9, Lanester - Lorient 52-kilometer individual time trial.

Lance Armstrong and his team boss Bruyneel have said that this is not where the Tour will be won or lost. That decision will be made in the mountains. They have therefore timed Armstrong's fitness peak to come later in the Tour. But with the Spanish riders riding so well, this should end up being very important. No one has mentioned Dario Frigo as a possible top finisher in this stage. The Italian time trial champion should move up many places on this stage, but the poor team time trial set his chances for a top showing in Paris way back. A look at the profile below will show that it's not a "put it in the 150-inch gear and go" tt. It's going to be a tough ride and I expect the GC contenders will rise to the top and reorganize the standings.

The first rider to ride the time trial will be the last rider in GC (Thor Hushovd) at 10:30 AM local time (1:30 AM Pacific). The first 22 riders will leave in 1 minute intervals. Then the riders will leave in 2 minute intervals. The final 30 riders will leave every 3 minutes. The final rider to ride will be the Yellow Jersey, Gonzalez de Galdeano. He will finish about 5:15 PM local time (8:15 AM Pacific). Since the riders are leaving in reverse GC order, Armstrong will leave at 3:49 (6:49 Pacific) followed by the 7 ONCE riders that presently dominate the GC listings by virtue of their superb team time trial.

The Race: Santiago Botero did something no one has been able to do in years: beat Lance Armstrong in an individual time trial during the Tour de France. The Postal camp made it clear that this was not where the effort for training and physical peaking were to be. That is saved for the mountains that start Thursday.

Jalabert's 2002 Tour Jinx continues to haunt him. He got a flat tire and the mechanic worked on doing a very slow wheel change. Mid-way through the job as he couldn't get the rear wheel out of the frame, the mechanic ran back and got Jaja a new bike. It must have cost at least 50 seconds.

The mountain stages look very interesting now with such (seeming) parity among the good riders before the Pyrenees.

Tuesday is a rest day and a transfer to the south of France.

The intermediate times for the stage are listed below:

At the 1st time check-point, 19.5 km, with all riders having passed this point:

1. HONCHAR (UKR, FAS) 19.5km in 24':40"
2. BOTERO (COL, KEL) at 02"
4. ARMSTRONG (USA, USP) at 06"

At the 35 km time check, all riders through:

1. BOTERO (COL, KEL) 00:42:16
3. HONCHAR (UKR, FAS) at 02"
5. RUMSAS (LTU, LAM) at 15"

At the 46 km time check:

1. BOTERO (COL, KEL) 46km in 55'19"
2. ARMSTRONG (USA, USP) at 05"
3. HONCHAR (UKR, FAS) at 08"


1. Santiago Botero (Kelme) 1 hr 2min 18sec
2. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 11sec
3. Sergei Honchar (Fassa Bortolo) @ 18sec
4. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 19sec
5. Laszlo Bodrogi (Mapei) @ 25sec
6. Raimondas Runsas (Lampre) @ 25sec
7. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 50sec
8. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) @ 1min 34sec
9. Andrea Peron (CSC-Tiscali) @ 1min 34sec
10. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 1min 38sec
12. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 1min 56sec
19. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 2min 35sec

GC after Stage 9:

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) 33hr 21min 23sec
2. Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service) @ 26sec
3. Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski) @ 1min 23sec
4. Sergei Honchar (Fassa Bortolo) 1min 35sec
5. Santiago Botero (Kelme-Costa Blanca) @ 1min 55sec
6. Andrea Peron (CSC-Tiscali) @ 2min 8sec
7. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 2min 11sec
8. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 2min 22sec
9. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 2min 30sec
10. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 2min 45sec
22. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 4min 39sec
26. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) @ 5min 19sec
29. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) @ 5min 21sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erk Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: David Millar (Cofidis)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 9

Tuesday, July 16: Rest day

Wednesday, July 17: Stage 10, Bazas - Pau, 147 km.

We're in Gascony (wasn't d'Artagnan a Gascon?) for a trip to the base of the Pyrenees. This stage is comparatively short at 147 kilometers, but the later part of the course will be tough. This will be the last time for the non-climbers to have a shot at glory for a while.

The climbs
Km 93.5: EUGENIE-LES-BAINS (Côte de), 1.0 km @ 5.8%, Category 4
Km 113.0: Côte de Boucoue (POURSUIGUES-BOUCOUE), 0.8 km @ 7.5%, Category 4
Km 126.0: Auga (Côte de), 2.1 km @ 5.8%, Category 4

The Race: The first hour was done at a blistering pace, 54.5 kph, with several break attempts, all of which got swept up. At about 85 kilometers to go, 11 riders got away and stayed away. They are the top eleven finishers listed above on today's stage results.

On the last climb with about 20 kilometers to go, the top 4 finishers got away: Halgand, Pineau, O'Grady and Dierckxsens. There were then two groups with Unai Etxebarria chasing the second group alone and then the pack. Both breakaway groups seemed to be working together. With about 8 kilometers to go, Patrice Halgand attacked the leading quartet from the back of the group while Stuart O'Grady was leading. The remaining trio just watched the Frenchman get away without responding, each hoping the other would react. That was the race. Halgand stayed away and Etxebarria was able to hold off the chasing field. Now, at last, we have a French stage winner. ONCE did a lot of work at the front the day before the first high mountains.

Robbie McEwen takes the Green Jersey from Erik Zabel.

Results for Stage 10:

Stage 10 finish

1. Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) 3hr 15sec
2. Jerome Pineau (Bonjour) @ 27sec
3. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) @ 33sec
4. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) s.t.
5. Pedro Horillo (Mapei) @ 1min
6. Andy Flickinger (AG2R) s.t.
7. Nicolas Vogondy ( s.t.
8. Nico Mattan (Cofidis) s.t.
9. Constantino Zaballa (Kelme) s.t.
10. Enrico Cassani (Domo) @ 1min 2sec
11. Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) @ 3min 29sec
12. Baden Cooke (FDJ) @ 3min 57sec

GC after Stage 10:

1. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) 36hr 25min 35sec
2. Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service) @ 26sec
3. Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski) @ 1min 23sec
4. Sergei Honchar (Fassa Bortolo) 1min 35sec
5. Santiago Botero (Kelme-Costa Blanca) @ 1min 55sec
6. Andrea Peron (CSC-Tiscali) @ 2min 8sec
7. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) @ 2min 15sec
8. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 2min 11sec
9. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 2min 22sec
10. Tyler Hamilton (CSC-Tiscali) @ 2min 30sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Robbie McEwen (Lotto)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Christophe Mengin (FDJ)
White Young Rider's Jersey: David Millar (Cofidis)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

route, stage 10

Thursday, July 18: Stage 11, Pau - La Mongie, 158 km.

Chapter 2 of the 2002 Tour starts today with the first stage in the high mountains.

There has been endless speculation about Armstrong's powers,which I believe to be undiminished and untested, and the growing strength of the Spanish. This will all be partly settled on this stage. I say only partly because there is another component of a great stage racer that remains to be tested: the ability to recuperate and take and deliver huge attacks day after day in the mountains. This year's Tour will test this like no other. Remember stage 17 of this year's Giro? Several riders looked great until the final climb of the final day in the mountains. Then several collapsed. That's why I am astonished that Saiz's ONCE team have expended so much energy defending the Yellow Jersey.

The Posties and Kelme boys must be thanking a kind God that ONCE has been working so hard to keep things together. Neither Kelme with Botero and Sevilla, or Euskaltel filled with awesome climbing talent, have had to turn a pedal in anger yet. They are tanned, rested and ready. Armstrong's Postal squad has been able to deliver Armstrong in second place in GC to the base of the mountains without having to expend too much energy either. This will be a fantastic week of racing.

The rated climbs:

Km 35: Cote de Louvie-Juzon, Category 4
Km 66.5: Col d'Aubisque, 16.7 km @ 7.1%, Hors Category.
Km 76.5: Col de Soulor, 2.3 km @ 5.2% not rated.
Km 158: La Mongie, 12.9 km @ 6.8%, Category 1.

The climb to La Mongie is actually the east side of the Tourmalet, stopping four kilometers from the summit.

The Race: The weather for Stage 11: Clear and warm, 28C in Pau.

The first day in the mountains appears, barring misfortune, to have been decisive. Armstrong won the stage and the Yellow Jersey without extreme effort, letting his team do the lion's share of the work. While Laurent Jalabert was off on an audacious exploit, looking for a solo victory, The US Postal team took control of the race almost from the start. When Heras came to the front on the final climb to La Mongie, almost all of the riders simply fell off the back without Armstrong's having to drop the hammer himself. Only ONCE's Joseba Beloki was able to stay with Heras and Armstrong as they rode the greatest riders in the world off their wheels. Here's how it went:

Over the Aubisque: Attacks started at kilometer 6, with the speed high and the aggression level the same. Jalabert got away with 8 other riders and then just rode them off his wheel. The last remaining rider, Euskaltel's David Etxebarria, could not take a pull and was eventually dropped by Jalabert. US Postal did the pacemaking on the climb. There were about 50 riders in the pack that went over the top. Floyd Landis was dropped by the peloton on the Aubisque.

Here's how they went over the top:

1. Jalabert
2. Etxebarria @ 1min 17sec
3. Halgand leading the pack @ 2min 10sec
4. Bradley McGee
5. Virenque @ 2min 16sec
6. Sevilla 2min 36sec
7. Pena
8. Armstrong
9. Moreau
10. Beloki

On the descent after the Aubisque: US Postal is still leading the pack. Brad McGee crashed and rejoined the main peloton. Michael Sanstod of CSC crashed out of the race. Jalabert stays 3min 30sec ahead of the pack. The yellow Jersey and the rest of the favorites are all there.

35 kilometers to go: Jalabert stays about 3 minutes ahead, alone. He looks tired, but he is keeping his lead. The pack is still led by US Postal. Beloki had a couple of mechanical problems, but rejoined the field. Rolf Aldag of Telekom has been doing a lot of work with the Posties at the front of the field.

25 kilometers to go: Jalabert is still over 3 minutes ahead. Zabel takes the intermediate sprint to take the Green Jersey back from Lotto's Robbie McEwen

At the base of the Tourmalet, the final climb to La Mongie, 13 kilometers to go: Jalabert is still over 3min 20sec ahead. A swarm of Posties are at the front of the field. Sastre, Botero, ONCE with the Yellow Jersey, Leipheimer are there as well.

10 kilometers to go: Jalabert still 3min 10 sec ahead. Riders are coming off the back of the pack like flies. Postal led by Hincapie still leads.

Lefevre of Jean Delatour attacks. No one cares, no response. Postal's Rubiera takes the lead and increases the pace. Julich, Frigo, Boogerd, Menchov are off. Lefevre is caught.

5 kilometers to go: The pace is hot, Hamilton and Virenque are in trouble. Jalbert's lead is falling, 1 min 20 sec. The Yellow jersey is off.

Heras hammers, Leipheimer is off. It's Heras, Armstrong and Beloki alone.

Jalabert is under a minute off the front. Beloki is having trouble staying with Heras and Armstrong.

Under 4 to go: Jalabert looks back and sees Heras, Armstrong and Beloki. No stage win for Jalabert. He jumps in and sits on the back of the trio, then cracks. But what a ride!

2 kilometers to go: Armstrong is riding economically, letting Heras do the red-hot pacemaking. Beloki stays on Armstong's wheel. The Yellow Jersey is a minute back. Jalabert is holding on for 4th place so far. No, Basso has caught him. Armstrong looks unstressed. Other riders including Basso pass Jalabert.

100 meters to go: After a bit of jockeying, Armstrong stands up and takes off. Beloki tries but can't stay with him. Armstrong easily wins the stage and the Yellow Jersey.

Results for Stage 11:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal 4 hr 21min 57sec)
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 7sec
3. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 13sec
4. Francisco Mancebo @ 1min 16sec
5. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) s.t.
6. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) @ 1min 23sec
7. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 1min 23
8. Andrei Kivilev @ 1min 34sec
9. Laurent Jalabert (CSC-Tiscalli) @ 1min 49ec
10. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 1min52 sec

GC after Stage 11:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 40hr 47min 38sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 1min 12sec
3. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 1min 48sec
4. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 3min 32sec
5. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 4min 13sec
6. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 4min 31 sec
7. Marcos Serrano @ 5min 17sec
8. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 5min 12sec
9. Francisco Mancebo @ 5min 33sec
10. Serhiy Honchar (Fassa Bortolo) @ 5min 35sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erik Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Patrice Halgan (Jean Delatour)
White Young Rider's Jersey: Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)
Team GC Leader: ONCE

Friday, July 19: Stage 12, Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille.

This is one tough stage. Perhaps some of the riders dropped yesterday will have found their legs. By the way, that shows the depth of the US Postal team. The greatest riders in the world were not dropped by Armstrong. His team rode them off his wheel while Armstrong sat on. I think the 2002 US Postal team may well be remembered the way baseball fans think of the 1927 Yankees. That burnoff line on the Tourmalet, Hincapie, Robiera, Heras, Armstrong: is that "Murderer's Row", the equivalant of Ruth, Gehrig, Meusel and Lazzeri? For all of Armstrong's courteous humility to Heras' power in the post-race interviews, Armstrong was chatting easily on the climb while others where dying a thousand deaths. When it came time for the final sprint, he was gone. I think there's lots more where that came from.

But, be sure of one thing. The Spaniards are coming back for more. This race has just begun.

The rated climbs:
Km 56.0: Col de MENTE, 9.4 km @ 9.0%, 1st Category
Km 71.5: Col de Portet-d'Aspet, 4.3 km @ 9.9%, 2nd Category
Km 107.5: Col de la Core, 14.3 km @ 5.8%, 1st Category
Km 155.5: Col de Port, 12.6 km @ 4.9%, 2nd Category
Km 199.5: PLATEAU-DE-BEILLE, 15.9 km @ 7.8%, H.C.

The Race: Weather: Clear, sunny and hot. High 20's C (80's F) in the valleys and low 20's at the top of the climbs.

Stage 12 started with 176 riders. There have been only 12 abandons. There are 5 rated climbs on today's long stage that will take about 6 hours. Laurent Jalabert has gone on another fabulous ride, showing his incredible strength by riding his breakaway companions off his wheel and then waiting for them. And this after his tremendous effort yesterday. Here's how they went over the first climb, the 1st Category Col de Mente:
1. Oriol
2. Jalabert @ 34sec
3. Mazzoleni @ 1min 35sec
4. Zberg
5. Etxebarria
6. Nozal
7. Martinez
8. Bothcharov
9. Dufaux@ 1min 50sec
10. Virenque
11. Bruseghin
12. Bolts
13. Sevilla
The postal-led peloton was 2min 10sec behind.

Then, over the 2nd Category d'Aspet:
1. Jalabert
2. Dufaux @5sec
3. Nozal

The three joined forces on the descent and are working together. Virenque is leading a 7-man chase group at 1min 20sec and the peloton is at 3min 30sec.

On the Col de la Core, Carlos Sastre and Christophe Moreau are fighting in the peloton. Moreau hit Sastre in the face.

So, here is how they went over the Col de la Core with 92 kilometers to go and two more climbs, the 2nd category Col de Port and the HC hill-top finish:

1. Laurent Jalabert (CSC) He has now earned the Polka-Dot Jersey.
2. Laurent Dufaux (Alessio)
3. Isidro Nozal (ONCE-Eroski) who is not working to help the break.
4. Richard Virenque (Domo) @ 2min 45sec
5. Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi)
6. Alexandre Botcharov (AG2R) @ 2min 48sec
The Postal-led peloton was 4min 10sec behind Jalabert at the summit

62 kilometers to go: Jalabert, Dufeaux and Nozal lead the peloton by 4min 51sec. Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) has dropped the Virenque group and is in no man's land, 3min 50 seconds behind the Jalabert trio. The peloton has caught Virenque's group.

On the Col de Port, Jalabert's trio has a five minute lead. The peloton is being led by lots of Posties with a comfortable looking Armstrong. More riders are being shelled including both Etxebarrias, Voigt, Hondo and O'Grady. Mazzoleni has been caught by the peloton after stopping for a mechanical problem.

Over the top of the Col de Port, 44 kilometers to go: Jalabert leads Dufeaux and Nozal for 20 more climbing points with a lead of over 80 points in the competition for the Climber's Jersey. Postal continues to lead the pack on the climb.

Konecny led Merckx and the pack over the top and 4min 37sec behind Jalabert.

20 kilometers to go in the valley before the final climb: Jalabert, Dufeau and Nozal (who has not yet done any work) lead by 3min 43sec. The gap is falling. Konecny has been caught after gaining a gap of about 15sec on the descent. Postal doing the work of leading a pack of about 40 riders.

The pack is passing through Le Cabannes, the start of the climb. The gap to Jalabert keeps falling. It's now 3min. Beloki and Rumsas and the other contenders are clustering behind Armstrong. Hincapie is leading a string of Postal riders. Will the other riders let Postal's "Murderer's Row" wreck them again? Olano has been dropped.

Postal has Rubiera leading while ONCE has sent Serrano off the front.

Jalabert has dropped his companions with a gap of under 2 minutes. Rubiera's work has been very effective. Serrano has been caught and riders are still being dropped. Rumsas, Beloki, Kivilev and Hamilton are still in the Yellow Jersey group.

11 kilometers to go: Leipheimer, Hamilton, Sevilla have been dropped.

9 kilometers to go, Jalabert has been caught. Rubiera hammers at the front. There are 3 Postal and ONCE riders in the lead group: Armstrong, Rubiera, Heras, Beloki, Gonzalez de Galdeano, Serrano, Kivilev, Rumsas, Sastre and Goubert.

6 kilometers to go: Heras hits the front. Bam! It's yesterday again. Beloki is the only rider to stay with Heras and Armstrong.

Bam again! Armstrong stands up and dances away. Beloki can't answer and is 20 meters off with Heras on his wheel.

5 kilometers to go, Lance's gap is now 19 seconds. Beloki is giving it all he has with Heras sitting on his wheel. Farther back Rumsas, Botero, Galdeano and Serrano try to limit their loses.

Boom! Heras attacks Beloki and dances away up the hill to an Armstrong who appears to be moderating his efforts to have Heras join him. Again, Beloki cannot answer. Looks like a Postal 1-2 coming up.

Under 4 to go: Beloki is chasing hard and slowly closing in on Heras where the road flattens and Hera's climbing advantage is not as great.

Heras can't catch Armstrong and waits for Beloki.

3 kilometers to go: Beloki catches Heras. Armstrong is now 35sec ahead.

1 kilometer to go: Armstrong is now 55 seconds ahead of Beloki and Heras and is pedaling smoothly with his trademark high cadence style.

Armstrong wins alone with both fists in the air. Heras dings Beloki for second 1min 3 seconds behind.


Lance Armstrong wins stage 12

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 6hr 29sec
2. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 1min 4sec
3. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) s.t.
4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 1min 11sec
5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano s.t.
6. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 1min 23sec
7. Carlos Sastre (CSC-Tiscali) @ 1min 33sec
8. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 1min 37sec
9. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) @ 2min 7sec
10. Andrei Kivilev @ 2min 39sec

GC after stage 12:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 46hr 47min 47sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 2min 28sec
3. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 3min 19sec
4. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 5min 15sec
5. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 5min 44sec
6. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 7min 44sec
7. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 8min 1sec
8. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 8min 24sec
9. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) @ 9min 5sec
10. Francisco Mancebo @ 9min 10sec

Green Sprinter's Jersey: Erik Zabel (Telekom)
Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali)

route, stage 12\

Saturday, July 20: Stage 13, Lavelanet - Beziers, 171 km.

Although there are a few climbs early in the stage, the last 100 kilometers are flat. This will allow us to enjoy the tough fight for the green jersey between Erik Zabel (217 points) and Robby McEwen (216 points). This fight could go down the the last sprint in Paris. I hope so.

The rated climbs:
Km 8.5: Col de Montségur (Château), 4.3 km @ 8.3%, 3rd Category
Km 31.0: Col de la Badourade, 6.7 km @ 2.4%, 4th Category
Km 48.5: Col de Saint-Benoit, 4.9 km @ 4.7%, 3rd Category

The Race: Run under blisteringly hot conditions (30C-40C or mid 80's F to 90's F), this was a day for Jalabert to suck up more Climber's points and a Postal-led peloton to do no more work than was needed.

On the first climb, the 3rd category Montségur, 4 riders got away: Eddy Mazzoleni, Laurent Jalabert, Michael Boogerd and David Millar. Mazzoleni, who has been very aggressive the entire Tour, initiated the break. Over the top Jalabert got the 1st place climber's points. Jalabert also took the other two categorized climbs. Chasing this break were 7 riders who eventually joined the 4: Julich, Zberg, Martinez, Latasa, D. Etxebarria, Brochard and Pascual. Now the break had 11 good riders. The lead kept growing with all the riders working in a neat, short-pull pace-line that just rolled beautifully down the road. Finally Lampre started to help, worried that Jalabert's lead could threaten Rumsas' 4th place in GC. At one point the gap was over 13 minutes.

With less than 20 kilometers to go, first Jalabert and then Millar attacked the break. 5 riders got loose: Millar, Boogerd, Etxebarria, Latasa and Brochard. They stayed away. Especially in the closing kilometers, Boogerd did everything he could to miss his pulls and sit in the back. Once in town Brochard made several attacks while Etxebarria did what he could to keep things together and the speed high, feeling sure of his sprint. In the final kilometer there was some serious jockying for position and finally Latasa led it out and blew up. Millar took the sprint. The remains of the break came in about a minute later. Baden Cooke won the field sprint 10 minutes after Millar crossed the line.

Results for Stage 13:

1. David Millar (Cofidis) 4hr 8min 18sec
2. David Etxebarria (Euskaltel) s.t.
3. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) s.t.
4. Laurent Brochard (Jean Delatour) s.t.
5. David Latasa ( @ 4sec
6. Javier Pascual (Ibanesto) @ 56sec
7. Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi) @ 56sec
8. Miguel Martinez (Mapei) @ 1min 6sec
9. Beat Zberg (Rabobank) @ 1min 6sec
10. Bobby Julich (Telekom) @ 1min 8sec
11. Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali) @ 1min 10sec
12. Baden Cooke took the field sprint. (FDJ) @ 9min 56sec

GC after Stage 13:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 51hr 6min 1sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 2min 28sec
3. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 3min 19sec
4. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 5min 15sec
5. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 5min 44sec
6. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) @ 7min 44sec
7. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 8min 1sec
8. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 8min 24sec
9. Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tisacali) @ 8min 57sec
10. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) @ 9min 5sec

Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali)
Green Sprinter's Jersey:Robbie McEwen, but Zabel and McEwen are tied at 229 points each.
White Young Rider's Jersey: Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)

Paolo Bossoni (TACCONI)
José-Javier Gomez (KELME)

route, stage 13

Sunday, July 21: Stage 14, Lodeve - Mount Ventoux, 221 km.

There is only 1 rated climb on this stage, but what a climb, the dry, forbidding "Giant of Provence", the dead volcano that Lance Armstrong calls the toughest climb of this year's tour. The first 183 kilometers are a long flat run. They'll cross to the west side of the Rhone just north of Avignon (Chateauneuf-du-Pape). About 13 kilometers after they cross, the climbing will start with the tough stuff at about 21 kilometers to go. Mount Ventoux has an average gradient of 7.5%, with the steepest sections in the middle of the climb.

I had expected more of the Spaniards after all their pre-race talk of a wide open race. The utter banality of their tactics has left me dumbfounded. First, ONCE wasted huge amounts of energy defending the comparatively unimportant interim possesion of the Yellow Jersey while US Postal happily sat on; surprised, but pleased.

Then, for two carbon-copy days in a row the Spaniards sat on while US Postal rode the race that suited Armstrong. Postal set a good pace and when they came to final final climb, their "Murderer's Row" burn-out pace-line dropped every one but Beloki, and then left Beloki to limit his losses at the top. If this is ONCE's plan, to continue riding like this, I can save them a lot of work. Just fly to Paris and watch Lance take the win. I haven't seen ONCE sending danger men off the front, forcing Postal to chase and work hard or any of a lot of other tactics to weaken the team. An old Merckx tactic was to keep the speed high on the flats, forcing the small climbers to thrash big gears, depleting their reserves and making it harder for the small specialists to have their way with the all-rounders on the climb. Bicycle racing is head and legs, that's why I like it so much. I want a real tussle with a worthy winner besting adversaries that gave it all. So does Lance. That's why he was so unhappy when Ulrich couldn't ride. So far, the only brains I've seen in the GC fight are dressed in Blue. Let's see if they adapt to the situation on Mt. Ventoux.

The Race: Warm weather has greeted the 164 starters the the Mount Ventoux stage. 32C (80's) is forecast for the riders at Chateauneuf-Du-Pape (km 160) and 18C for Mount Ventoux itself.

At about the 20 kilometer point, 11 riders broke away: Mikel Pradera (ONCE), Thor Hushovd (CA), Anthony Morin (CA), Richard Virenque (Domo), Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo), Dariusz Baranowski (, Marco Serpellini (Lampre), Alexandre Botcharov (AG2R), Cristian Moreni (Alessio), Stephane Auge (Jean Delatour) and Christophe Edaleine (Jean Delatour). With 100 kilometers to ride, they built up a lead of of about 11min 40sec. The Postal squad is doing most of the work with Rabobank helping on behalf of Leipheimer. After another 20 kilometers, CSC-Tiscali also came to the front to help. For much of the chase, the peloton was strung out. While the lead grew to over 12 minutes, with the combined teams working, it came down to a little over 10 minutes with 50 kilometers to go.

With 30 kilometers to go, the lead of the 11 riders was down to 8min 40sec. Pradera (ONCE) and Serpellini (Lampre) didn't do any work in the break because they had highly placed GC riders (Beloki and Rumsas) on their teams.

With 20 kilometers to go, on the early part of the Ventoux climb the lead group had 7min 10sec. But, because of an attack by Moreni, the group was reduced to 6: Moreni, Virenque, Baranowski, Botcharov, Serpellini and Pradera.

Constant attacks whittled the lead group down to just 2 riders by the 11 kilometer mark: Virenque and Botcharov. About 6 minutes back, the Yellow Jersey peloton was down to an elite group: Armstrong, Heras, Rubiera, Basso, Beloki, Botero, Rumsas and Mancebo.

Up front, Virenque attacked Botcharov and flew up the hill alone. Meanwhile, in the Yellow Jersey group, Beloki tried to attack Armstrong, who quickly matched Beloki's effort. He did have the effect of getting rid of Heras and Rubiera. That left Armstrong with Beloki, Azevedo, Rumsas and Basso. Azevedo tried an attack to no effect, and then Beloki hit again.

Armstrong responded to Beloki's second attack by instantly getting on Beloki's wheel and then hit the attackers with one of his own and sped off alone. Virenque won the stage with his dropped breakaway companion Botcharov almost 2 minutes behind, followed by a quickly closing Armstrong.

As Virenque climbed the last few kilometers, the pains of every torture of Hell were etched on his face. After hours in a breakaway, doing his share of the work, his legs must have been screaming. For once, as he motored in pursuit of Virenque and the stage win, Armstrong's face showed the toll of the terrible effort. The crowds that lined the road to the top of the extinct vocano were huge and somewhat partisan. The French have entirely forgiven Virenque for his part in the 1998 Festina doping affair and wildly cheered him on. Armstrong, on the other hand, was on the recieving end of some boos and cries of "dop-ey" (French for doped). In a press conference after the stage Armstrong was disdainful of the hecklers, "I don't really care. Now will I care in 3 or 4 years when I'm sitting on the beach with my kids having a cool beer."

While Armstrong could not catch the determined Frenchman, he did extend his lead over Beloki to 4 min 21sec. Virenque had been away for 202 kilometers. Magnificent!

The climber's competition is starting to look interesting. Jalabert has 167 points, Armstrong has 114 and Virenque now is 3rd with 99. Will Virenque, who has no fear of a long break, spend the rest of the Alpine stages fighting Jalabert for the Polka-Dot jersey?

Results for stage 14:

1. Richard Virenque (Domo-Farm Frites) 5hr 43min 26sec
2. Alexandre Botcharov (AG2R) @ 1min 58sec
3. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) @ 2min 20sec
4. Marco Serpellini (Lampre) @ 2min 54sec
5. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 3min 36sec
6. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 3min 38sec
7. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 3min 51sec
8. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4min 5sec
9. Dariusz Baranowski (Ibanesto) @ 4min 10sec
10. Ivan Gotti (Alessio) @ 4min 25sec
11. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 4min 25sec

GC after Stage 14:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski) @ 4min 21sec
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 6min 39sec
4. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) @ 7min 4sec
5. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 10min 49sec
6. Jose Avevedo (ONCE) @ 10 min 57sec
7. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 11min 35sec
8. Oscar Sevilla (Kelme) @ 12min 45sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 12min 54sec
10. Richard Virenque (Domo) @ 13min 12sec

Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali)
Green Sprinter's Jersey:Robbie McEwen. Zabel and McEwen remain tied at 229 points each.
White Young Rider's Jersey: Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)

route, stage 14

Monday, July 22: Rest Day.

Tuesday, July 23: Stage 15, Vaison la Romaine - Les Deux Alpes, 229 kilometers.

This is both the longest stage of the Tour and the first Alpine stage. It has only one 1st category climb. The rest is a succession of tough 2nd and 3rd category climbs spread over what the Tour management is predicting will take 7 hours. Armstrong has announced that with his solid lead, he will exercise the privilege of racing defensively. Beloki, in 2nd, has conceded the Yellow Jersey to Armstrong and announced that he will work to defend 2nd place. Lampre's Rumsas, presently in 3rd, less than a couple of minutes down on Beloki, has said that he wants to finish 2nd. It sounds like Beloki's got some really hard racing ahead of him.

The rated climbs:
Km 68.5: Col de Prémol, 2.2 km climb at 5.5%, 3rd Category
Km 116.0: Col de Grimone, 11.4 km climb at 4.9%, 2nd Category
Km 123.5: Col de la Croix-Haute, 3.0 km climb at 4.0%, 3rd Category
Km 136.5: Col du Banchet, 2.6 km climb at 6.6%, 3rd Category
Km 160.0: Côte de Ponsonas, 2.3 km climb at 6.4%, 3rd Category
Km 190.0: Col d'Ornon, 9.8 km climb at 4.8%, 2nd Category
Km 226.5: LES DEUX-ALPES, 11.2 km climb at 6.4%, 1st Category

The Race: Stage 15's start is greeted by warm weather and a light wind from the north, which should end up being in the racer's faces.

The race started off very fast with aggressive moves going almost from the gun. On the descent of the first climb, Christophe Moreau crashed and had to abandon the race.

After the descent, a group of 7 formed an effective break: Santiago Botero (Kelme), Axel Merckx (Domo) Sandy Casar (, Emmanuele Magnien (Bonjour), Vincente Garcia-Acosta (, Mario Aerts (Lotto) and Martin Hvastija (Alessio). None are GC threats to Armstrong with Botero having had a terrible day Sunday on the Ventoux. He is down 18 min 36sec, in 18th place.

The lead grew to 10min 50sec with 90 kilometers to go, but the Posties have been bringing it down. Axel Merckx led the break over the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th climbs.

With 38 kilometers to go, the 7 are still away with a lead of 9min 30sec.

Before the start of the final climb, ONCE's Azevedo manged to get loose from the peloton. So here is the situation: the seven leaders, then Azevedo at 9min 5sec and then the pack, led by Postal at 9min 30sec.

With 12 kilometers to go, the Pink-clad ONCE riders went to the front. Probably to defend de Galdeano's 4th place. With such a big lead, the breakaways are surely gone for the day.

10 kilometers to go. Riders are getting shelled off the back of the pack. The yellow jersey has about 30 companions.

8 km to go. Botero attacks and escapes by countering a Merckx attempt to get loose. It's Botero, then a big gap to Merckx, then another big gap to Lotto's Aerts. Merckx is chasing hard.

5 kilometers to go, Botero's lead over Merckx is 37 seconds. ONCE continues to lead the peloton with Postal just behind.

3 kilometers to go, Aerts flies past Merckx, Botero is a minute and a half up the road and the field which has dropped Virenque, Sevilla and Gotti is over 6 minutes back.

Botero is turning squares, but is truly gone as he rides within the barriers near the finish.

The grimace is gone. Botero salutes the crowd with both fists pumping in joy. A superb win for the Colombian Kelme rider. Aerts comes in almost 2 minutes later, then Merckx a few seconds later.

A little drama for the field sprint. Heras and Mancebo were a few yards off the front when Beloki took off. Armstrong wasn't expecting the move and had to shut down the gap with a very alert Rumsas on his wheel. The trio were together and then just before the line, Rumsas took off for the field win. Botero moves from 18th in GC to 7th.

Results for stage 15:

1. Santiago Botero (Kelme) 5hr 55min 16sec
2. Mario Aerts (Lotto) @ 1min 51sec
3. Axel Merckx (Domo) @ 2min 30sec
4. Emmanuel Mangien (Bonjour) @ 4min 22sec
5. Sandy Casar (FDJ) @ 4min 28sec
6. Jose Garcia-Acosta (Ibanesto) @ 5min 15sec
7. Raimonda Rumsas (Lampre) @ 6min 41sec
8. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) s.t.
9. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) s.t.
10. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 6min 46sec

GC after Stage 15:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 62hr 53min 36sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 4min 21sc
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 6min 39sec
4. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 8min 50sec
5. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 10min 54sec
6. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 11min 11sec
7. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 11min 31sec
8. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 11min 41sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 13min
10. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 14min 2sec

Polka Dot Climber's Jersey: Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali)
Green Sprinter's Jersey:Robbie McEwen. Zabel and McEwen remain tied at 229 points each.
White Young Rider's Jersey: Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)

route, stage 15

Wednesday, July 24: Stage 16, Les Deux Alpes - La Plagne, 179.5 km.

Climbs that when you hear their names, evoke the Tour like no other words: Col du Galibier, Col du Telegraphe, Col de la Madeleine. This is really the Tour and it will be hard. There are 70.9 kilometers of Hors Category rated climbing.

The rated climbs:
Km 34.0: Col du Galibier, 33.8 km @ 4.7%, H.C.
Km 112.0: Col de la Madeleine, 19.4 km @ 7.9%, H.C.
Km 179.5: LA PLAGNE, 17.7 km @ 6.9%, H.C.

The Race: Stage 16 started with 162 riders and 7 complete teams, including Postal. The first climb, the Galibier, is the highest point of the Tour and has been used in 50 past Tours. It is very windy at the summit today.

Botero has good legs and went over the top alone. Here's how they went over the Galibier:

1. Botero (Kelme)
2. Bruseghin
3. Jalabert 15sec
4. Osa, 5. Boogerd, 6. Azevedo, 7. Nozal, 8. Sevilla, 9. Pradera
10. Mazzoleni @ 1 min
11. Hincapie, 12. Padrnos,13. Rubiera, 14. Armstrong, 15. Beloki

After the descent, a group of 4 got away: Fagnini, O'Grady, Boogerd and Hunter. Fagnini, Zabel's teammate getting in the break to keep a hard riding O'Grady from getting intermediate sprint points. O'Grady flew down the hill chasing Boogerd. The motorcycles couldn't keep up with the Aussie whose bike handling skills were on breathtaking display. At 50sec are: Serrano, Gutierrez, Jalabert, Merckx, Martinez, Dierckxsens, Mayo and Turpin.

At 3min 40sec is the Postal-led peloton.

That situaton stayed to the base of the Madeleine. O'Grady took the intermediate sprint from Fagnini who led out too early.

With about 7 kilometers to the top of the climb: Boogerd left his sprinters and has been riding the climb alone. At 2min 50sec is Jalabert, Mayo and a really suffering Turpin. The pack is at 8min 20sec. Both Dufeaux and Sevilla have abandoned.

Boogerd was the first over the Madeleine. It seemed that he stood up on the pedals most of the time he was on the climb. At 3min 15sec was the Jalabert group. Martinez manged to claw his way back so they went over as a group of 4 with Jalabert taking the 2nd place climber's points.

On the descent, O'Grady got back up to the Jalabert group. The pack crested the climb at 7min 43sec. Jimmy Casper has retired from the Tour.

After the descent off the Madeleine with 39 kilometers to go, Axel Merckx has caught the Jalabert group. Boogerd is still ahead of the Jalabert group by 3min 19sec, alone. The pack follows Boogerd by 7min 24 with Marcos Serrano between Jalabert and the pack.

With 27 kilometers to go, Postal is upping the pace of the pack with ONCE just sitting behind them. The pack is strung out single file and the gap is coming down.

12 kilometers to go: The climb has started to bite hard. Boogerd is ahead, still alone with Iban Mayo at 5min 20sec. Then there is Merckx, Jalabert and Turpin strung out and then a quickly shringing pack. Sastre attacked the Yellow Jersey pack and managed to catch Jalabert who was riding his own tempo to get to the top.

10 kilometers to go. Things have been cleaned up as the early breakaway riders are mopped up. It's Boogerd, then Sastre moving damn fast then the remains of the pack that has the heads of state, including: Armstrong, Beloki, Rubiera, Rumsas, Osa, Leipheimer, Botero, Azevedo and Moncoutie. Choo-Choo Rubiera (I know it's "Chechu", but if he's pulling this train of pros, he's "Choo-Choo" to me) is doing all the work with the others just sitting on.

5 kilometers to go. Boogerd ahead, Sastre at 2min 20sec. Heras is now at the lead of the pack that is 3 min 20 sec behing Boogerd: Heras, Armstrong, Beloki, Rumsas, Basso, Leipheimer and Azevedo.

4 kilometers to go. Armstrong, just sitting on Heras' wheel takes off. Rumsas is just behind him and like the others, can do nothing. The bird has flown and the 2 ONCE riders now work to limit the damge, but the gap just grows and Armstrong rides up towards Sastre.

Boogerd hangs on for the win. Armstrong catches Sastre and leads him to the finish. A couple of hundred yards from the line Sastre takes the lead. Sastre sits up to let Armstrong have 2nd place, but Armstrong pushes Sastre to 2nd.

Results for Stage 16:

1. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) 5hr 48min 29sec
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC Tiscali) @ 1min 25sec
3. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) s.t.
4. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 2min 2sec
5. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre-Daikin) @ s.t.
6. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 2min 10sec
7. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 2min 14sec
8. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) s.t.
9. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 2min 23sec
10. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 2min 25sec

GC after stage 16:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 68hr 43min 22sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 5min 6sc
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 7min 24sec
4. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 12min 8sec
5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 12min 12sec
6. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 12min 28sec
7. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 12min 37sec
8. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 12min 54sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 13min 58sec
10. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 15min 4sec

route, stage 16

Wednesday, July 25: Stage 17, Aime - Cluses, 142 km.

This final Alpine stage differs from the other mountain stages in that it is not a hill-top finish. An advantage gained on the Colombiere has to be held for 20 kilometers of descent.

The rated climbs:
Km 31.5: Cormet de Roselend, 19.1 km @ 5.9%, 1st Category
Km 70.0: Col des SAISIES, 15.3 km @ 6.0%, 1st Category
Km 96.5: Col des Aravis, 11.7 km @4.9%, 2nd Category
Km 121.5: Col de la Colombière, 11.8 km @ 5.6%, 1st Category

The Race: Stage 17 has started off with a flurry of attacks and very high speeds. Over the Roselend:

1. Mario Aerts (Lotto), Dario Frigo (Tacconi), Gutierrez (Kelme), Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel), Giuseppe Guerini (Telekom)

Then at 1min 15sec, a Jalabert-Sastre group of 7 with the peloton at 2min 25sec.

Then, over the Col des Saises: Frigo drove his group hard, taking long hard pulls, dropping Laiseka and Gutierrez. A trio ended up going over the top, Frigo, Guerini and Aerts, with Guerini looking the weakest and Frigo the most ambitious. Then Gutierrez followed at 1min 50sec, then the Jalabert-Sastre quintet. A 3rd group at 3min followed, then the peloton at 4min 5sec. Postal and Rabobank have been doing a lot of work at the front. This is the last high mountain stage and there are lots of riders who want to leave their mark on the race.

Climbing the Aravis, the Frigo trio is working well together. The chase group is coming apart. Jalabert has sat up and has done his work trying to get Sastre as much time as possible and as many climbing points for himself. The Polka-Dot jersey is almost surely his now. Laiseka is not the rider he was last year. The chase group caught him and spit him out the back. Postal is doing all the work at the front of the peloton.

Aerts leads Guerini and Frigo over the top of the Aravis. The Sastre group which includes Moncoutié, Sastre, Jaksche, Lefevre, Serrano,Osa, Nozal, Hushovd and Gutierrez follows at 3min 13sec. Then the peloton which has sucked up Jalabert with Armstrong at 7min 52sec.

Climbing the Colombiere, the Frigo group looks good and is working together. Sastre and Moncoutié are driving the chase group. Rabobank has come to the front of the peloton to defend Leipheimer's top 10 GC place.

25 km to go: Botero takes off from the very reduced peloton. He is pounding, out of the saddle and on the drops in his usual style. Azevedo chases and is caught, Postal with Hincapie at the front leads the pack. The Frigo trio continues to gain time. They're gone for the day.

1 km from the summit: The Frigo trio is still working together. I was expecting an attack much earlier. They go over together and haul down the other side of the Colombiere. It's going to come down to the descent and a sprint.

The Sastre-Moncoutié group goes over at 3min 25sec with Osa at about 10sec in front. Botero goes over at 4min 18sec. The pack led by Boogerd at 5min 22sec. Oops, Armstrong pips him. The crowds are huge and very close to the riders.

Aerts is descending like a maniac. Frigo can't keep up with the duo in front. On a straight section Frigo powers back on.

Aerts continues to use his superb handling skills to create gaps on Guerini and Frigo. Frigo uses his superior power to get back on dragging Guerini with him.

2 kilometers to go, the trio remains together. Frigo hasn't been afraid to work hard this close to the finish. Guerini attacks and then is caught. He goes again and is caught again. Aerts has closed the gap twice. Frigo seems confident and unworried.

Aerts leads it out, Frigo comes around easily by the right hand barriers, ducking hands and cameras for a hands off, sit-up win.

In the Sastre group, Botero has hammered his way up to them. Moncoutié has slipped off the front of this group and takes 4th place alone. Hushovd, closing fast, takes 5th.

Stage 17 results:

1. Dario Frigo (Tacconi) 4hr 2min 27sec
2. Mario Aerts (Lotto) s.t.
3. Giuseppe Guerini (Telekom) @ 2sec
4. David Moncoutie (Cofidis) @ 2min 55sec
5. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 2min 58sec
6. Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour) s.t.
7. Unai Osa (Ibanesto) s.t.
8. Marcos Serrano (ONCE) s.t.
9. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) s.t.
10. Carlos Sastre (CSC Tiscali) s.t.

GC after Stage 17:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 72hr 50min 25sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 5min 6sec
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 7min 24sec
4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 10min 59sec
5. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 12min 8sec
6. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 12min 12sec
7. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 12min 28sec
8. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 12min 54sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 13min 58sec
10. Carlos Sastre (CSC Tiscali) @ 14min 49sec

route, stage 17

Friday, July 26, Stage 18, Cluses - Bourg en Bresse, 176.5 km.

3 stages to go, this tough hilly stage in the French Jura, Saturday's time trial, and the ride into Paris on Sunday. Each one will give a victory to a different kind of rider. Today's stage will undoubtedly be a hammer-fest as riders, especially those shut out so far, do everything they can to get away and gain some glory for their sponsors and themselves. The Jura are moutains that are part of the Alpine system in the area between France and Switzerland. This is where the word "Jurassic" comes from.

The 7 rated climbs:
Km 41.0: Côte des Bois de Serves, 3.3 km climb at 3.3%, 3rd Category
Km 57.5: Côte de Marlioz, 3.0 km climb at 5.3%, 4th Category
Km 74.0: Côte de la Sémine, 4.1 km climb at 5.3%, 4th Category
Km 96.0: Col de Richemont, 12.8 km climb at 5.4%, 1st Category
Km 115.0: Col de la Cheminée, 3.5 km climb at 3.3%, 3rd Category
Km 137.0: Côte de Giriat, 2.8 km climb at 5.1%, 4th Category
Km 147.5: Col du Berthiand, 4.7 km climb at 6.0%, 2nd Category

The Race: Stage 18's real racing started at the 4th kilometer when a group of 10 broke away with a move of Leon Van Bon. The riders: Van Bon (Domo), Fagnini (Telekom), Jaksche (ONCE), Piil & Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Loda (Fassa Bortolo), Mengin (FDJ), Dekker (Rabobank) and Loder (AG2R).

They organised themselves and worked well together and established a good lead. At kilometer 112, after the 1st category Richemont, the lead which had been as large as almost 9 minutes was 7min 40sec. Lotto and Bonjour have been helping Postal in the chase.

At kilometer 129, the gap to the group of 10 remains 7min 38sec. It looks like Postal is doing all the work at the front.

The break stayed away with Loda coming off on the final climb, but managed to stay away from the pack until the end.

In the break, after the final climb, on an unrated rise, three riders, Hushovd, Piil and Mengin got away and got organized. Hushovd and Pill had pulled away from the group after a series of attacks and counter attacks. Only one of the remaining riders had the suds and awareness to get up. Mengin did a huge kilo and in a flash was with Pill and Hushovd. In the final sprint, Piil sitting third, pulled his cleat out of the pedal. Mengin forced Hushovd to lead it out. Agonizingly, Mengin was slowly pulling up next to Hushovd, but ran out of race before he passed the flying Scandinavian. The remnants of the break couldn't get organized for a while and were unable to bring them back and came in a half minute later. Robbie McEwen took the field sprint and the lead in the Points competition.

Results for stage 18:

1. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 4hr 28min 28sec
2. Christophe Mengin (FDJ) @ s.t.
3. Jakob Piil (CSC-Tiscali) @ 5sec
4. Leon van Bon (Domo) @ 33sec
5. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) s.t.
6. Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali) s.t.
7. Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom) @ 40sec
8. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) s.t.
9. Thierry Loder (AG2R) s.t.
10. Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) @ 6min 59sec

GC after Stage 18:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 77hr 30min 35sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 5min 6sec
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 7min 24sec
4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 10min 59sec
5. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 12min 6sec
6. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 12min 12sec
7. Francisco Mancebo (Ibanesto) @ 12min 28sec
8. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 12min 54sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 13min 58sec
10. Carlos Sastre (CSC Tiscali) @ 14min 49sec

Green Points Jersey: Robbie McEwen (Lotto) 239 points. Zabel is 2nd at 238.
Climber's Polka Dot Jersey: Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali)
Young Rider's White Jersey: Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo)

route, stage 18

Saturday, July 27: Stage 19, Regnie Durette - Macon, 50 km Individual Time Trial.

This will probably see some of the top-ten placings change a bit, but I think Armstrong's and Beloki's places are pretty firm. The big question is: Can a Botero that has really found his legs take 3 1/2 minutes out of Rumsas and get on the podium? He will have to catch and drop Rumsas to do it.

There is a 3rd category climb at kilometer 10 with a technical descent.

The riders will take off in 2-minute intervals until the final 32 riders. They will go off in 3-minute intervals. The first rider off, Igor Flores is the last man in GC, in 153rd. they will go in reverse GC order with Lance Armstrong leaving the start house at 4:20 PM local time (7:20 AM Pacific). I think it should take him about 1hr 6min to do the ride.

The climb:
Km 10.5: Côte du Fût d'Avenas, 7.2 km @ 4.4%, 3rd Category

The Race: Back in the 1970s we used to argue pedaling technique. Is it best to spin little gears or push big gears? Mr. Armstrong answered that question today. The proper technique when riding a time trial is to spin big gears. He fluidly powered his 55 x 11 at a slightly lower cadence than he did in the Stage 9 time trial, upping the speed when he learned that Rumsas was beating him at the first time split. Raimondas Rumsas had the fastest time at the first check point and he was all over his bike, thumping away for all he had to try to take 2nd place in GC from Beloki. Another Deda bar came loose this Tour. His bars came loose with 40 kilometers to go and he couldn't pull up on the bars. Might he have challenged Armstrong with a properly working bike? We'll never know.

Santiago Botero showed the effect of reclaiming a lot of lost time with his gutsy, aggresive riding in the Alps. The Stage 9 ITT winner could only manage an 8th today. Levi Leipheimer's excellent ride moved him up from 9th to 8th in GC.

The crowds on the climb were huge. It looked like the narrow defile at the top of a high Alpine stage as the riders threaded their way through a narrow slot between the race fans.

Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel didn't waste any energy on the time trial. The fight for the green jersey comes down to the final stage. Zabel was 97th at 7min 33sec and McEwen took it even easier, 149th out of 153, down 10min 15sec.

Stage 19 results:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 1hr 3min 50sec (47.00kph)
2. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 53sec
3. Lazlo Bodrogi (Mapei) @ 1min 6sec
4. David Millar (Cofidis) @ 1min 14sec
5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 1min 42sec
6. Serhey Honchar (Fassa Bortolo) @ 1min 43sec
7. Raivis Belohvosicks (Lampre) @ 2min 9sec
8. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 2min 11sec
9. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 2min 11sec
10. Victor Hugo Pena (US Postal) @ 2min 29sec
11. Tyler Hamilton (CSC Tiscali) @ 2min 46sec
14. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 3min 13sec

GC after Stage 19:

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 7min 17sec
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 8min 17sec
4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 13min 10sec
5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 13min 54sec
6. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 15min 44sec
7. Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto) @ 16min 5sec
8. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 17min 11sec
9. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 17min 18sec
10. Carlos Sastre (CSC-Tiscali) @ 19min 5sec

route, stage 19

Sunday, July 28: 20th and Final Stage, Melun - Paris Champs Elysées, 140 km.

Almost everything is sewn up: GC, Young rider, Team GC, Climber's competition. But the second most prestigious competition, that for the Sprinter's Green jersey, is oh, so close. Lotto's Robbie McEwen has 239 points and the lead. Telekom's Erik Zabel has 238 points.

The riders will do a promenade to Paris , often drinking champagne and joking. They get down to business and do 10 laps up and down the Champs Elysees. There are 2 intermediate sprints that have points in the green Jersey Competiion in addition to the final sprint for the stage win. The first is at km 54, outside Paris and the second is on the first lap on the Champs.

The other teams may have fun and enjoy a high speed criterium in the world's most beautiful city. But for Lotto and Telekom, it's still hard, serious busness. McEwen is consistently showing more speed than Zabel. Zabel still has a complete team with his lead-out ace Fagnini and is usually a master in timing his effort. Lotto is down to 7 riders.

The Race: Weather for Stage 20: Hot and sunny. In Paris at 1:30 PM local time it was 31C (88F) and hotter at the start in Melun. There is a very light 3mph (5kph) breeze from the ESE.

Ho-ho, the racing has started at last. Robbie McEwen took the 1st intermediate sprint and Zabel was 2nd. McEwen now leads Zabel by 3 points in the Green Jersey competition. After the 1st sprint, the Postal team went to the front to lead the peloton into Paris, and it was 3 Posties, Heras, Landis and Joachim that took the 2nd intermediate sprint points.

There were lots of flat tires during this stage. One cheeky move got off the front with about 6 laps to go. Rumsas joined a 12 man group that got 37 seconds on the field. Of course, ONCE went to the front to snuff that move to protect Beloki's 2nd place. In the end it was all together for a big sprint. McEwen took it and denied Herr Zabel his 7th Green Jersey.

That makes 4 Tours and 15 stage wins for the most deliberate and intelligent racer to race the Tour. Someone said that the will to win is common, we all have that. It's the will to prepare that is so rare. It's that will to prepare that sets Armstrong apart from the other physically gifted Tour contenders.

Average speed for this year's Tour: 39.920 kph, the 4th fastest in Tour history. The fastest was Armstrong's 1999 win with an average speed of 40.276 kph.

Results for Stage 20:

1. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) 3hr 30min 47sec
2. Baden Cooke (FDJ)
3. Damien Nazon (Bonjour)
4. Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo)
5. Davide Casarotto (Alessio)
6. Stuart O'grady (Credit Agricole)
7. Erik Zabel (Telekom)
8. Jan Svorada (Lampre)
9. Arvis Piziks (CSC Tiscali)
10. Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) All Same time.

Final GC for the 2002 Tour de France:
Complete Final 2002 Tour de France General Classification

1. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 3,277.5km in 82hr 5min 12sec
2. Joseba Beloki (ONCE) @ 7min 17sec
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lampre) @ 8min 17sec
4. Santiago Botero (Kelme) @ 13min 10sec
5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) @ 13min 54sec
6. Jose Azevedo (ONCE) @ 15min 44sec
7. Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto) @ 16min 5sec
8. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) @ 17min 11sec
9. Roberto Heras (US Postal) @ 17min 12sec
10. Carlos Sastre (CSC-Tiscali) @ 19min 5sec
11. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 19min 18sec
12. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 20min 33sec
13. David Moncoutie (Cofidis) @ 21min 8sec
14. Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis) @ 27min 51sec
15. Tyler Hamilton (CSC Tiscali) @ 28min 36sec
16. Richard Virenque (Domo) @ 29min 42sec
153. Igor Flores (Euskaltel), last place. @ 3hr 35min 52sec

Green Points Jersey:

1. Robbie McEwen (Lotto), 280 points
2. Erik Zabel (Telekom) 261
3. Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) 208
4. Baden Cooke (FDJ) 198

Polka Dot Climber's Jersey:

1. Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali) 262 points
2. Mario Aerts (Lotto) 178
3. Santiago Botero (Kelme) 162
4. Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 159

Young Rider's White Jersey:

1. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) 82hr 24min 30sec
2. Nicolas Vogondy (FDJ) @ 13min 26sec
3. Christophe Brandt (Lotto) @ 48min 32sec

Team GC:

1. ONCE 246hr 36min 14sec
2. US Postal @ 22min 49sec
3. CSC Tiscali @ 30min 17sec
4. IBanesto @ 34min 6sec


1. Laurent Jalabert (CSC Tiscali) 100 points
2. Franck Renier (Bonjour) 50
3. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 35
4. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) 33

route, stage 20

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Race details:

Thursday, October 25, 2001. The Tour de France has revealed the course for the 2002 Tour, one of the shortest in Tour history. It will run counter-clock-wise starting in Luxembourg, with the climbing stages concentrated in the second half of the race. They will cross the Pyrenees before hitting the Alps.

Some TDF 2002 details:

Running from Saturday July 6th to Sunday July 28th, the 2002 Tour de France will be made up of one prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,300 kilometres.
These 20 stages have the following profiles:

* 10 flat stages
* 1 medium mountain stage
* 6 high mountain stages
* 2 individual time-trial stages
* 1 team time-trial stage
* 5 mountain finishes
* 2 rest days
* 108 kilometres of individual time-trials
* 68 kilometres of team time-trials
* 1 transfer by plane and 1 by train (TGV)
* 21 Category 1, Category 2 and highest level passes will be climbed.
* 8 new stop-over towns: Sarrebruck, Château-Thierry, Saint-Martin-de-Landelles, Bazas, Lavelanet, Vaison-la-Romaine, Bourg-en-Bresse, Régnié-Durette.

Teams: Last update, July 4, 2002.

Here are the teams for the 2002 Tour de France in alphabetical order with their provisional startlists. As the rosters are fluid, many of the riders listed reasonable guesses. Nothing is firm until they roll July 6. The numbers for the team budgets are courtesy Velonews.

Ag2R Prevoyance. Budget, $3.2 million. A wild card selection. Jaan Kirsipuu, Christophe Agnolutto, Stephane Berges, Alexandre Botcharov, Inigo Chaurreau, Andy Flickinger, Thierry Loder, Christophe Oriol, Ludovic Turpin.

Alessio. Budget $2.8 million. Andrea Brognara, Stefano Casagranda, Davide Casarotto, Laurent Dufeaux, Ivan Gotti, Martin Hvastija, Ruslan Ivanov, Cristian Moreni, Alexsandr Shefer.

IBanesto. Budget $4.9 million. Dariusz Baranowski, Santiago Blanco, Mario Bruseghin, Vincente Garcia Acosta, David Latasa, Francisco Mancebo, Denis Menchov, Unai Osa, Javier Pascual Rodriguez

Bonjour. Budget $3.4 million. Walter Beneteau, Franck Bouyer, Sylvain Chavanel, Emmanuel Mangien, Damien Nazon, Didier Rous, Jerome Pineau, Franck Renier, Francois Simon.

Cofidis. Budget $4.9 million. Daniel Atienza, Inigo Cuesta, Bingen Fernandez, Andrei Kivilev, Massimilano Lelli, Nico Mattan, David Millar, David Moncoutie, Jo Planckaert, Cedri Vasseur.

Credit Agricole. Budget $5 million. Christophe Moreau, Frederic Bessy, Sebastien Hinault, Thor Hushovd, Anthony Langella, Anthony Morin, Stuart O'Grady, Jonathan Vaughters, Jens Voigt.

CSC- Tiscali. $5.6 million. Tyler Hamilton, Laurent Jalabert, Carlos Sastre, Nicki Sorensen, Andrea Peron, Jakob Piil, Arvis Piziks, Michael Sanstod, Paul Van Hyfte .

Domo. Budget $6.3 million. Dave Bruylandts, Enrico Cassani, Tomas Konecny, Axel Merckx, Servais Knaven, Fred Rodriguez, Leon Van Bon, Richard Virenque, Piotr Wadecki.

Euskaltel. Budget $2.8 million. Gorka Arrizabalaga, David Etxebarria, Unai Etxebarria, Igor Flores, Gorka Gonzalez, Roberto Laiseka, Iban Mayo, Samuel Sanchez, Haimar Zubaldia.

Fassa Bortolo. Budget $5.8 million. Fabio Baldato, Ivan Basso, Wladimir Belli, Serhiy Honchar, Sergei Ivanov, Nicola Loda, Oscar Pozzi, Marco Velo, Marco Zanotti. (was Francaise des Jeux). Budget $3.2 million. Sandy Cesar, Baden Cooke, Jimmy Casper, Jacky Durand, Frederic Guesdon, Brad McGee, Christophe Mengin, Jean-Cyril Robin, Nicolas Vogondy.

Jean Delatour. Wildcard replacement for Saeco after Saeco's invitation was withdrawn following Gilberto Simoni's cocaine "non-negative" in the Giro. Stephane Auge, Jerome Bernard, Laurent Brochard, Cyril Dessel, Christophe Edalaine, Stephane Goubert, Patrice Halgand, Laurent Lefevre, Eddy Seigneur.

Kelme. Budget $3.5 million. Santiago Botero, Francisco Cabello, Jose Javier Gomez, Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Santiago Perez, Oscar Sevilla, Antonio Tauler, Jose Angel Vidal.

Lampre. Budget $4.2 million. Rubens Bertogliati, Alessandro Cortinovis, Ludo Dierckxsens, Luciano Pagliarini, Marco Pinotti, Raimondas Rumsas, Marco Serpellini, Jan Svorada

Lotto. Budget $3.3 million. Mario Aerts, Serge Baguet, Christophe Brandt, Hans de Clercq, Thierry Marichal, Robbie McEwen, Guennadi Mikhailov, Rik Verbrugge, Aart Vierhouten.

Mapei. Budget $6.9 million. Laszlo Bordrogi, Oscar Freire, Pedro Horillo, Robert Hunter, Miguel MArtinez, Tom Steels, Andrea Tafi Gerhard Trampusch, Fabien de Waele

ONCE. Budget $4.2 million. Joseba Beloki, Jose Azevedo, Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, Jorg Jaksche, Isidro Nozal, Abraham Olano, Mikel Pradera, Marco Serrano.

Rabobank. $3.7 million. Michael Boogerd, Bram De Groot, Erik Dekker, Addy Engels, Karsten Kroon, Levi Leipheimer, Grischa Nierman, Marc Wauters, Beat Zberg.

Tacconi. Budget $2.8 million. Massimom Appollonio, Gianluca Bortolami, Paolo Bossoni, Massimo Donati, Diego Ferarri, Dario Frigo, Andreij Hauptmann, Peter Luttenberger, Eddy Mazzoleni.

Telekom. Budget $4.3 million. Udo Bolts, Gian Matteo Fagnini, Giuseppe Guerini, Danilo Hondo, Bobby Julich, Kevin Livinston, Steffen Wesemann, Erik Zabel.

US Postal. Budget $5.6 million. Lance Armstrong, Viatcheslav Ekomov, Roberto Heras, George Hincapie, Benoit Joachim, Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrno, Victor Hugo Pena, Jose Rubiera.

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