July 20 - Stage 13: Lavelanet - Béziers: 171 km
Stage profile here.
This one starts out bumpy before heading into a long flat, which will be a welcome respite for the peloton after two hard days in the Pyrenees, and before heading into the Alps. With the hills out of the way within the first 70 km, the long run-in to Beziers should give the sprinters' teams enough time to reel in any breaks that get off on the climbs, and we should see a pitched battle for green as Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen, separated by only one point, go head to head in a stampede for the line.
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Joining the action in France, the leading group has 8.20 on the Peloton and includes: Laurent Jalabert (CST), Bobby Julich (TEL), Laurent Brochard (DEL), David Millar (COF), Michael Boogerd (RAB), Miguel Martinez (MAP), David Latasa (BAN), Javier Pascual Rodriguez (BAN), David Etxebarria (EUS), Eddy Mazzoleni (TAC), Beat Zberg (RAB).
Laurent Jalabert has scored all of the mountains points available in this stage, stretching his lead in that competition by another 25 points. The breakaway sucked down the first intermediate sprint points today without a battle, the honors going to Boogerd, Julich and Extebarria.
The break has 9'43" with 75 km to go.
Laurent Jalabert is the most dangerous rider in the break at over 17 minutes down.
US Postal leads the peloton, but they have no real reason to chase this break hard. It will be up to the sprinters to reel this one back: Telecom and Lotto.
Laurent Jalabert wears the polka dot KOM jersey, and the red number of the most aggressive rider. His lead in both competitions is commanding. US Postal still leads the peloton. No time check.
The lead is up to 11 minutes.
McEwen must finish two placings ahead of Zabel today to take back the green jersey.
It's a very hot day at Le Tour. Lance Armstrong said yesterday that the heat is taking its toll on many riders.
I am happy to be joined here by my colleague Anita van Crey.
Current gap 12 minutes. The peloton looks like it's on a pleasant enough club ride. Less than 50 k. to go for the breakaways. The smallest guy on the peloton, Miguel Martinez, is working hard.
It's always hard to tell if Laurent Jalabert is suffering or not, he always looks the same. The gap keeps on growing.
Finish is a bit uphill, good for Zabel, but also for McEwen.
Gap keeps on developing, almost 13 minutes now... Boogerd is one who will like that pretty much when he still has an eye on the overall. But since Leipheimer is much more focusing on that and needs the team for help in achieving it, Boogerd (and for that matter Zberg too) are concentrating more on a stage win.
About the sickbay: Michael Sandstod still has problems breathing after his fall in the descent of the Aubisque, where he broke some ribs (one of which punctered his lung, the lung that now is malfunctioning).
It's very hot in France, which means an added difficulty for tomorrow's stage up the Ventoux.
Zabel suffered a puncture, and is working his way back to the peloton, passing all the team cars...
Zabel in his attempt is joined by Aussie Baden Cooke.
Break is 13'25".
US Postal is lifting the tempo at the front. They won't catch it, but they will close down the time a bit. ONCE is massed behind Armstrong in his yellow jersey.
After his 15th place in the last Giro, Mazzoleni now rides his second big tour this year.
Laurent Jalabert is riding an aggressive race, he has led the charge in a leading breakaway for round about 450 km.
Kelme is now having a drink-break, Jose Enrique Guttierez is putting a lot of drinking bottles under his shirt to give to his teammates.
Jalabert improves his general, he was about 17 minutes behind on Armstrong. Time gap is 13'45". Mazzoleni picks up the sprint points.
Belohvosciks is now helping US Postal up front in the bunch. Lampre moves forward to help with the pacemaking to protect Rumsas's fourth place. Pascual and Martinez got second and third at the bonus sprint.
Brad McGee has been back visiting the doctor's car, and Karsten Kroon has a back wheel puncture. McGee has to let the bunch go, Kroon now has again to try and retrieve the peloton.
Break holding steady at 13"45'
After two very very difficult stages for the stage winner of Rabobank, he will have to look deep inside himself for extra powers. 30 km to ride.
Mazzoleni comes from Bergamo, Italy, a place where the Italians say about the guys who come from there, that they can ride but not think...
Jonathan Vaughters apparently does not like racing anymore, he stops with riding a bike as from now on and will return to the states to pick up his education...
Seems like Kroon is back in the bunch again! How much willpower does he have...seems to have rubbed off from Erik Dekker.
Postal has stopped doing the work. Lampre takes over. Break is down to 13'33".
The breakaway is 10 km in front of the peloton. US Postal is happy to sit behind Lampre.
Stephane Berges is the Lantern Rouge...the last rider in the race. He is nearly two hours behind race leader Lance Armstrong.
The bunch seems to be takin' it easy today...no real determination to catch the breakaways.
Perhaps Armstrong, who yesterday called Laurent Jalabert a great champion, is happy to see Jaja make up time on the GC.
Looks like Jalabert is getting most popular in his last year of racing. I think this is sort of a present from Armstrong to Jalabert.
Still a mighty gap - there seem to be a big bush on fire near the roads of today's stage....one big bbq for all?
Laurent Jalabert is now in fourth place on the road.
Current gap: 12.21 - There may be some attacks on the way...
16 k. to go. The winner of this breakaway is hard to predict. Lots of curves and so on to keep out of sight.
An uphill finish may make for a good solo win!
This weather is sooo different from the weather of the stagewin of Boogerd some years ago. He did win in Aix-les-Bains.....where it rained more than cats and dogs.
Things are picking up in the break...Millar attacks, Boogerd and Etxebarria follow. Brochard is there too. And one rider of Banesto.
The break is splitting...
Millar, Brochard, Pascual, Extebarria Boogerd, Javier Pascual...
Boogerd attacks - six men are chasing... Jaja won't lay down easy. Mazzoleni is chasing too. Zberg is not giving Jaja a helping hand...Julich, Jalabert are chasing... no help will come from Beat Zberg with Boogerd in the lead.
Julich followed Jaja and missed the break!
Boogerd is driving the break hard.
Brochard looks very fit, Millar is riding at ease but does not have such a good sprint as the former World Champion (born in Le Mans) of San Sebastian has. With 11 k. to go the gap is still 11 minutes to the bunch.
Jaja's group is behind by 27"
10 km to go!
Now no one in the first group has a teammate present, they all do their job. In the second group Beat Zberg rides up front, setting the (low) pace. Mazzoleni comes back to 10". Jaja is getting closer.
Millar is looking very comfortable. He could go for it today.
Bezier is in sight. There's a bit of a climb to the finish line.
A bit more than 7 k. to ride. The gap stays the same. Etxebarria and Boogerd and Millar all won their stages...
Brochard should be fined for that hair.
Boogerd seems to be as nervous as he is always in this kind of situation. There seems to be not really a reason to get nervous, he has enough quality within to try and win.
Mazzoleni and Pascual at 40 seconds.
The gap from Jaja, Zberg, Julich and Martinez is one minute. The race commissars are letting the team cars of the leaders through.
Etxebarria is not taking over in the breakaway group, saving up on his strength.
Brochard accelerates, and is quickly marked by Millar and Boogerd.
Some big curves and rond points coming up.
Etxebarria tries again.
At 600 metres before the finish line there is another rond point, nice thing in the last k.
3 km. Extebarria, Millar, look strong, responding immediately to Brochard's attck. Brochard tries again and is quickly caught.
Brochard goes for a third time!
Etxebarria sure will try to retrieve a third stage win, in one of his others he did win a cow, the cow now lives in the Spanish Basque region...
2 k. to go, the five get more and more nervous. Brochard tries again! There is a HUGE crowd.
Boogerd is nailing him down... Extebarria right on them.
Llatasa of iBanesto goes... Millar is after him. Extebarria follows too. He's back in the fold.
Etxebarria second, Brochard third!
The bunch still has 5 k. to ride.
Results of the lead group:
1. MILLAR David (GBR, COF) 74. at 00:50:20
2. BOOGERD Michaël (NED, RAB) 40. at 00:23:08
3. LATASA David (ESP, BAN) 80. at 00:53:00
4. ETXEBARRIA David (ESP, EUS) 86. at 00:54:57
5. BROCHARD Laurent (FRA, DEL) 46. at 00:26:19
6. PASCUAL Javier (ESP, BAN) 84. at 00:54:44
7. MAZZOLENI Eddy (ITA, TAC) 114. at 01:11:23
The battle over the green jersey continues, Zabel has a 1 point lead over McEwen.
8. JULICH Bobby (USA, TEL) 44. at 00:25:29
9. JALABERT Laurent (FRA, CST) 31. at 00:17:43
10. ZBERG Beat (SUI, RAB) 36. at 00:19:41
11. MARTINEZ Miguel (FRA, MAP) 72. at 00:49:35
McEwen is closing on the wheel of Zabel's bike.
Boogerd comments: "I rode a good race, but they were faster in the sprint. I had good legs, Van Houwelingen told me to try and join a breakaway."
Hushovd pulls the sprint for O'Grady.
Millar is the first British road stage win since Sciandri - though he was riding on an Italian passport then.
Hondo takes over. Svorada comes too. Zabel got beaten by McEwen, they both now have equal points for the green jersey. Cooke wins the sprint of the bunch, before McEwen and Zabel.
Cooke took 12th place.
Correction on the Stage Result (from the homepage of le Tour):
1 MILLAR David GBR COF en 4h 08' 18"
2 ETXEBARRIA David ESP EUS à 00' 00"
3 BOOGERD Michaël NED RAB à 00' 00"
4 BROCHARD Laurent FRA DEL à 00' 00"
5 LATASA David ESP BAN à 00' 04"
6 PASCUAL Javier ESP BAN à 00' 56"
7 MAZZOLENI Eddy ITA TAC à 00' 56"
8 MARTINEZ Miguel FRA MAP à 01' 06"
9 ZBERG Beat SUI RAB à 01' 06"
10 JULICH Bobby USA TEL à 01' 08"
11 JALABERT Laurent FRA CST à 01' 10"
12 COOKE Baden AUS FDJ à 09' 56"
13 MC EWEN Robbie AUS LOT à 09' 56"
14 ZABEL Erik GER TEL à 09' 56"
15 O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A à 09' 56"
16 SVORADA Jan SLO LAM à 09' 56"
17 HINAULT Sébastien FRA C.A à 09' 56"
18 PIIL Jakob DEN CST à 09' 56"
19 TAFI Andrea ITA MAP à 09' 56"
20 AGNOLUTTO Christophe FRA A2R à 09' 5
1 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP en 51h 06' 01"
2 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE à 02' 28"
3 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONE à 03' 19"
4 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM à 05' 15"
5 BOTERO Santiago COL KEL à 05' 44"
6 SERRANO Marcos ESP ONE à 07' 14"
7 HERAS Roberto ESP USP à 08' 01"
8 AZEVEDO José POR ONE à 08' 24"
9 JALABERT Laurent FRA CST à 08' 57"
10 SEVILLA Oscar ESP a 9' 05"
11 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN à 09' 10"
12 SASTRE Carlos ESP CST à 09' 52"
13 LEIPHEIMER Levy USA RAB à 10' 41"
14 ZBERG Beat SUI RAB à 10' 51"
15 MONCOUTIE David FRA COF à 11' 10"
16 MERCKX Axel BEL DFF à 11' 26"
17 KIVILEV Andrei KAZ COF à 11' 39"
18 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS à 12' 29"
19 NOZAL Isidro ESP ONE à 12' 39"
20 BOOGERD Michaël NED RAB à 12' 58
This concludes our live coverage for today's stage. Thank you for joining us! And we think you will definitely want to join us tomorrow for the famous Ventoux! See you then!