Welcome to the Daily Peloton's live reporting of Stage 14. Be sure to refresh this page (F5) to see the latest details, which are posted at the bottom of this story.
We join events in progress!
We join this stage with a breakaway group with 11 riders,
leading gap 10.30".
The eleven riders are: Mikel Pradera (Once), Thor
Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Anthony Morin (Credit Agricole), Richard Virenque (Domo), Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo), Dariusz Baranowski (iBanesto), Marco Serpellini (Lampre), Alexandre Botcharov (Ag2R), Cristian Moreni (Alessio), Stephane Auge (Jean Delatour),
and Christophe Edaleine (Jean Delatour).
Of the riders in the front only Richard Virenque has
previously won a stage in the Tour de France. He won 4 stages: in 1994 Luz Ardiden, in 1995
Cauterets, in 1997 Courchevel and 2000 Morzine.
The average speed in the first hour was 44.9 kmh, in the
second hour riders rode 43.7 kmh.
The name Mont Ventoux literally means "mountain where the
wind always blows." Hushovd won the second bonus sprint, the first one was won by Morin.
Serpelini and Pradera do not do their job in the
breakaway, mainly due by their team leaders (respectively, Rumsas and Beloki) are in 4th and 2nd place
Rabobank is taking up their responsibility in the front
of the bunch.
The peloton is setting the pace a little faster, to make
sure they keep the leading group in reach.
Will Armstrong try to win this stage too and make up for
his loss against Pantani in the stage last held on this mountain?
Or will he just concentrate on the overall?
Armstrong still has the competition in mind, and his main
goal is being on the highest step on the podium in Paris.
The current gap is now for the first time back under 10
Looks like Virenque already went away, together with
Hushovd and Botcharov.
Will this be a smart decision, or would they have better
used the strengths too of the other riders?
Seems the bunch is increasing the pace once again, with
CSC and Rabobank in the front. Lampre isn't doing any work.
Tomorrow there will be a press conference which will
reveal some more of the new Quickstep team.
Along the sides of the roads there are a lot people,
mainly cheering on Jalabert. Every free spot on the Ventoux is taken over since yesterday afternoon by campers and tents and cycling tourists...
Still about 30 k. to race to the bottom of the climb.
The peloton is now taking their task seriously to try and
retrieve the leaders in the front.
It sure is a historical climb, with as a sad high the
death of Tommy Simpson in 1967.
They will pass his monument at about 2 km. from the
finish line. Morin (one of the riders in the front) had to answer the call of nature, but now rejoined his companions in the lead.
Former Olympic champion Vatcheslav Ekimov now is giving
all his best up front in the bunch. He sure sets the pace a little (as in understatement...)higher.
Current gap 9.42'.
Jalabert and Armstrong both are now in the front of the
CSC starts to accelerate, with Piziks and Van Hyffte
giving all for their leader Jalabert.
It's the 12th time the Ventoux is in a stage, the sixth
time they will finish on the top.
Its not only climbers who do well here, when the
finish line was in Carpentras some years ago, non and total non-climber Eros Poli won the stage over this historical mountain. The climb is many times described as THE toughest, mainly due to not having any warmup climbs before attacking this Giant of the Provence.
The climb has a lot of history, a lot of nicknames and a
lot to tell about, as you can read in Podofdonny's preview of this stage listed as a "Related Article' at the bottom of this page.
Jalabert looking good, especially when you think
of all the k. he rode in a breakaway: he now comes to a total of 429 km.
The riders in the front now see the terible ending of
this joyful day lying ahead of them, the treeless top shimmering in the sun.
Current gap now is below nine minutes: 8.50.
Best climbers in the front are Richard Virenque and
Alexandre Bobo Botcharov.
Domo's assistant team director Wilfried Peeters (ex-pro) is telling that Virenque is very much nervous and very much fears the climbing skills of the Russian rider of AG2R.
Domo sends his guys to the lines up front too, Eddy's son
Axel is joined by Van Bon. This Leon van Bon at home has a dog, a Saint Bernard as huge as the bike he rides on today...
Still 6 k to ride to the bottom of the climb.
The riders in the break are - Darius Baranowski (Pol) Ibanesto.Com, Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre, Alexandr Bocharov (Rus) AG2R, Stephane Augé (Fra) Jean Delatour,
Christophe Edalaine (Fra) Jean Delatour, Christian Moreni (Ita) Alessio, Mikel Pradera (Spa) ONCE, Thor Hushovd (Nor) CA, Anthony Morin (Fra) CA, Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo,
Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo.
Bocharov has been nick named "Lucien" after the famous climber Lucien Van Impe by his team mates.
The riders now do not even stop to have a sanatiry
break...they stay on their bike and perform that way... stopping yesterday resulted in a big fine for Boogerd...
Morin for the second time this stage has to stop along
the side of the road, seems to be suffering some digestive problems.
Current gap 8.10".
Serpelini consistent in driving all the way in the back.
Gap now down to 8.06". The leaders are 5k from the foot of the Mont-Ventoux, and still more than 8 minutes ahead of the peloton.
Hushovd too is a former world champion, he won the
timetrial in Valkenburg in 1999.
The riders now are very close to the little town Bedoin,
where the ascent of the Giant starts. Virenque knows he has a big chance in winning, a fact which makes him more and more nervous!
The bunch reached the 25k to go mark.
7.58 the gap now as the riders are on the lower foothills of cruel Ventoux.
The climbing has started, the steeper parts still to
Current gap 7.49".
Current temperature 30 degrees Celsius...in the shade. But at the top there are some winds....hopefully not the
fastest measured there...300 kmh.
The riders look extremely hot - but the escapees
have an air of desparation about them while Morin tries to pull away.
The way the gap develops MUST lead to a win for one of the 10 now in the front.
Moreni escapes, Auge and Edalaine not able to follow, as
well as Velo and the big Viking from Norway Thor Hushovd.
Moreni is pulled back straight away but his
acceleration has split the escapees.
Botcharov weighs only 53 kilos which makes the rider
from Irkoetsk the lightest one in the bunch.
Gap now down to 7.13.
Postal now lead the peloton. 6 men in the leading group. Hincapie hands over the lead in the bunch. Armstrong has
already given the command to increase the speed. Is Armstrong able to join all up front...or does he let this victory be someone else's? ONCE is nowhere to be seen in the front.
16 k to go.
Current gap 6.55". Baranowski accealerates, who will follow? Moreni has to let the others go. Pradera and Serpelini now can use the strengths they have saved in not working with the others in the breakaway.
News from the back of the bunch: Jalabert is not able to
follow and let go.
Baranowski still setting the pace.
There are now five men in the lead: Baranowski, Serpelini, Botcharov, Pradera and Virenque.
On the back of the bunch a lot of riders suffer some
major problems already. One by one they have to let the bunch go.
Armstrong - third back in the peloton takes a drink - it looks very warm today.
The riders at this moment still have some trees
surrounding them...Baranowski still setting the pace for the escapees.
The Postal-led peloton is shedding riders like a
badly loaded lorry.
Huge crowds found their way to Mont Ventoux today
(or better said, yesterday, when the place already was filled up with campers, tents and people
trying to win in their ascent of this mountain.).
German climber Jaksche too has, as well as Dario Frigo,
to let the bunch go.
Botcharov takes off. Virenque and Pradera try to follow the Russian.
Baranowski rides for iBanesto - he won the tour of
Poland five years running and is a very tough rider.
Virenque is best placed on the GC but none of the
escapees are a threat on the overall.
Another rider still present in the lead is Serpellini of
the Lampre team.
Still over 13 k. to climb, Christophe Moreau loses
contact with the Armstrong group, which is still a big group.
Moreau is now in trouble he slips off the back
of the bunch.
All riders in the front now have their shirts wide open,
their bodies screaming for more and more water. Rubiera takes over the lead in the Landis bunch, at the tail of this group Brochard is not able to follow this pace.
Just 4 men left at the front: Pradera, Virenque,
Baranowski and Serpellini.
Basso is present too in the group Armstrong, the Italian
rider for the Fassa Bortoloteam is wearing the white jersey, he is is the best young rider in this tour. Azevedo leaves the group Armstrong, Botcharov and
Virenque do the same in the lead.
Current gap with 12 k to go a little more than 5 minutes
for the Frenchman and Russian in the lead.
The Once have attacked the peloton!
Botero, Rumsas and Beloki now know the sight of
Armstrong's back of the head. Julich is dropped, IGG just fell off the back.
Azevedo is captured again by the group Armstrong (Rumsas,
Beloki and Basso present there too).
Still have a looong looong way to go, no easy day at the
office with this heat...
Virenque and Bocharov push on at the front with 11
kms to go.
Tomasz Konecny too has to let the peloton go, as well as
his teammate Axel Merckx. The ones who can not keep up with the pace the man from Austin demands, try to re-find their own pace and reach the summit.
The peloton has exploded in the heat - Virenque
now attacks at the front. Virenque leaves his compatriot behind.
Virenque, dancing on the pedals , his shirt wide
open...the French housewives and other girlies will be happy if he pulls this ride off.
What will go on in the head of Virenque, once the most
popular Frenchman on a bike, wanted so badly the white with dots jersey.....but is sort of blown away in all this by a guy called Laurent Jalabert.
ONCE are putting the pressure on the Armstrong
group. The group Amrstrong does not contest Heras, only Chechu Rubiera, who has to let go too.
Azevedo sets the pace, the man in yellow easily follows,
as well as Joseba Beloki, Raimundas Rumsas and Ivan Basso.
Current gap Virenque-Armstrong 4 minutes and 45 seconds.
Heras off the back looking very uncomfortable, Azevedo is doing great work for his captain. With 9.5 k to go the gap now drops fast.
Armstrong smartly uses the both ONCEs to help him a bit.
Armstrong looks composed, but has been riding out
of the saddle for the last two kilometres. Virenque - "Spotted Dick" himself - continues to
dance up the hill.
Botero, currently fifth, does not have a swell day and
probably will lose lots of time. His teammate and Spanish hope Oscar Sevilla just passed him by.
Auge, once present in the breakaway group, tries to keep up with the group Armstrong when they pass him by. So is Marco Velo, trying to hold on to the pace Lance sets.
Rumsas is riding side by side with Armstrong - as
they catch Velo - will he be able to hang on and help Basso?
Virenque's lead increases to 4.49".
Still the ONCE try to force the pace and break
Armstrong - Beloki said he would attack and they are doing their best to break the big Texan.
Mancebo of Banesto is able to rejoin the Armstrong
group...a fact which makes clear the pace is not that fast at all and is allowing Virenque to increase his lead k after k.
Dancing on the pedals, sitting down in the saddle,
checking out his bike, Virenque still looks nervous, not reassured by his gap of over 5 minutes.
The riders are still in the pine trees there is a
long way to go - once they come to the exposed rocks higher up the temperatures will soar, making it difficult to breathe - never mind race...
Stephane Auge tried bravely but now has to let Armstrong
go, Leipheimer and Gotti find their way back to the jellow jerseys group. Beloki attacks!!!!! Armstrong counters.
When Leipheimer can stay, can find his pace to be the
best here, he sure improoves in the overall.
Armstrong is away - who can respond? Armstrong is powering up the climb - he is extremely fast.
Armstrong decides enough is enough, the Austin version of
the French high-speed-train TGV is eating his opponents like he is Pacman. Will he reach as far as Virenque, winning his third mountain stage? The current gap is 4.34, to be closed down in a bit more than 8 k.
Current gap 3.56.
The closing down of the gap shows that the man from
Austin wants to win this one too. He has less than 6 k to achieve this goal. Armstrong is powering his way through the last of the wooded section - he will be on the bizarre lunar landscape that is the legend of cruel Ventoux.
It looks like the gap is too big to close in the k to
ride. Armstrong storms the top, pacing as fast as the winds
blowing around the summit.
The crowds are enormous - the ONCE did try to break Armstrong but he has simply out gunned them and now he is chasing down Virenque.
Current gap of 3.50 looks to be enough for Virenque to
secure his win at 4 k from the finish line.
Botcharov and the others remaining in the group are
easily picked up by the flying 3 times winner of the Tour de France.
With every k the riders get closer to the top, there is
less oxygen to inhale.
Armstrong under the 5 kilometre banner as the
scenery becomes as Tommy Simpson said "another world - white rocks and blinding sun..."
The face of Lance show no suffering whatsoever, he only
sweats a bit, not even looking like he has to put much efforts in conquering this Giant. His face is a picture of determination and concentration, still with a high cadence and low gears eating up this lunar mountain.
Armstrong overtakes Baranowski, still has three minutes
to Virenque. Past the famous snow markers Armstrong has now put a minute into the Beloki group while Virenque pushes on - but he is beginning to sway and look tired.
How much time will Armstrong gain on his opponents? Beloki and Pradera try to, together with Rumsas, let the loss of seconds or minutes not to be too much...
Some idiot running next to Armstrong with the stars and stripes - when will spectators learn that that is a stupid and dangerous thing to do?
Virenque seems to have the win in his pocket, he has a
lead over Armstrong of over 3 minutes. He does not give in, has to work hard though, working his way all the way through the white stoned moon. He passes by the Simpson monument without looking.
Now Beloki is in trouble as Rumsas picks up the
pace of the chasing group.
Armstrong passes the 2 k. - Virenque is at 1 k from the
finish line. Beloki bravely tries to refind his own pace.
Rumsas and Basso on their own leading the chasers. Rumsas and Basso sure seem to have good legs today, which
will show in their overall standings after today's stage.
Virenque, one rider who does not have many friends left
in the peloton after the 1998 Festina affair reaches the finish line solo. The French crowds go wild as Virenque again proves the darling of France, the prodigal son of
French racing, returns his traditional finger salute as he crosses the line!
The clock at the finish line is ticking away its seconds,
awaiting the man in yellow, but first Botcharov will cross the finish line at the second spot.
And now Bocharov approaches the line - the man nicknamed Lucien after Lucien van Impe has put in a great ride - he crosses the line too tired to raise his head.
The Russian rider is 1.58 behind Virenque. Armstrong is
close to the line too, finishing third at about 3 minutes.
Serpellini fourth at 2.55. Rumsas and Basso fight over the fifth place, Rumsas takes it a bit before Basso crosses the line. Gotti and Leipheimer finish too.
Virenque finished about five minutes ago, one by one
riders cross the line. Goubert is there after 5.30 minutes, followed by French Moncoutie and Roberto Heras.
Hamilton approaching the finish line. Gap with Virenque: 7.06.
The big tower on the top of this Mont Ventoux shows the
photos of all winners.
The current number five Botero still did not reach the
finish line, he sure does some bad business for his overall standings.
Botero loses over 15 minutes...Guttierez stays with him
as a loyal companion. They reach the line at the same moment Virenque is receiving the flowers in the victory ceremony.
1 VIRENQUE Richard FRA DFF en 5h 43' 26"
2 BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS A2R à 01' 58"
3 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP à 02' 20"
4 SERPELLINI Marco ITA LAM à 02' 54"
5 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM à 03' 36"
6 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS à 03' 39"
7 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN à 03' 51"
8 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE à 04' 05"
9 BARANOWSKI Dariusz POL BAN à 04' 10"
10 GOTTI Ivan ITA
11 LEIPHEIMER Levy USA RAB à 04' 25"
12 AZEVEDO José POR ONE à 04' 45"
13 GOUBERT Stephane FRA DEL à 05' 25"
14 MONCOUTIE David FRA COF à 05' 46"
15 HERAS Roberto ESP USP à 05' 46"
16 SEVILLA Oscar ESP KEL à 05' 52"
17 MORENI Cristian ITA ALS à 05' 57"
18 ROBIN Jean-Cyril FRA FDJ à 05' 57"
19 HAMILTON Tyler USA CST à 05' 57"
20 PRADERA Mikel ESP ONE
21 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONE à 05' 57"
22 LAISEKA Roberto ESP EUS à 05' 57"
Overall after Stage 14:
1 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP en 56h 51' 39"
2 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE à 04' 21"
3 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM à 06' 39"
4 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONE à 07' 04"
The rest of the GC is not available at the time of this posting, so we are going to wrap up our live report now. Thank you very much for joining us today for the climb of Mont Ventoux.