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Jambon Awards: Tour Stage 14
By Locutus
Date: 7/21/2002
Jambon Awards: Tour Stage 14
Ham-Gazers of the Day:
  • Santiago Botero, Kelme-Costa Blanca. In the Dauphine Libere last month, he finished 15' 06" behind the stage winner Menchov (BAN) in the climb up Mont Ventoux. Today he repeated that performance, finishing 15' 04" behind Virenque (DFF). In the Dauphine, Botero rebounded the next day to smoke Armstrong (USP) and everyone else in the time trial. With a rest day tomorrow, Botero should recover and rebound as he did in the Dauphine to challenge in the climbs and the time trial to come. He dropped from 5th to 18th in the GC, but it would be a mistake to dismiss his chances for a top ten finish in Paris.
  • Roberto Heras, U.S. Postal Service. As Armstrong said after the stage, the Ventoux can do some funny things to the legs of even the greatest climbers. Heras was not brilliant today, but he was likely paying for his brilliant performances in Stages 11 and 12 to some extent. Despite struggling, he still rode well enough to maintain his position at 7th in the GC. His boss didn't need him today, but he will in the days to come. The next time the peloton hits the slopes, you can bet that Heras will be back at the front on the climbs putting the hurt on everyone.
  • Laurent Jalabert, CSC-Tiscali. I only give him this award because of his amazing and relentless attacks over the last few days: it was kind of weird not seeing Jalabert off the front again today. The rest day will do him good, as he was not able to hang on the climb up Ventoux and slipped to 36th on GC, 29' 04" behind Armstrong. Still, the popular Frenchman holds a commanding lead in the King of the Mountains competition, 57 points ahead of Armstrong and 68 points ahead of Virenque. He'll surely be off the front again soon to defend that lead.
Golden Hams of the Day:
  • Richard Virenque, Domo-Farm Frites. Perhaps inspired by the brave attacks of his friend and compatriot Jalabert, Virenque finally found a bit of his old form today. He'd spent most of the climbs suffering off the back up to this point, but today he was cheered by his fanatical French public to a convincing win. Now he will try to duke it out with his old friend Jalabert for the Polka-Dot Jersey, and hold his 10th place in the GC.
  • Lance Armstrong, U.S. Postal. He showed once again why he is the Boss today, countering the moves of ONCE and then cracking his challengers when it counted. In the last two years, Armstrong delivered a knockout blow to his rivals early and then pounded them the rest of the race. This year Armstrong seems to be winning with more cunning instead of sheer power, slicing his rivals a bit more each day to give them the death of a thousand cuts.
  • ONCE-Eroski. I considered giving them a Ham-Gazer award due to the fact that their leaders Beloki and Gonzalez de Galdeano lost important time to their rivals today. However, I admired their effort too much for that: they finally stopped sucking wheels today, and showed the guts to attack at great risk. They had Armstrong isolated and tired, and they gave him their best shots. They didn't succeed, and the effort cost them some time, but dammit, they are putting up a fight. Here's hoping they continue to fight like this in the days to come.
  • Raimondas Rumsas, Lampre-Daikin. He was the biggest winner today, finishing the stage in 5th at 3' 36" to put himself in 3rd on the GC at 6' 39" behind Armstrong. He took a huge stride today in his dream of landing on the podium in Paris. Rabobank's Levi Leipheimer also made a leap with his solid ride today, moving in to 9th on GC at 12' 54". He's found his legs, and will likely climb higher in the days to come.
Grazed Hams of the Day:
  • Roberto Heras, U.S. Postal. This is a bit of a retroactive award for Heras, as it has now come out that he was severely injured in his Stage 7 crash. His crash was noteworthy at the time because his handlebars got entangled in Armstrong's back wheel, causing his team leader to lose 27" on the stage. However, it turns out that the "Flyweight Flyer" suffered severe bruises and pain in his buttocks and tailbone from the jarring nature of his fall. This is what led to his horrible performance in the Stage 9 time trial, where he lost 6' 03" to Botero. He bounced back strong in Stages 11 and 12, chewing up the field for his leader like a man possessed. The revelations of his injuries have now added another dimension to his amazing performances in the Tour so far.
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