July 23 - Vaison-la-Romaine - Les Deux Alpes, 226.5 km
No less than seven catagorized climbs face the riders today, on the longest stage of this year's Tour, culminating in the 11.2 km climb to Les Deux-Alpes. Les Deux-Alpes was the decisive Stage in Marco Pantani's ascendance in the 1998 Tour de France, and the stage today is one that will be selective as well.
The principle difficulties are:
- Km 68.5 - Col de Prémol - 2.2 km at 5.5 % - 3rd Catagory
- Km 116.0 - Col de Grimone - 11.4 km at 4.9 % - 2nd Catagory
- Km 123.5 - Col de la Croix-Haute - 3.0 km at 4.0 % - 3rd Catagory
- Km 136.5 - Col du Banchet - 2.6 km at 6.6 % - 3rd Catagory
- Km 160.0 - Côte de Ponsonas - 2.3 km at 6.4 % - 3rd Catagory
- Km 190.0 - Col d'Ornon - 9.8 km at 4.8 % - 2nd Catagory
- Km 226.5 - Les Deux-Alpes - 11.2 km at 6.4 % - 1st Catagory
The climbs are not the hardest in the tour, but with seven of them, and 226.5 km to traverse, it's a tough stage. A break that gets away today could stay away. Look for some of the climber's teams who have had a tough time in the mountains thus far to put in a big effort today: Kelme, Euskatel...
We join the race in progress. Be sure to refresh the page (F5) for the latest info, which is posted at the bottom of the page.
Joining le Tour in progress, we have a seven rider break away by 8.40: Santiago Botero (KEL), José Vicente Garcia Acosta (BAN), Sandy Casar (FDJ),
Emmanuel Magnien (BJR), Axel Merckx (DOM), Mario Aerts (LOT), and Martin Hvastija (ALS).
Christophe Moreau crashed, split his lip, and is out. He left the tour in a ambulance.
Axel Merckx picks up the KOM points at the Col de
Jose Azevedo of ONCE is between the peloton and the
Pascual Laurente has crashed in the peloton...
The break is working well together, and Botero looks
recovered from his blow up on Ventoux.
9'05" to Azevedo, and 9'25" to the main field.
The seven man break is on the final climb of the day, the
gap is 9'13".
20 km to go, break is 9'10". This break will stay away.
Robbie McEwen is falling out the back. Laurent Jalabert
is riding sensibly in the peloton, saving his energy for tomorrow on the Galibier.
Victor Huga Pena is off the back, looking like he's done
a lot of work.
Jan Ullrich has recieved a six month suspension for his
positive test for amphetamine use.
One Postie left with Armstrong, and it's Landis. 10 km to go to the finishline. Once is NOW massed at the front...
The break has 7'58" on the peloton. Miguel Martinez attacks off the front of the peloton. Isidro Nozal is dropping off the back.
Miguel Martinez's father, Mariano Martinez, was a KOM in
Santiago Botero has attacked!
Mario Aerts has cracked. Axel Merckx is chasing, but Botero looks strong. He is hammering.
Patrice Halgand is falling out the back.
Botero continues to hammer on. His director is yelling
venga! venga! at him. Merckx continues to chase, he looks comfortable, and is chasing hard.
This looks like Botero's attack in the Classique des
Alpes... he looks strong with 6.5 km to go!
Aerts is totally cracked, but still not far
Merkx is still chasing Botero. Botero is speeding up the climb. He is hammering!
Botero is showing no sign of weakness. He is opening the gap, his lead is 42". Virenque is looking to come in in the top 5, to contest Jaja's lead in the KOM competiton.
Merckx is 42" behind Botero! Sastre is attacking off the front, he has a small gap. There is no response from Armstrong or Beloki.
Botero continues to absolutely drive it.Merckx is hanging tough, but is almost 1 minute behind.
Lance won't chase. ONCE will have to. Lance doesn't
care who is in 2nd. Armstrong is sitting in a cluster of pink jerseys, just watching.
Botero is battling the mountain!
Yes, Virenque is fading. Mario Aerts is cracked, holding
on to his third place.
Botero has 2K to finish. He is still strong. Mario Aerts
has gone by Axel Merckx.
Aerts passed Merckx! Looks like he's struggling
more than Merckx but he passed him.
It's 6'35" back to the peloton. ONCE is on the front protecting Beloki's lead, but they will not catch the break.
Botero is making his way through huge crowds.
Mancebo is going off the front, but ONCE is on it.
Armstrong is shadowing his man, he won't be worried about any of this. Leipheimer is only 9" behind Sevilla.
Sevilla is hanging on to the back of the Armstrong group.
Heras is near that as well. Leipheimer is moving up to the front of his group.
Botero is continuing to drive it up the mountain. He
looks to be truly laboring, but his face is absolute grit.
Botero wins the stage!
He is clapping the hands of the fans as he approaches the
line alone. He is thrilled with his victory!
Aerts will be next, he is climbing towards the finish. He is in pain, but he presses on.
Aerts is 1'51" behind Botero. Merkx is finishing, he will
be third. He's about 2:30 back of Botero, Merckx that is. Beautiful victory salute from Botero!
Peloton still at about 6 minutes.
Roberto Heras is a bit ahead with Mancebo. Beloki is
Armstrong is after him! Beloki goes straight past Heras. Armstrong is all over him. Beloki gets nothing. Lance looks like nails.
Rumsas goes over the top to take it at the line. Tyler Hamilton is finishing. Dario Frigo finishing, followed by Rubiera and Ivan Gotti. Beloki(8th) and Armstrong (9th).
Oscar Sevilla is paced by his teammate, he has lost
significant time on this stage. Liepheimer will certainly jump over Sevilla. With Leipheimer's TT ability, he could jump to top five if he stays in contact tomorrow.
Richard Virenque is just now finishing.
Botero says of his break: it isn't worth playing the
mathematician, you just have to go out and drive it.
Sevilla has dropped out of the top 10, and Botero climbs
over Liepheimer in the GC.
Botero is on the podium. He is very pleased.
Tyler finished not far behind Levi, and he'll move
up... Levi finished right behind Lance, and ahead of Sevilla. He's still in 9th on GC, though, because Botero jumped up into the top 10 again.
Ivan Basso holds onto White. Aerts most combative of the day.
Laurent Jalabert just now finishing.
Stage 15 Results
1 BOTERO Santiago COL KEL 5h 55' 16"
2 AERTS Mario BEL LOT 01' 51"
3 MERCKX Axel BEL DFF 02' 30"
4 MAGNIEN Emmanuel FRA BJR 04' 22"
5 CASAR Sandy FRA FDJ 04' 28"
6 GARCIA ACOSTA Vicente ESP BAN à 05' 15"
7 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM 06' 41"
8 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE 06' 41"
9 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 06' 41"
10 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 06' 46"
GC After Stage 15
1 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 62h 53' 36"
2 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE 04' 21"
3 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM 06' 39"
4 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONE 08' 50"
5 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 10' 54"
6 AZEVEDO José POR ONE 11' 11"
7 BOTERO Santiago COL KEL 11' 31"
8 HERAS Roberto ESP USP 11' 41"
9 LEIPHEIMER Levy USA RAB 13' 00"
10 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS 14' 02"
Thank you for joining us today, and please come back for tomorrow's Queen Stage!