Search the news archive:
Tour de France Stage 15 Live Coverage
By Locutus
Date: 7/21/2003
Tour de France Stage 15 Live Coverage
Hello and welcome to the Queen Stage of the Tour de France!

And so it comes down to this: 159.5km from Baneres de Bigorre to the mighty Luz-Ardiden. The profile has three small Cat 4 climbs before hitting the first of three monsters. At 81.5km the riders hit the Cat 1 Col d'Aspin (12.3km at 6.4%), then they move the Hors Catergorie Col du Tourmalet at 107km (17.1km at 7.4%), and finally the big showdown at 142.5km on the uphill finish of the Luz-Ardiden (13.4km at 7.6%). This is the last stage for the big GC contenders to take time out of one another before next Saturday's time trial, so look for a big, hard, fast, all-out war today. Strap it on.

The day began with a moment of silence in memory of Lauri Aus, the AG2r rider who was killed by a drunk driver in Estonia. The riders set off with mild weather, a break from the heat-wave that's been on for over the last couple of weeks.

It rained overnight, and there is a chance of rain on the course for the riders today. Early on, American Fred Rodriguez of Vini Caldirola abandoned; he had been in a crash yesterday. Sylvain Chavenel (Brioches la Boulangere) and Santiago "The Battler" Botero (Telekom) sat off on a breakaway; Inigo Charreau (AG2r) is chasing the two off the front of the U.S. Postal-led peloton.

5:00 am PDT. 91km left Chavenel and Botero have 3' 20" on the peloton and 2'00" on Charreau. The riders are now on the incline that leads up to the Col d'Aspin.

The two leaders are working well together. The peloton is still led by Postal. The big guns are sharpening their legs...Armstrong and Ullrich are both going to attack as hard as they can up the final climb, along with Vinokourov.

Milesi - Rodriguez's Vini Caldirola teammate - also abandoned overnight. Leonardo Bertagnioli (Saeco) abandoned earlier in the stage.

The lead of the break is very small, especially considering what is to come. Both are decent climbers, but if Botero has found his legs, he has to be the only one off the front capable of really lasting when the big guns attack at the end of the day.

The feed zone today is on the small break between the descent of the Col d'Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. Lance stuffs a powerbar in his mouth, and the Notorious VHP, Victor Hugo Peña, sets the pace on the front of the peloton.

5:13 am PDT. 78km left. The two leaders are on the early slopes of the Cat 1 Col d'Aspin. The break is gaining time steadily now, with a lead of 6'20" on the peloton. Meanwhile, I'm so nervous that I could puke. This is the closest Tour since the legendary battle between Fignon and Lemond back in 1989. That one came down to the final time trial. Many think this year's race will have a similar ending.

Back in 1989, Fignon said that (this is a paraphrase from the deep in my memory) Lemond was some kind of wise-guy genious, who always played the role of the weak chicken and seemed like he was in trouble, but always managed to limit his losses.

Armstrong seems to be having a similar race this year: seeming weak to many, but fighting and limiting his losses when it seems like he is going to get hammered.

Former US Postal Tour de France Road captain Frankie Andreu reports that today, Lance has his fighting face on.

Escapee Chavanel has had a poor Tour so far, in 47th at 1 hour 21 minutes down on Armstrong. Inigo Chaurreau, currently in no man's land between the peloton and the leading duo, has just started climbing the Col d'Aspin 4'19" behind. US Postal is all over the front of the pack.

Ullrich has a mechanical! He's 30 seconds behind the peloton now! Looks like something major is wrong...Postal is riding at a slack pace on the front. There are some of his teammates dropping back for him now.

Nobody wants the Tour to be won by default - anyone who attacks will be severely reprimanded by the patron Armstrong... or Ullrich and his Bianchi teammates. Nobody will want "El Jefe" Armstrong or "Der Kaiser" Ullrich mad at them!

Meanwhile, Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) has been dropped despite the slack pace!! Strangely, Erik Zabel (Telekom) rides near the front of the peloton in front of his GC man, Vinokourov.

Zabel isn't having a good ride this year, and has put himself at the disposal of Vinokourov as the Kazakh rider tries to make the final podium in Paris.

Charreau is still 4' 43" behind the lead duo. He won't bridge.

5:31 am PDT. 71km left. Jan Ullrich is back on his way to the pack - as the peloton keeps it steady. The peloton is still pretty much all together. The pace is light, as the riders are waiting until the final climbs to start to get freaky with it.

Robert Heras is suffering from bronchitis, which explains why he's had a less brilliant ride than he had last year... That signing of Manuel Beltran is looking more and more clever!

The Notorious VHP, Victor Hugo Peña still leads the peloton 9' 10" behind the break. Euskaltel will be bummed at missing a rider in this break, but maybe they will do their most to chase it down further on in this stage.

With the loss of Unai and David Etxebarria in the time trial, Euskaltel perhaps is reserving its diminished forces for the end of the stage.

The Euskaltel riders are turning the pedals a bit easier today, as their sponsor has reportedly extended their sponsorship through 2006, which is a two year extension from their previous commitment. With the brilliant performance of young riders Mayo and Zubeldia in this Tour, I can see why Euskaltel Euskadi would want to extend.

Last time up this climb, in 2001, Jan Ullrich got punked on the Col du Tourmalet... and that was the year of Laiseka's Luz Ardiden triumph...

Since his fever-induced problem up the Alpe d'Huez, however, Ullrich has looked like a rock. Still, Lance has yet to find his good legs and attack yet. Should be a battle of titans on the Luz-Ardiden. The tension is about to drive us a bit dingy.

Vinokourov said, "You haven't seen the last of me yet either - I'm profiting as Ullrich and Armstrong watch each other". Indeed, they can't afford to lose much time to Vinokourov today either.

Haimar Zubeldia, alongside Vinokourov as one of the revelations of this Tour, also said, "It's as close to home as we Euskaltels will get - I might attack, who knows..."

A few of the Lotto-Domo riders get shelled now on the climb. It really is a hard climb, even if there aren't any attacks in the peloton right now. The peloton is 9'25" down on the two frontrunners.

5:43 am PDT. 65km left. The clouds shrouding Luz Ardiden may also help Armstrong, as he has had recent dehydration and heat problems. Simoni (Saeco) is near the back of the peloton. He had a brilliant win yesterday, but may be struggling today. He attacked earlier on today, but was quickly brought back.

Michael Boogerd also had a go with 'Spiderman', but he was reeled in too - it doesn't look likely that Boogerd will repeat last year's splendid victory atop La Plagne.

The crowds on the top of the Col d'Aspin are gigantic. This is only the first big climb! Man, the crowd up that last climb will be in the several hundreds of thousands.

Last time Ullrich and Armstrong did battle up the Luz-Ardiden, Ullrich was dropped and fought back on, but he had already given up the ghost on his tour. In the end, Laiseka and Belli came first and second, and Armstrong did not come around Ullrich for third. Ullrich, knowing he was beat, offered Armstring his hand coming over the line. How different things are today!

5:49 am PDT. 63km left. A man from Euskaltel and a Bianchi rider now come to the front of the peloton. Green jersey holder Baden Cooke is in trouble - he's being nursed through the climb now with faithful compatriot Brad McGee.

Chavanel has crossed the Aspin first, with Botero on his wheel behind. Botero and Chavanel are now flying on the descent towards the feed zone. Guidi (Bianchi) is dropped off the back, but he is a sprinter and will likely finish in the gruppetto.

Gilberto Simoni is in trouble at the rear. He is on his way out the back of the peloton.

There are fans even lining the not-so-steep part of the descent! The magnitude of this stage and the drama of the race has really brought out the fans today!

Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis) slides off the back. He's with a group of men struggling trying to stay close enough to catch back on during the descent.

Virenque comes to the front, trying to take maximum points over the top of the climb. He wants fourth. Moreau attacks to try to bug Virenque.

Moreau has no reason to go for 4th on a mountain...he's not in the race for that jersey. Is he just yanking Reechard's chain? Erik Zabel goes over the climb with the peloton... what a stud.

Some history on the Tourmalet: In 1906, the founder Henri Desgrange was looking for mountains and more suffering in his race. His friend Alphonse Steinès volunteered the Pyrenees and Desgrange told him to "go and scout them out."

Steinès drove his car (a rarity in 'those' days) to within 4km of the Tourmalet as the weather worsened (snow stopped his progress) and darkness set in. He set off on foot overnight and faltered 12km down the southern slopes through the bitter cold of the night, scared out of his wits, to find the gendarme post at Barèges. Here, he sent a telegraph to his friend Desgrange: "Have crossed the Tourmalet on foot by night. Road passable for vehicles. No snow."

From that year on, mountains were included although the Tourmalet wasn't riden over until 1910 - I believe this will be the 68th riding of the Tourmalet, making it the most-often-crossed peak.

Botero and Chavanel are going through the feed zone. The peloton will lollygag their way through that area too. Meanwhile, fog has rolled in on the Luz-Ardiden. It will be much colder than the climbs of previous days. Postal is all together on the front of the pack. Riders are strung out in single file.

A Saeco rider comes to the front of the peloton to take some points in the "King of the Bushes" competition, slowing down to answer the call of nature from his bike along the side of the road on the descent. Careful, mate!

The Tourmalet has shattered some victory dreams - and some forks alike. For example, Eugene Christophe led the race in 1913 when his forks snapped. However 'Cri-Cri' did not weep, he 'just' shouldered the bike and ran 8km (2 hours it took) to the nearest blacksmith. And even here, the rules were that he couldn't accept help - he had to forge the new forks himself! He eventually rode on to the finish and, incredibly, came to Paris seventh overall. Talk about an 'Ironman!'

The FCF (French Cycling Federation) has put a plaque on the wall of that blacksmith's commemorating Christophe: "Eugene Christophe did not abandon the race which he might have won. An example of wonderful determination."

6:05 am PDT. 50km left. The two men off the front are now on the Col du Tourmalet. Botero and Chavenel have over 9' on the field. Charreau is still in no-man's-land between the two leaders and the peloton.

Chaurreau actually beat Botero in the recent ITT, but he's not much of a climber.

The peloton continues to torture us tickerers by rolling leisurely through the feed zone. We are all waiting for the big battle up the final climbs. Everything comes down to this, the most important part of the most important stage of the Tour.

Botero has been dropped by Sylvain Chavanel - Botero now rides alone up the Tourmalet. Chavanel is about 15" ahead of Botero. Chavanel had an outstanding Paris-Nice this year...he is a fine rider who can clearly do a pretty decent climb. He is an attacker, and gives the French great hopes for his future.

The peloton hits the bottom slopes of the Col du Tourmalet. Euskaltel comes to the front to join Postal in making the pace.

The Basque flags are out on the Tourmalet. Meanwhile, the peloton is led out by two Euskaltel riders, showing the colors to their Basque fans. Postal in the front too. In the gruppetto, Brad McGee ( leads his teammate and Green Jersey wearer Baden Cooke in the chase of the peloton.

Richard Virenque added to his KOM tally over the Aspin, even though it's mathematically impossible for him to be caught. 'Reeeechard' is seemingly in it for pride, to run up a record number of points.

6:18 am PDT. 46km left. Euskatel is driving the pace at the front of the pack, and the pace is picking up. Chavanel's advantage on Botero has grown to about a minute - in 'normal' circumstances, you'd expect the man from Medellin to turn those big gears in that remarkably-ugly style of his and fly past young 'Mimo'. However, Botero has not had a great Tour.

Millar and Simoni are off the back with Piil (CSC). There's no power left in the engine room.

Botero still sets a strong tempo behind Chavanel on the Tourmalet. The peloton is well behind.

Heras is now off the back as well. That will not be good news for Lance Armstrong. In fact, Pavel Padrnos and Roberto Heras are off the back together, all bandaged up and not feeling too great.

In the front of the race, Chavanel gets a pack of carbo-goo from his team director, and a handy little tug up the climb. The Euskaltels will be willing to risk everything - maybe even a good GC position - to win here. With the 1-2 punch of Mayo and Zubeldia, they look in good position for a winning attack. A Basque win on the 'Fluorescent Orange' Mountain would see the whole of Luz Ardiden and the surrounding area erupt.

Rolf Aldag is shelled out the back... they're dropping like flies on the foot of the Tourmalet. The peloton is blowing to hell. The hammer is going down a bit in the pacemaking on the Tourmalet. Ekimov is now gone for Postal.

6:27 am PDT. 43km left. "The Pensioner" Ekimov isn't giving up...he'll try to catch back on the descent to do whatever he can to set the pace for Armstrong. Ekimov is making all of us old men proud, as he's the eldest statesman of the race.

Vladimir Karpets is out the back... as is Michael Rogers. Brochard is gone now too. Floyd Landis is off the back.

Andrea Peron (CSC) is now shelled, paying for his hard ride in the breakaway yesterday, where he finished 4th on the stage. Chavanel has 1' on Botero as he nears the top of the Col du Tourmalet. It's dark and cloudy on the road...

Are we going to see the first drops of rain so far in this Tour?

6:31 am PDT. 41.5km left. This climb up the Tourmalet is taking forever. You'd think that it was hard or something. Chavanel is gradually getting a bigger gap on Botero - it's now around 1'30".

The Tourmalet is, of course, a 17.1km climb at an average gradient of 7.4%.

Mayo and Moreau are now in an attack off the front! Beltran (US Postal) raises the pace in the peloton. Armstrong has moved to the front to bring this break to heel. This shells another couple of dozen riders.

Ullrich is right on the front as well... Moreau is back in the pack. Ullrich and Armstrong have attacked... they are together! They are dueling already!! Ullrich sets a fierce pace...Ullrich gets a gap! Armstrong is losing ground and Ullrich drills on! Vinokourov tries to bridge!

Armstrong is not panicking... he is letting Ullrich go - there's no wiorries here, Armstrong can stay close and catch Ullrich on the descent. There is a long, long way until the finish. This is a very interesting move.

A few riders are trying to bridge up. Lance is out of the saddle, setting a pace to nail Ullrich back. This is epic! Basso, Zubeldia, and Vinokourov are in a small bunch a ways behind.

Ullrich is working already, Armstrong is catching back onto Ullrich - Vinuhourov is in difficulty...Lance catches Ullrich!! This is the first punch in a long, hard battle to come today.

Ullrich is driving on, he keeps looking behind him, but the Yellow Jersey is right behind him. Vinokourov is not panicking either. He's setting a hard pace, with Zubeldia and Basso on his wheel. They've flown past Charreau. Ullrich attacks, Armstrong conserves, but stays close. Ullrich still holds a gap of about 10 meters. Finally, finally, Lance has his wheel. It's foggy on the mountain...

Clearly this could be as much a tactical and psychological battle as it is a physical one! The Basque climbers are nowhere, and Vinokourov is far behind.

Only Botero and Chavanel are off the front of Ullrich and Armstrong.

There is a sea of orange in the mist at the top of the climb. The old rivalry flames have been rekindled in the fire - Armstrong and Ullrich are burning away the opposition! Vinokourov is 32" down!

6:38 am PDT. 39km left. Mayo charges! He's accelerated past Ullrich and Armstrong - wow! Basso is about 20m ahead of Vinokourov, who looks calm enough.

Hamilton accelerates! He accelerates from the group with Vinokourov, Totschnig, Basso and Menchov! Vinokourov goes after him! Hamilton has dropped Vinokourov!!

Mayo, Ullrich and Armstrong lead up the climb - the Basques are going berserk for their man! Chavanel carries on in the fog - there's a hot battle behind him!

What a war, an absolute war! It would take a poet like Milton to do justice to an epic battle like this in the misty heavens at the top of the Tourmalet!

Armstrong is ahead of Ullrich now...Menchov is grimacing on Vinokourov's wheel, but it looks like Vinokourov's Tour could be lost here! Mayo follows the titans! Beltran, Sastre and bushy-haired-blonde Pellizotti are also in the Vinokourov group!

Postal is starting to marshal their forces. Ullrich looks to be alone. ZUBELDIA is chasing! Haimar Zubeldia is only 30m behind Mayo, Armstrong and Ullrich! The fans are absolutely ballistic as TWO Euskaltels are with the favourites!

They will give the Orangemen an advantage in their home terrain! Ullrich sets a hard, strong pace. Armstrong is on his wheel, followed by Mayo and Zubeldia. Armstrong is right on Ullrich... Ullrich keeps looking behind him...

Vinukourov is suffering... he's seeing his hopes go south! Vinokourov has hit the wall! Lance is thinking about that can of Texas Whupass...where is it? Can he break it out on the Luz-Ardiden? Hamilton is still looking good! Chavanel has 1km to go til the summit! Vinokourov is 1'10" down on the Lance group - he will have to descend like a stone!

Ullrich is wasting valuable gas with this attack. Lance started to follow and Johan told him to TAKE IT EASY.

6:47 am PDT. 37km left. The top spot on the podium in Paris is going to be measured in seconds this year. Armstrong is dancing on the pedals right behind Ullrich. He looks calm... they are nearing the summit. Vinokourov is still not that far off the back...he could rejoin by the bottom of the descent. While the two Euskaltel boys are on the train, Armstrong said yesterday that he is only concerned with one man: Ullrich.

Vino is fighting back on. Mercado is on Vino's wheel, meanwhile Chavanel is 500 meters from the top. Chavanel crosses over the top to win the Jacques Goddet Prize and 5.000 Euros. The big guns are closing fast on Chavanel. Still, the young Frenchman goes over the top in 1st.

Armstrong now sets the pace. Now Ullrich pulls around him...he doesn't like that ham-gazing view this year!

Botero is sitting up! He's slowing down - I think he will wait for Vinokourov! What an uncompromising position for the Colombian!

Ullrich, Armstrong, Mayo, and Zubeldia go over the top now. Ullrich and Armstong are locked together in battle! They have cut the lead to Chavanel to 3'! They took six minutes out of him on that climb!

Basso, Moreau, and Hamilton are the next over! Armstrong is looking good over the summit. Hamilton is close on with Basso and Moreau! Ullrich and Armstrong are on the descent. Totschnig, Sastre, Menchov are in a following group. No sign of Vino. Beltran and Rubiera are in that Menchov group. Vino is about 1'30" down on the leading favourites!

Holy cow! This is a nasty descent, with harsh switchbacks!

Botero is shepherding Vino downhill now - he's going to have to do some major free-falling to catch up and salvage his Tour.

Vino is behind by 1' 18". He has a lot of time to make up on Ullrich and Armstrong. Virenque now crests the hill.

Lance is attacking on the descent! He has dropped one of the Euskaltel men! Ullrich and the other Euskaltel still have his wheel!

Chavanel is going hard, trying to stay away on the descent, but his lead looks precarious now. Armstrong is still flying...he's setting a hard pace to keep Vino off the back, and to make life rough on his companions.

Armstrong learned the fine art of descending while a rookie on Motorola with that legendary descender, Sean Yates.

7:08 am PDT. 20km left. Vino is back with the ahead on the flats. He's going fast and taking chances on the descent...he's shaking his legs and driving it to save his place...They will hit the Luz-Ardiden soon! Armstrong is first wheel ahead, followed by both Euskaltels and then Ullrich. Armstrong is now munching something, fueling for the climb. The others in his group do the same.

Ullrich is massaging and shaking his big muscles...

Hamilton, Basso, and Moreau are going to catch the Armstrong group!!! Vino is 1:23 behind the leaders. It's great to see "Nails" Hamilton back with the lead group today. Moreau, Basso and Hamilton have caught the Armstrong group! Super descending and riding from these guys, especially highest-placed Frenchman Moreau (in 10th).

7:14 am PDT. 16km left. Chavanel hits the final climb. Armstrong stretches out his back with a few twists as the road levels out...7 riders together now....Chavanel, Hamilton, Armstrong, Ullrich, Mayo, Zubeldia, Basso, and Moreau.

As things stand, Euskaltel look good for the Team competition, with Zubeldia and Mayo with the favourites and Luz Ardiden 2001 winner Laiseka chasing manically in the Vinokourov/Menchov group.

7:16 am PDT. 13km left. The lead GC men are now on the climb! Moreau leads, Armstrong 2nd wheel. Ullrich has dropped back....That 15" lead Armstrong has is very precarious...he will want to pad that, and Ullrich will bury himself to take it back. Botero is going out the back - Vinokourov is on his own...No - Guerini is still with him. Guerini is digging deep to help his leader.

Mayo and Basso attack!! Ullrich responds, Armstrong on his wheel. HELMETS OFF. The Postal car takes everyone's helmets. Nobody attacks while they all shed the headgear.

7:18 am PDT. 11km left.. Vinokourov rejoins the Armstrong group! So are Manuel Beltran and Chechu Rubiera! There is a Bianchi and two Posties at the front working for their team leaders! Garmendia leads for Bianchi, setting the pace! Armstrong's soldiers are right behind them.

This is it. The final hammer, the last waltz, the big day, the 2 minute warning. Brave Chavanel passes under the 10km to go banner! The pace is picking up amongst the big GC leaders.

At the back, Pellizotti hands his helmet... to the ONCE team car. Either a nice gesture, or a criminal act! In fact, team cars are taking the helmets for all teams...they'll sort out the helmet situation at the end of the day.

Now a Postie goes to the front! Men are being shelled again. Totschnig is gone, as is Jaksche. It's Beltran setting the pace. Ullrich's mouth is wide open...Halgand goes out the back.

Mayo attacks, Lance responds! Lance has the gap!! He goes!! LANCE Mayo and Ullrich and Lance crash! Ullrich missed it! His chain is stuck!! Lance is back on the road! Armstrong's chain is stuck!!

Lance hit a fan! His handlebars turned!! Ullrich is sitting up waiting!!! What a sportsman! Armstrong is having a problem with his pedal!!

Ullrich is not driving it... Lance needs a new bike,

Everyone is waiting for Lance! What sportsmen!! Hamilton is asking Basso to wait! Now Mayo attacks! Ullrich responds. They are all back together....Rubiera is there now, setting the pace. The chaos is over for now.

Lance will have to be worried. He's popped out of his pedals twice while out of the saddle. Mayo attacks, and Lance attacks again!! Lance is gone!! Ullrich is nailing him back! Armstrong attacks again!!! Mayo is behind him... Mayo is still there, and Ullrich sits up!!

ULLRICH IS DROPPED! Lance is flying up this climb like his ASS IS ON FIRE!! Mayo is hanging onto Armstrong by the skin of his teeth! Ullrich isn't giving up!

Vino is GONE. HE has popped! Lance is flying! Armstrong is bleeding from his arm, scuffs on his back, and he is still hammering away from Ullrich!

Ullrich has Basso, Hamilton, and the rest on his wheel! Armstrong is pumping time into Ullrich! Even if Ullrich loses 30", he'll still be in it for the time trial! This is going to be a brilliant finish! Ullrich has the face of pain on.

Armstrong hit a spectator with his handlebars, and then clearly hadn't clipped back in fully when he got back on.

This is the Lance we know - that 'Coffee Grinding' pedal technique is whirring at such a speed. Chavanel is still pushing ahead. Not sure if Lance can catch him in the final 6km. Ullrich is really hurting!!

Lance has FULL game face on. Ullrich is in pain. His face is a picture of agony! Armstrong has 21" already on Ullrich and his group! Ullrich is gritting his teeth. This German is a hero, a champion, a fighter. HE will NOT give up!! "RoboJan" will be back!

Basso, Moreau and Hamilton are still there sitting behind Jan in that order! Lance looks so bullish and determined! We'll see if that crash affects Lance further up the climb.

Chavanel 'only' has 1'53" to Armstrong - it'll be incredible if he hangs on to win the stage! Vinokourov is in the cars... he's is struggling to stay on, dying a thousand deaths behind. He could be losing his podium position...this is a very long climb, and he popped off on the bottom!

Ullrich, Zubeldia, Basso, Moreau are behind, with Jan setting the pace. They are powering up, but aren't flying like Lance. And Chavanel is only 1'03" from being caught by Big Tex who is riding in his Big Gear after that Big Crash!

Ullrich will be hailed as a true sportsman forever...he sat up and waited for Armstrong. Once Lance was back up from his crash, he continued his attack. Ullrich could have taken advantage, and he didn't. That's what makes this race...and this noble and amazing!

7:37 am PDT. The sweat is pouring off of Lance Armstrong's face, he's got his dsignature pedal cadence going... Armstrong is hammering up the hill... he has a gap to Ullrich of 45 seconds! There will also be the bonuses on the top.

This is sad, Vinokourov is in the red! He's going nowhere fast!

Lance is in the saddle, hammering away. The champion, covered in blood on his arm, has fought back! Ullrich is digging deep, too... what a sportsman! Ullrich grimaces. This German has no quit. He knows that he must limit the losses, and that he can still win in the final time trial like Lemond in '89!

Armstrong is only about 18" down on Chavanel! He's going to catch the brave French starlet! Mayo is back in the Ullrich group.

Jan is a monster! He is putting the hurt on the men in his slipstream! Lance has Chavanel! He needs that win bonus, and he needs this stage!

7:44 am PDT. 4km left. The poor French hero! Another huge winner of the day! He won't win the stage, but his defiant ride today shows his talent and grit. As Lance passes Chavanel, he pats him on the back - lovely!

Apologies for the service interruption. Here is the finish of the race.

4km to go for Armstrong! Lance is out of the saddle. He has fought through his bad days, minimized his losses to Ullrich and Vino, but Lance is now officially back. The crowd is going crazy! They realize what a wonderful, historic stage they are witnessing!

Number 1, Lance Armstrong, is number 1 on the road now too. He will win the stage, but how much time will he take by the top? Ullrich is fighting on - there is no quit in that man. What a champion. He has taken 15" back on Armstrong! Lance is just coming under the three kilometers to go kite - Ullrich is building his tempo... Ullrich is fighting hard!!

Armstrong is riding hard up the climb... I haven't seen a crash like Armstrong's since Guerini on the Alpe d'Huez a few years back. But Lance was cutting the corner too close this time, and it may not have been the fault of the fans.

Lance is still hammering...the Basque flags are mixed with American flags. Hamilton is slipping off the back - what a brave ride! Chechu Rubiera catches on to Vinokourov. Ullrich is setting a pace so high, I think Mayo and Zubeldia, the pure climbers, cannot attack him. They are on the rivet just trying to hold Jan's wheel.

Nobody is helping Ullrich in the chase - it's down to 47".

7:47 am PDT. 2km left. Moreau is slipping off the back. Lance is spinning a high pedal cadence, and is now inside the barriers. Ullrich is not giving up. He's limiting his losses, like Armstrong did two days ago! What a great, great battle! Armstrong's teeth are gritted with effort - he is leaving everything he has on this road today.

Ullrich is now inside the barriers! Lance is now back up to a 50" gap! They are both at their limits! The Euskaltels must think they're being hitched to a FedEx van - they haven't done 100m of work on this climb.

Lance is kicking to the finish! He will want maximum time!

Final kilometer. Lance is under the flamme rouge! He's out of the saddle, drilling on the shallower incline at the top. NO ham-gazers today. I refuse to give ham-gazing awards on such a marvelous, epic stage.

250 meters left. Lance is sprinting it out. It is still rather steep!

Lance flies across the line. No victory salute. He doesn't even celebrate.

The Euskaltel riders are fighting for the bonuses! Only 40" behind! Ullrich took 3rd, Zubeldia in fourth...Lance will get the 20" time bonus, so Big Jan should be about 1' 15" back.

1. Armstrong at 4h 29' 26", 2. Mayo @ 40", 3. Ullrich @ 40", 4. Zubeldia @ 40", 5. Moreau @ 40", 6. Basso @ 47", 7. Hamilton @ 1' 10", 8. Vinokourov @ 2' 07".

That is a great comeback for Ullrich! This race is NOT OVER!

Hamilton comes over the line, using the last of his strength over the line. Vino comes across in 2' 07"! He will still have a good lead in the race for 3rd. Beltran leads home, Chavanel 2'45" down - what a ride by 'Mimo'!

This is what Henri Desgrange wanted - suffering and victory no matter what cost. I don't think I've seen anything so exciting in my life - and I'm damned if I'll see something that thrilling again... I think Johan Bruyneel must have had about 60 heart attacks today.

Last year, George Hincapie said the best moment of his tour was the day Lance rode away to take the yellow jersey; he was riding in the gruppetto with Ekimov listening to it on their radios... can you imagine the emotion of the Postal team today after this epic struggle? They must be smiling all the way up that last, miserable climb! They have done their job so well, and now Lance has had the legs to make it happen.

At the pace this stage was done, there's worry about the men in the "bus" - sprinters like McEwen and Cooke who looked to be finding it hard earlier on. Will they make the time cut?

Ullrich takes the photo finish for 3rd!! He gets an 8" bonus, and is now only 1' 07" behind! The gap is 2'45" to Vinokourov.

As Armstrong was on his attack, he stopped and put his arm around Sylvain Chavanel before passing him... to congratulate the young rider on his great ride today. What a day full of drama, excitement, and sportsmanship. It does not get any better than this.

Speaking to French TV, Armstrong looks so emotional. "To win the Tour, I had to attack today," he says in French. "I told myself, 'Lance, you have to win today!' as the adrenaline came through!"

When Lance popped out of his pedals after the first crash, he almost went down again. His crotch bounced on the seat, but he held it upright. Mayo, who had gone down with him the first time, almost went down with him again. Armstrong said when he saw the musette that he got hung up on, he saw it, thought "Shit!", then crashed.

From the podium, Armstrong smiles and salutes George Hincapie, his teammate who did so much work early in the stage, as he rides by!

Thank you for your patronage today. Look for our regular features later on, and rest day reviews and analysis tomorrow. The "Tour of the Century" resumes Wednesday with Stage 16 and we will be right here with live coverage of the stage. Allez! Results below.

Stage 15 Results

1 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 4h 29' 26"
2 MAYO Iban ESP EUS 00' 40"
4 ZUBELDIA Haimar ESP EUS s.t.
5 MOREAU Christophe FRA C.A 00' 43"
6 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS 00' 47"
7 HAMILTON Tyler USA CSC 01' 10"
8 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL 02' 07"
9 RUBIERA José Luis ESP USP 02' 45"
10 CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA BLB 02' 47"
11 SASTRE Carlos ESP CSC 03' 12"
12 MENCHOV Denis RUS BAN s.t.
13 LAISEKA Roberto ESP EUS s.t.
14 TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT GST 03' 24"
15 BELTRAN Manuel ESP USP s.t.
16 JAKSCHE Jorg GER ONE 04' 10"
17 PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA ALS 04' 25"
18 HALGAND Patrice FRA DEL 05' 27"
19 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 05' 36"
21 BOOGERD Michael NED RAB 06' 17"
22 ROUS Didier FRA BLB 07' 00"
23 AZEVEDO José POR ONE 07' 21"
24 GUTIERREZ José Enrique ESP KEL 08' 03"
25 GOUBERT Stephane FRA DEL 08' 49"
26 VIRENQUE Richard FRA QSD s.t.
27 MERCADO Juan Miguel ESP BAN s.t.
28 PLAZA David ESP TBI 09' 15"
29 GARCIA CASAS Félix ESP TBI 09' 15"
30 GUERINI Giuseppe ITA TEL 09' 49"
31 ASTARLOZA Mikel ESP A2R 10' 13"
32 CHAURREAU Inigo ESP A2R s.t.
34 LELLI Massimiliano ITA COF 10' 40"
35 BROCHARD Laurent FRA A2R 11' 04"
36 BRUSEGHIN Marzio ITA FAS 11' 11"
37 SORENSEN Nicki DEN CSC s.t.
38 DUFAUX Laurent SUI ALS 11' 16"
39 FRITSCH Nicolas FRA FDJ 11' 53"
40 LUDEWIG Jorg GER SAE 12' 26"
41 GARMENDIA Aitor ESP TBI 12' 56"
42 BLAUDZUN Michaël DEN CSC 13' 37"
43 FREIRE Oscar ESP RAB 16' 26"
44 CASERO Angel ESP TBI s.t.
46 PORTAL Nicolas FRA A2R s.t.
47 ROGERS Michael AUS QSD s.t.
48 BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS A2R s.t.
50 KESSLER Matthias GER TEL s.t.
51 NIERMANN Grischa GER RAB 17' 40"
52 HINCAPIE George USA USP 19' 49"
53 O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A s.t.
54 BOTERO Santiago COL TEL s.t.
55 PINEAU Jérôme FRA BLB s.t.
56 ZANDIO Xabier ESP BAN s.t.
57 CANADA David ESP QSD 23' 02"
58 BRANDT Christophe BEL LOT s.t.
59 BENETEAU Walter FRA BLB s.t.
60 MIHOLJEVIC Vladimir CRO ALS s.t.
61 LOPEZ MUNAIN Alberto ESP EUS s.t.
62 NOZAL Isidro ESP ONE s.t.
63 BÖLTS Udo GER GST s.t.
64 BODROGI Laszlo HUN QSD s.t.
65 LASTRAS Pablo ESP BAN s.t.
66 NARDELLO Daniele ITA TEL s.t.
67 AERTS Mario BEL TEL s.t.
68 ZAMPIERI Steve SUI CAL s.t.
69 LATASA David ESP KEL s.t.
70 ARTETXE Mikel ESP EUS s.t.
71 VASSEUR Cédric FRA COF s.t.
72 ANDRLE René CZE ONE s.t.
73 CIONI Dario  ITA FAS 23' 21"
74 BETTINI Paolo ITA QSD 25' 07"
76 COMMESSO Salvatore ITA SAE 25' 28"
77 SACCHI Fabio ITA SAE 28' 36"
78 PERON Andrea ITA CSC s.t.
79 NOE Andrea ITA ALS s.t.
80 LANDIS Floyd USA USP s.t.
81 GESLIN Anthony FRA BLB s.t.
82 PRADERA Mikel ESP ONE s.t.
83 ZABEL Erik GER TEL s.t.
84 SERRANO Marcos ESP ONE s.t.
85 EKIMOV Vjatceslav RUS USP s.t.
86 HARY Maryan FRA BLB s.t.
87 ALDAG Rolf GER TEL s.t.
88 KARPETS Vladimir RUS BAN s.t.
90 CUESTA Inigo ESP COF s.t.
91 PIIL Jakob DEN CSC s.t.
92 JALABERT Nicolas FRA CSC s.t.
93 PENA Victor Hugo COL USP s.t.
95 LEFEVRE Laurent FRA DEL s.t.
96 BAGUET Serge BEL LOT s.t.
97 RENIER Franck FRA BLB s.t.
98 LIESE Thomas GER TBI 34' 44"
99 FLECHA Juan Antonio ESP BAN s.t.
100 KNAVEN Servais NED QSD s.t.
101 VAN BON Leon NED LOT s.t.
102 GARCIA ACOSTA Vicente ESP BAN s.t.
103 BECKE Daniel GER TBI s.t.
104 MUNOZ David ESP KEL s.t.
105 DE GROOT Bram NED RAB s.t.
106 CLAIN Médéric FRA COF s.t.
108 MILLAR David GBR COF s.t.
110 HINAULT Sébastien FRA C.A s.t.
111 GAUMONT Philippe FRA COF s.t.
112 EDALEINE Christophe FRA DEL s.t.
113 BOSSONI Paolo ITA CAL s.t.
114 GUIDI Fabrizio ITA TBI s.t.
115 USANO Julian ESP KEL s.t.
116 MC GEE Bradley AUS FDJ s.t.
117 COOKE Baden AUS FDJ s.t.
118 PADRNOS Pavel CZE USP s.t.
119 DUMOULIN Samuel FRA DEL s.t.
120 HERAS Roberto ESP USP s.t.
121 KRIVTSOV Yuriy UKR DEL s.t.
122 ZBERG Marcus SUI GST s.t.
123 POILVET Benoit FRA C.A s.t.
124 CASAR Sandy FRA FDJ s.t.
125 SIMONI Gilberto ITA SAE s.t.
127 MENGIN Christophe FRA FDJ s.t.
128 MONCOUTIE David FRA COF s.t.
129 GLOMSER Gerrit AUT SAE s.t.
130 HUSHOVD Thor NOR C.A s.t.
131 ANDRIOTTO Dario ITA CAL s.t.
132 WIELINGA Remmert NED RAB s.t.
133 TRENTIN Guido ITA COF s.t.
134 WAUTERS Marc BEL RAB s.t.
135 VOGONDY Nicolas FRA FDJ s.t.
136 PARRA Ivan COL KEL s.t.
137 ORIOL Christophe FRA A2R s.t.
138 BRAMATI Davide ITA QSD s.t.
139 TURPIN Ludovic FRA A2R s.t.
140 DA CRUZ Carlos FRA FDJ s.t.
141 NAZON Jean-Patrick FRA DEL s.t.
142 MC EWEN Robbie AUS LOT s.t.
143 PETROV Evgeni RUS BAN s.t.
144 VOECKLER Thomas FRA BLB s.t.
145 GATES Nick AUS LOT s.t.
146 VAINSTEINS Romans LAT CAL s.t.
147 FINOT Frédéric FRA DEL s.t.
148 NAZON Damien FRA BLB s.t.
150 BERTOLINI Alessandro ITA ALS 34' 54"
151 DE CLERCQ Hans BEL LOT 35' 35"
  BERTAGNOLLI Leonardo ITA SAE Abandon
  MILESI Marco ITA CAL Did Not Start
  MERCKX Axel BEL LOT Outside Time

General Classification after Stage 15 (Top 50)

1 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 65h 36' 23"
2 ULLRICH Jan GER TBI 01' 07"
3 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL 02' 45"
4 ZUBELDIA Haimar ESP EUS 05' 16"
5 MAYO Iban ESP EUS 05' 25"
6 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS 08' 08"
7 HAMILTON Tyler USA CSC 09' 02"
8 MOREAU Christophe FRA C.A 11' 12"
9 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 16' 05"
10 SASTRE Carlos ESP CSC 16' 12"
11 MENCHOV Denis RUS BAN 17' 09"
12 TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT GST 18' 52"
13 BELTRAN Manuel ESP USP 19' 34"
14 VIRENQUE Richard FRA QSD 22' 00"
15 LAISEKA Roberto ESP EUS 24' 19"
16 JAKSCHE Jorg GER ONE 24' 59"
17 ROUS Didier FRA BLB 26' 50"
19 RUBIERA José Luis ESP USP 27' 29"
20 DUFAUX Laurent SUI ALS 28' 57"
21 PLAZA David ESP TBI 40' 57"
22 GARCIA CASAS Félix ESP TBI 42' 48"
23 BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS A2R 45' 34"
24 LELLI Massimiliano ITA COF 45' 52"
25 AZEVEDO José POR ONE 49' 32"
26 NIERMANN Grischa GER RAB 58' 29"
27 ASTARLOZA Mikel ESP A2R 59' 42"
28 MERCADO Juan Miguel ESP BAN 1h 00' 49"
29 GOUBERT Stephane FRA DEL 1h 00' 50"
30 CHAURREAU Inigo ESP A2R 1h 01' 17"
31 BOOGERD Michael NED RAB 1h 04' 16"
32 BROCHARD Laurent FRA A2R 1h 07' 28"
33 HERAS Roberto ESP USP 1h 07' 58"
34 GUERINI Giuseppe ITA TEL 1h 12' 01"
35 NARDELLO Daniele ITA TEL 1h 14' 19"
36 PASCUAL LLORENTE Javier ESP KEL 1h 15' 40"
37 LUDEWIG Jorg GER SAE 1h 21' 52"
38 CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA BLB 1h 24' 16"
39 MILLAR David GBR COF 1h 24' 40"
40 HALGAND Patrice FRA DEL 1h 25' 33"
41 GUTIERREZ José Enrique ESP KEL 1h 32' 52"
42 PETROV Evgeni RUS BAN 1h 33' 25"
43 MONCOUTIE David FRA COF 1h 34' 03"
44 ROGERS Michael AUS QSD 1h 35' 32"
45 SORENSEN Nicki DEN CSC 1h 37' 54"
46 BLAUDZUN Michaël DEN CSC 1h 39' 25"
47 KESSLER Matthias GER TEL 1h 40' 50"
48 BETTINI Paolo ITA QSD 1h 42' 53"
49 HINCAPIE George USA USP 1h 43' 15"
50 LEFEVRE Laurent FRA DEL 1h 45' 07"

Points after Stage 15 (Top 50)

1 COOKE Baden AUS FDJ 156 pts
2 MC EWEN Robbie AUS LOT 148 pts
3 HUSHOVD Thor NOR C.A 134 pts
4 ZABEL Erik GER TEL 126 pts
5 O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A 122 pts
6 NAZON Jean-Patrick FRA DEL 111 pts
7 PAOLINI Luca ITA QSD 106 pts
8 ULLRICH Jan GER TBI 98 pts
9 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL 91 pts
10 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 83 pts
11 FREIRE Oscar ESP RAB 83 pts
12 NAZON Damien FRA BLB 82 pts
13 VAINSTEINS Romans LAT CAL 81 pts
14 BETTINI Paolo ITA QSD 76 pts
15 ZUBELDIA Haimar ESP EUS 73 pts
16 GUIDI Fabrizio ITA TBI 72 pts
17 MAYO Iban ESP EUS 69 pts
18 GLOMSER Gerrit AUT SAE 63 pts
19 DE GROOT Bram NED RAB 62 pts
20 DA CRUZ Carlos FRA FDJ 51 pts
21 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS 44 pts
22 MC GEE Bradley AUS FDJ 43 pts
23 MOREAU Christophe FRA C.A 43 pts
24 VIRENQUE Richard FRA QSD 42 pts
25 PIIL Jakob DEN CSC 41 pts
26 HAMILTON Tyler USA CSC 41 pts
27 COMMESSO Salvatore ITA SAE 38 pts
28 DUFAUX Laurent SUI ALS 37 pts
29 ROGERS Michael AUS QSD 37 pts
30 FLECHA Juan Antonio ESP BAN 35 pts
31 CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA BLB 33 pts
32 SACCHI Fabio ITA SAE 32 pts
33 HINAULT Sébastien FRA C.A 32 pts
34 BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS A2R 29 pts
35 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 28 pts
36 NOZAL Isidro ESP ONE 28 pts
37 TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT GST 26 pts
38 SASTRE Carlos ESP CSC 25 pts
39 PORTAL Nicolas FRA A2R 25 pts
40 KRIVTSOV Yuriy UKR DEL 25 pts
41 SIMONI Gilberto ITA SAE 24 pts
42 MILLAR David GBR COF 24 pts
43 CUESTA Inigo ESP COF 24 pts
44 BROCHARD Laurent FRA A2R 23 pts
45 BENETEAU Walter FRA BLB 23 pts
46 GESLIN Anthony FRA BLB 22 pts
47 GAUMONT Philippe FRA COF 22 pts
48 ALDAG Rolf GER TEL 21 pts
49 BAGUET Serge BEL LOT 21 pts
50 BODROGI Laszlo HUN QSD 18 pts

King of the Mountain after Stage 15 (Top 50)

1 VIRENQUE Richard FRA QSD 318 pts
2 DUFAUX Laurent SUI ALS 177 pts
3 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 167 pts
4 MAYO Iban ESP EUS 130 pts
5 ZUBELDIA Haimar ESP EUS 125 pts
6 ULLRICH Jan GER TBI 124 pts
7 MOREAU Christophe FRA C.A 124 pts
8 BETTINI Paolo ITA QSD 100 pts
9 BELTRAN Manuel ESP USP 97 pts
10 CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA BLB 95 pts
11 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL 91 pts
12 BENETEAU Walter FRA BLB 80 pts
13 MERCADO Juan Miguel ESP BAN 77 pts
14 JAKSCHE Jorg GER ONE 77 pts
15 SASTRE Carlos ESP CSC 72 pts
16 PARRA Ivan COL KEL 71 pts
17 SIMONI Gilberto ITA SAE 64 pts
18 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS 62 pts
19 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 62 pts
20 GARMENDIA Aitor ESP TBI 62 pts
21 ALDAG Rolf GER TEL 61 pts
22 RUBIERA José Luis ESP USP 58 pts
23 HAMILTON Tyler USA CSC 54 pts
24 PERON Andrea ITA CSC 51 pts
25 POILVET Benoit FRA C.A 51 pts
26 ROGERS Michael AUS QSD 48 pts
27 ZAMPIERI Steve SUI CAL 48 pts
28 CASERO Angel ESP TBI 47 pts
29 MENGIN Christophe FRA FDJ 40 pts
30 BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS A2R 38 pts
31 PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA ALS 36 pts
32 BOTERO Santiago COL TEL 33 pts
33 LOPEZ MUNAIN Alberto ESP EUS 33 pts
34 MENCHOV Denis RUS BAN 26 pts
35 CHAURREAU Inigo ESP A2R 26 pts
36 HERAS Roberto ESP USP 24 pts
37 NARDELLO Daniele ITA TEL 24 pts
38 PRADERA Mikel ESP ONE 23 pts
39 HALGAND Patrice FRA DEL 19 pts
40 CLAIN Médéric FRA COF 19 pts
41 MONCOUTIE David FRA COF 18 pts
42 FINOT Frédéric FRA DEL 18 pts
43 LAISEKA Roberto ESP EUS 17 pts
44 GLOMSER Gerrit AUT SAE 15 pts
45 FLECHA Juan Antonio ESP BAN 15 pts
46 GESLIN Anthony FRA BLB 15 pts
47 TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT GST 14 pts
48 RENIER Franck FRA BLB 12 pts
49 MC GEE Bradley AUS FDJ 12 pts
50 PENA Victor Hugo COL USP 10 pts

Young Rider Classification after Stage 15

1 MENCHOV Denis RUS BAN 65h 53' 32"
2 ASTARLOZA Mikel ESP A2R 42' 33"
3 MERCADO Juan Miguel ESP BAN 43' 40"
4 CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA BLB 1h 07' 07"
5 PETROV Evgeni RUS BAN 1h 16' 16"
6 ROGERS Michael AUS QSD 1h 18' 23"
7 KESSLER Matthias GER TEL 1h 23' 41"
8 FLICKINGER Andy FRA A2R 1h 32' 14"
9 PINEAU Jérôme FRA BLB 1h 34' 43"
10 FRITSCH Nicolas FRA FDJ 1h 35' 11"
11 PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA ALS 2h 00' 08"
12 KARPETS Vladimir RUS BAN 2h 06' 49"
13 PORTAL Nicolas FRA A2R 2h 15' 05"
14 KRIVTSOV Yuriy UKR DEL 2h 16' 54"
15 HUSHOVD Thor NOR C.A 2h 35' 57"
16 GESLIN Anthony FRA BLB 2h 42' 20"
17 HARY Maryan FRA BLB 2h 48' 31"
18 EDALEINE Christophe FRA DEL 2h 52' 53"
19 CASAR Sandy FRA FDJ 2h 58' 30"
20 VOECKLER Thomas FRA BLB 2h 58' 54"
21 WIELINGA Remmert NED RAB 2h 59' 01"
22 COOKE Baden AUS FDJ 3h 08' 28"
23 MUNOZ David ESP KEL 3h 09' 38"
24 DUMOULIN Samuel FRA DEL 3h 12' 57"
25 BECKE Daniel GER TBI 3h 15' 48"

Teams Classification after Stage 15

1 TEAM CSC  CSC 194h 34' 02"
6 TEAM TELEKOM  TEL 1h 24' 56"
8 AG2R PREVOYANCE  A2R 1h 54' 45"
9 ONCE - EROSKI  ONE 1h 58' 31"
12 ALESSIO  ALS 2h 57' 23"
14 KELME - COSTA BLANCA  KEL 3h 12' 51"
15 GEROLSTEINER  GST 3h 13' 54"
16 JEAN DELATOUR  DEL 3h 14' 02"
17 RABOBANK  RAB 3h 35' 46"
18 FASSA BORTOLO  FAS 3h 45' 57"
19 CREDIT AGRICOLE  C.A 4h 35' 06"
20 LOTTO - DOMO  LOT 5h 31' 53"
21 FDJEUX.COM  FDJ 6h 13' 03"
22 CALDIROLA - SO.DI  CAL 6h 28' 09"

Copyright © 2002-2011 by Daily Peloton.
| contact us |