Tour de France, Grand Tour
France, July 3-25, 1999
Stage 14 Results
Stage 14, Castres - Saint-Gaudens, 189 kms:Stage 14 began in cooler conditions than yesterday, although the temperature was expected to rise to the low 30s. The sky was overcast however and this was sure to provide some relief to the riders. The 199 kms between Castres and Saint-Gaudens was not expected to present any particular problems to the 154 riders still in the race. The stage had particular historical significance because Gino Bartoli (Tour winner in 1938 and 1948) was 85 today and he won in Saint-Gaudens in 1950.
There were two significant climbs - the Cat 4 Côte de Fendeille (km 55.5) and the Cat 4 Côte du Vicaria (km 101). The stage took the riders to the start of the Pyrenees, the next major difficulty to be tackled on Tuesday after Monday's rest day.
At km 9, a fall brought down 10 riders but no-one was seriously injured. Rafael Diaz Justo (ONCE) was the last to get back into the race. Soon after, Jacky Durand (Lotto-Mobistar) and Dimitri Konyshev (Mercatone Uno) attacked and quickly built a 10 second gap. Dutch rider Erik Dekker then attacked from the front of the peloton in an effort to get across to the two leaders. The peloton were seemingly disinterested at this stage in countering the moves. The pace was now relatively slow (after a fast start). The lead went out to 1.28 over Dekker and 1.50 over the peloton.
The first to be dropped today was Marco Artunghi (Mercatone Uno). Erik Dekker punctured but was soon back on the bike. But his gap to the leaders blew out to 1.30 and 0.25 on the peloton. Artunghi abandoned soon after he was dropped. The peloton reeled Dekker in and at that time Fernandez Gines (Mapei) went off the front in chase of Konyshev and Durand but failed to get a clear gap. The next major move came at the 33 kms mark when 6 riders went off the front of the peloton - Ludo Dierckxsen (Lampre), Alvaro Gonzalez-Galdeano (Vitalicio), Udo Bolts (Telekom), Steve De Wolf (Cofidis), Henk Vogels (Credit Agricole) and Jose-Luis Rebello (ONCE). After km 34, the leaders are 1.15 on the 6 chasers and the peloton is at 1.50.
Konyshev and Durand contested the first points premie at Castelnaudary (km 46.5) with a 0.57 gap to the 6 riders behind and 1.20 on the peloton. Durand was first from Konyshev and as the 6 riders stuck in between gave up their pursuit, the third place in the sprint (and 2 points) went to Erik Zabel. The average speed for the first hour was a very quick 46.1 km/h.
Konyshev and Durand maintained a 1.10 lead on the peloton for some time but once the teams organised the chase the lead started to fall quickly. As they came to the Côte de Fendeille (km 55.5) the lead was down to 0.25. The first mountain premie at the top went to Konyshev from Durand with ONCE's Marcos Serrano coming in third at 12 seconds. On the descent, the gap widened again and they were joined by 4 other riders - Elli (Cofidis), Faresin (Mapei), Wesseman (Telekom), and Belli (Festina) at km 62 and the 6 started to build the lead - first 50 seconds, then 1.15, then 1.50. At that point, US Postal started to work on the front of the peloton. But by km 71, the lead was 4.30 and the leading 6 were working well together. Wladimir Belli (Festina) was the closest threat to the GC at 26.02 (not really a threat!). After km 75, the lead was 6.20.
Oscar Pellicioli abandoned at km 82.
At the top of the Cat 4 Côte du Vicaria (km 101), the lead was 7.50 and the premie went to Faresin, from Lelli, and Durand. Soon after the second points premie came and the gap was 12.20 and didn't look like being closed down although US Postal were on the front of the peloton. Lelli won the premie from Durand and Wesseman. Durand was ensuring he went into positive figures on the points rankings after being negative for several days after points penalties were imposed on him for drafting cars and the like.
With 36 kms to go the time gap was posted at over 14.00 and the rain started coming down. The Kelme-Costa Blanca and Banesto teams were on the front (chasing team placings). At the 25 kms to go mark the lead was an unassailable 15.09 and the leading 6 were working the break well. The break in cooperation came with 4 kms to go when Gianni Faresin (Mapei-Quick Step) attacked. Only Konyshev could hold his wheel. Lelli tried later but failed.
The 33-year old Russian Dmitri Konyshev (Mercatone Uno), who first showed out in the 1989 World's in Chambery (3rd to Greg LeMond after driving the front group) achieved his first Tour win since 1991. In 1991, he won the last stage on the Champs Elysees. He outsprinted Faresin in the last 200 metres. Faresin had led the sprint out. Lelli, in a desperate last effort came in a close 4 seconds down.
The peloton driven by Telekom (for Zabel) came in at 13.26 and the interest was on the sprint relativity between Zabel and O'Grady. The German beat the Australian by one place and widened the points gap between himself and O'Grady further.