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Quotes of the day
Santiago Botero (Kelme, 1st): "I dedicate my win today to my Colombian countrymen," he said after he not only won the stage, but also captured the polka-dot climber's jersey in the process. "It is the greatest victory of my career after having passed a difficult period when I was accused of doping. That is over now though." (Botero was suspended for 6 months last year by his federation for having a too high testosterone level).
"It is an important win for the resurgence of Colombian cycling and the sport in general. There is so little peace at the moment with our present political situation and the problems with drugs in the country," he added. "With respect to the stage, it had two quite different parts. A very calm beginning and a spectacular finish. My team did well and we finished off the day with a great victory. I have not neglected my team leaders at any moment and have fulfilled my work just as on other occasions. I will not give up this mountain jersey to Richard Virenque."
Botero's team manager, Vicente Belda was very proud, saying that "The win today was compensation for the hard work that he'd done, and nobody gave it to him. In the Pyreneean stage, he made a 'wearing down' attack for Escartin and Heras, and today showed that he is one of the strongest men of the Tour."
Javier Otxoa (Kelme, 24th at 5.38): Otxoa lost his mountains jersey but was nevertheless happy with his team's success. "Everything has gone very well for us, because it is the second stage gained by our team," said the winner of stage 10. He also added that the top riders were afraid to attack today and it was difficult to go alone due to the conditions and the force imposed by Armstrong's team.
Lance Armstrong (US Postal, 7th and maillot jaune): "It was a long day and very hard. Obviously, there was a lot of wind, but this is not new for this Tour. In the first half of the race I was not feeling that good, but on the Izoard I felt better. The day was hard for everyone though - some spent nine hours in the saddle. Perhaps it was too long, as there were not many attacks."
However on the Izoard, Marco Pantani attacked "strongly, more strongly than on the Ventoux. Marco is a good climber and I had to give a lot to stay with him. He was really flying and I told him 'hey, you are strong today!' When a rider deserves a compliment like that, it is better to be honest," said Armstrong with a smile.
"Today was at times quite hard, but the next stage is still harder on paper because of the Galibier, the Madeleine and the climb up to Courchevel. I am confident in my own condition, but it will be dangerous tomorrow. It will be the ideal day for a victory from Pantani."
Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno, 3rd): "I've had problems with my bronchial tract, so today was a little better. When I attacked, Armstrong followed. He said to me 'you are strong today'. I answered to it, it is it in addition. It answered, at the Ventoux it had been better."
Jan Ullrich (Telekom, 9th): "It was hard today. I did what I could. I exhausted my possibilities today and I had good support from the team. Armstrong is riding super strongly."
Richard Virenque (Polti, 5th): "The wind made it impossible today to attack early. Pascal Herve sacrificed himself for me. The stage was for the tired riders. Tomorrow we will see."
Christophe Moreau (Festina, 6th): "I knew it was necessary watch and stay with Pantani. I rode at the front and I consolidated my overall fourth position. It is crazy. Before the race, I would have taken this placing immediately, if someone had offered it to me."
Abraham Olano (ONCE, 47th at 10.20): "Things aren't going well for us, but we still have the desire to win a stage. We have to try," said Olano who ruled out abandoning the Tour, despite his fall today. He also had problems with his back wheel (broken rim) "I went back to the team car of Manolo Saiz and after we had changed it, I looked around for Laurent Jalabert. Later on, I fell on a corner but was not badly hurt. Today was very hard, but we all want to make it to the finish."
With two more serious mountain stages to come in the next three days, GC leader Lance Armstrong is still wary of his rivals down to as low as 15th place. He has a comfortable buffer on Jan Ullrich, who is second at 4.55, and doesn't appear to have the strength to attack the American on the climbs. Marco Pantani seems to be the only one who can do this, but he is more than 10 minutes down on the overall standings. Other rivals, such as Laurent Jalabert, Abraham Olano, Alex Zülle, and Bobby Julich have all fallen a long way down the classification and there will be more damage done in the coming days.
In third and fourth overall are Festina's Joseba Beloki and Christophe Moreau (5.52 and 6.51 respectively). However, they are not pure climbers and will find it difficult to put that sort of time into Armstrong in the next two Alpine stages. In the final time trial, they should be able to hold their own, but Armstrong remains the favourite for that as well. Richard Virenque, 5th at 8.26 is the best climber eligible to attack, but he certainly cannot time trial to Armstrong's standard.
Tomorrow from Briancon to Courchevel will presumably see a few more riders in the top 10 fall out of contention, but Armstrong still holds all the cards.
Tests still negative
The mandatory drug controls carried out on the Tour riders to date have been negative, after the latest results were released by the UCI today. Up to and including stage 9, "no forbidden substances were found" in the urine of any cyclist. The only abnormal substances came from riders who had been authorised by their team doctor to take them for medical purposes, with an accompanying medical certificate.
The French anti-drug laboratory of Châtenay Malabry in Paris is responsible for testing the samples, and will be continuing to test them after the Tour, when their EPO urine test is validated. Results from this are expected in September at the earliest, and the UCI have threatened retrospective sanctions on riders who are found to have taken EPO.
Stage 14 - July 16: Briancon - Courchevel, 173.5km
Right out of the box, the tired peloton of Le Tour 2000 faces the 2646m "hors categoire" Col du Galibier by way of the Col du Lautaret; 22.1 km at 5.3%. After a long downhill ride along the Massif de la Vanoise, it's another "hors categoire" col on offer. No piece of cake this one; the 2000m Col de la Madeleine is a unrelenting 19.3km climb at 8%.
Finally after the technical twisting descent of la Madeleine, it's the 22.2km ascension to the chi-chi ski resort of Courchevel. The final climb is tough, but the roads are wide and fast; great for an attack by Pantani who is anxious to win a stage all by himself. Le Maillot Jaune Armstrong and his USPS riders rode well to Briancon on the long Stage 14, but they will be tested on the tough ascent of la Madeleine.