87th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 1 - 23, 2000

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Complete live report

Stage 12 - July 13: Carpentras - Mont Ventoux, 149 km

Start time: 11:57
Estimated finish time: 16:05

Welcome to the 12th stage of the Tour de France, 149 km from Carpentras up to the summit of Mont Ventoux with a 21 km climb finishing the stage. Before that there are three climbs of the second category, Col de Murs at 41.5 km, Côte de Javon at 75 km, Col de Notre-Dame-des-Abeilles at 99 km and the fourth category Côte de Mormoiron at 118 km. Two early sprints: in Pernes les Fontaines at 22 km and Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt at 61.5 km.

The weather has been clearing up during the rest day and is now sunny but the wind is picking up and it is not very warm. It's more like early spring than summer. We can expect a hard day's climbing in with the Mistral winds making it even harder for the riders.

12.00 CET -

The field is off from Carpentras towards the bald Mont Ventoux where it is reported to still be cold but clear and windy, not more than 60 kph though today, yesterday it was 160. Climbing and strong winds is not a common combination. We know that cold and rain is Armstrong weather but what about this? Armstrong has trained on the Ventoux climb several times to prepare. The question is if Richard Virenque (Polti) will save himself for the final climb today or if he will try to get points for the dotted jersey already at the early category two climbs. Javier Otxoa (Kelme), who wears the jersey, will almost certainly be at the front on the first climbs, unless he also gives priority to the overall classification.

12.10 CET -

There were 159 riders taking the start in Carpentras. Marcel Wüst, Festina's sprinter is not along anymore. He stays in Avignon to tend his bronchitis after two days in the green jersey, four days in the spotted and one stage win. He still has given his team some value.

12.25 CET -

The first attack for the day comes from Jens Voigt (CA), a contender for the combativity honours. In the chase Telekom tore the peloton in three parts with Kelme sleeping in the back. The peloton is united again at 15 kms.

12.37 CET -

A crash in the peloton right now involving some 25 riders. White jersey Mancebo (Banesto) is stuck behind and so is Extebarria (ONCE) .

12.40 CET -

The fall wasn't too serious. All are back on their bikes quite soon chasing up to the peloton.

12.47 CET -

Wesemann (Telekom) and Morin (CA) has a gap now to a chasing group with , Jalabert (ONCE), Danish Champ Hamburger (MCJJ), Dufaux (Saeco), Julich (CA) and several other big ones. Nardello (Mapei) is towing dotted jersey Otxoa. Where are the Posties? This is probably a trick from the other teams to get rid of some Posties early. We cannot see Kjaergaard, Vasseur, Andreu and Joachim at the front. They are in the peloton but not at the front.

12.55 CET -

Hincapie, Hamilton, Livingston and Ekimov at the front in the peloton and Armstrong behind them keeping the pace when the attacks have been neutralized. But obviously Armstrong has to play his best cards early today. He was alone also at the final climb at Hautacam in the Pyrenees but then had had the rain as a tenth team member. Today it is sunny but fairly cold and we can now also see Joachim at the front so it's all calm again.

13.05 CET -

Tom Steels has abandoned the race which leaves Zabel in a still better position in the points competition. The minor Posties (sorry guys) are now in the front of the peloton when Christophe Agnulotto (Ag2R) attacks and a Kelme rider, Botero second in the climber's classification, is attacking the peloton taking second on the mountain prime at Murs. Hervé (Polti) is third. Neither Virenque nor Otxoa was to be seen, they let their team mates take the most of the points here.

13.12 CET -

Chann McRae (Mapei) has also abandoned. Agnulotto kept going after the mountain prime with 105 kms to go. A group of riders caught him, among them Nicolas Jalabert (ONCE). They have 24 seconds. The seven other riders in the group are Mattan (Cofidis), Herve (Polti), Botero (Kelme), Vinokuorov (Telekom), Arrieta (Banesto), Garcia Acosta (Banesto) and Kivilev (Ag2R).

13.20 CET -

Mattan riding hard in the group getting a gap to the others. The peloton will soon be a minute behind. Mattan and Botero are fairly well positioned in the general classification. Mattan gets the gap to the group from the yellow motorcycle but doesn't seem to believe in a future alone on the road. He says something to the guys on the motorbike and doesn't look too happy.

13.30 CET -

The group seems to take it a bit easier now in the cross wind. Mattan, back in the group, is allowed to take the sprint in Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt. Nobody seems to keen to go on from here or maybe they are just resting a bit for the next climb starting soon. 84 km to go. The gap is 2.50.

13.40 CET -

Michael Blaudzun (MCJJ) and Enrico Cassani (Polti) are reported to have abandoned. In the race the attackers' team cars are allowed to pass the peloton. The gap is more than three minutes now. Nic Jalabert wants some assistance or discussions with the car crew.

13.50 CET -

Nico Mattan is the best placed rider overall in the group, he is 9.40 behind Armstrong in 21st position. Botero is 30th at 12.15 but a far better climber. The Postie's are still driving the peloton without panic though at three minutes, the gap is not growing any more on the climb to Côte de Javon.

14.00 CET -

Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2R), a disappointment in this Tour, has abandoned the race. Botero goes for the mountain sprint but Mattan is first, Agnulotto third. The gap to the peloton is 3.15 now with 72 km to go. Otxoa leads the peloton for a couple of points.

Tim Maloney reports from the top of Mont Ventoux wind at some 50 kph with gusts to 70. A clear sky with six degrees only, regardless of the wind factor. Brrr.

14.10 CET -

The race is rolling along now toward the nest climb Col de Notre-Dame-des-Abeilles when some 50 kilometres are left of the race. The gap is four minutes.

The Tom Simpson memorial some kilometres from the top is almost covered by tyres, caps and all other items from cycling fans honouring the English World Champion who died here during the Tour, 33 years ago today. His daughter rode all the way up the Ventoux earlier this year commemorating her father. Some 100 000 people are estimated to line the mountain ride called the worst climb there is by Leif Mortensen, Luis Ocaña's right hand during several Tours. And some other rider agrees probably. You don't have to be Danish to hate this mountain.

14.25 CET -

The nine front riders have started the third category climb to Col de Notre-Dame-des-Abeilles at 99 km with 50 km to go. The gap is 4.45 now when the peloton starts the climb with Vasseur, Kjaergaard, Andreu and Joachim in the front. Hamilton and Livingston are being saved for later use. Ekimov right now giving orders to the front guys. Banesto advances now and starts driving now while Vinokuorov is conferencing up front with his team car.

14.30 CET -

The Banesto riders in the front group don't help now while their team mates are speeding up the peloton. The gap is closing to 4.20 now. Arrieta stops to take a leak probably with orders to wait for the peloton. Banesto's ambition might be to rid Armstrong of some team mates.

14.35 CET -

The front group is passing a short stretch of down hill before the final climb to the Notre Dame. Mattan is discussing with Garcia Acosta, wants him to help but of course he is jjust tagging along since his team mates are driving the peloton hard now, the gap has come down to 3.30. Mattan, Agnulotto and Botero sprints for the mountain points, passing in that order. Also ONCE's Nicolas Jalabert is rolling along in the back of the group. 50 kms to go for the front group.

14.40 CET -

There is a little category four climb left before the Ventoux climb starts. Right now the riders are rolling downwards however. Otxoa took some points on the mountain as well, Virenque not interested which is promising for those who want to see him go for the general classification, for the yellow jersey, on Mont Ventoux. Gap 3.57 at 42 kms to go.

14.45 CET -

Bortolami (Vini Caldirola) has also abandoned earlier today. Blaudzun is reported to have hurt himself on that early crash. He came up on the bike but stopped after a while. The field on the flat now, it's Vini Caldirola was rolling fastest downhill with Romans Vainsteins in a black bandana up front. Wesemann (Telekom) is also along up there.

14.58 CET -

On the little climb now Banesto is back up front. It's open terrain here so the wind grabs the riders and some are having problems. On the climb to Mormoiron Garcia Acosta and Nicolas Jalabert are resting in the back. Mattan attacks for the mountain prime with Botero as second. Herve third.

15.02 CET -

The Banesto led peloton is 2.34 behind the group now. In the front group Botero and Kivilev are the best climbers but it remains to see if they are good enough to hold the big 'uns off up the mont Ventoux where the weather still is clear, windy and cold. Question is if Banesto have achieved so much with their hard tempo. Even the heaviest rider at 92 kilograms, Magnus Bäckstedt (CA) is spotted at the back of the peloton so if Banesto wanted to hang off some Posties the probably haven't. But worn them a bit of course.

15.10 CET -

At the foot of the final climb now, 21 kilometres to the finish. Police reports say 300 000 people are lining the road. 75 000 vehicles are parked along the passage. Many of them have camped overnight. No hooligans in sight.

In the race Banesto is back at the front in the peloton but now the major riders are seeking positions for the final climb. In the group Mattan is pushing the remaining Banesto rider to make him go up and work.

15.15 CET -

The group taking it easy in the beginning now with 21 km to go. The gap at the foot now 1.38, with Banesto working for Jimenez obviously. Moreau (Festina) is advancing, he is third overall. Agnolotto attacks now in the front group but the others pulls him in.

15.20 CET -

High speed in the peloton. Armstrong advancing in the peloton but still Banesto at the front. Telekom also advancing for Ullrich. Armstrong has at least four mates along. Only Pantani looms farther behind. Bo Hamburger in the red and white champions jersey. It's Baranowski leading the pack only Zulle and Jimenez remains with him at the front.

15.25 CET -

Hamilton and Livingston remain with Armstrong behind Ullrich right now. Still Baranowski, Zulle and Jimenez from Banesto up front. Less than a minute to the front group now. Pantani is advancing fast without the bandana. He takes Armstrong's wheel. Velo is also coming along with Pantani. The Posties take the front now: Hamilton, Livingston and Armstrong while Olano is left behind. The peloton now some 30-40 riders as they catch Nicolas Jalabert and now also Agnulotto.

15.30 CET -

Zulle in trouble now but Jalabert is still along and so is Moreau (Festina), Beloki (Festina) and Virenque but where is "Chaba" Jimenez? Mattan is caught now. Of the front group Vinokourov, Botero and Hervé remains, but not Kivilev. They have 30 seconds now. Escartin and Jimenez in the back of the main group, some 15 men, trailing Hamilton, Livingston, Armstrong and then Ullrich. Zulle and Moreau are off in the back with little Piepoli.

15.35 CET -

Vinokuorov attacks up front and Botero comes along and leaves Vino behind but they have only 16 seconds now to Hamilton who still leads the main group. Escartin cannot follow and neither Jimenez are able to follow. And Pantani has had enough now. The only ones that follow Livingston and Armstrong are Ullrich, Beloki and Virenque. Hamilton is done. Only Botero lasts up the road. But now Pantani comes back as does Jalabert and Vinokuorov tags along. A bit easier tempo now it seems.

15.40 CET -

Stone face Jalabert is behind again. A suffering Pantani on the last wheel of the group now behind "Vino" and Pantani passes him when the gap opens. Heras is still along up there and Botero is caught so Kelme has two riders. Jalabert is once again coming back.

Heras attacks, Armstrong follows and tightens the gap. Virenque follows with Ullrich, Beloki and Botero are along. Pantani is left behind but might catch up again. He is going at an even pace. 10 km to go.

15.45 CET -

Ullrich up front now, looking back at Beloki. "Won't you help me?". They all look good, trying to keep their nerves under control. Armstrong's message at the Heras attack was quite clear: "I'll cover anything". Pantani once again closing in. Jalabert farther back at 15 seconds. And Armstrong advances now and takes Ullrich's wheel.

15.50 CET -

We're close to the bald part of the mountain when Ullrich stretches the group. He looks back, seeing a cool Armstrong on his wheel with the face of a mopedist. Beloki, Botero, Heras and Virenque follows. That's all because Pantani is 24 seconds behind now. It's getting steeper now.

15.55 CET -

Ullrich raises the tempo in a bend, Armstrong covers and he rides heavier gears today than on Hautacam in the Pyrenees. Ullrich keeps looking around on the way to Chalet Reynard where the vegetation ceases. Beloki attacks with seven kilometres to go and Virenque hangs on while Armstrong is at the back of the group. Pantani once again closing in at six seconds only!

16.00 CET -

It's Virenque driving up the tempo when the Pirate Pantani comes from behind, rests for some 30 seconds and the attacks! The others hang on but then he raises the tempo again. Heras tries to follow with Ullrich and Virenque is in trouble. They are in the moon landscape now. Botero tightens the gap finally. Then Pantani attacks again in the next bend and now Virenque has to give in when 5 kilometres last. The others hangs along though and even Virenque comes back but then Pantani attacks again. Beloki cannot cover and Virenque once again loses ground.

16.05 CET -

Ullrich takes the front now with Armstrong and Pantani following and then Beloki, Heras and Botero. Pantani attacks again and no one tries even to follow him. No one. Armstrong concentrates on Ullrich. Pantani stands up with his hands in the hooks. Botero bridges up to Pantani, impressing since he has been at the front much longer than the others. But then Pantani attacks again in the ripping wind. Further down Armstrong attacks from fourth wheel in the little group. He rushes past Botero but still has some ground to cover to Pantani but he catches him too! He passes, says something, and takes the lead with Pantani on the wheel.

16.10 CET -

Armstrong stands up but Pantani is able to follow but not more. Ullrich trying to catch up now with Heras and Beloki tagging along. And so is Pantani at the front, he goes up now to help Armstrong, there is no attack. They have 19 seconds to Ullrich at al. Pantani rides in pink in this race since yellow dresses aren't allowed. Finally Armstrong gets some metres but Pantani is able to come back, he is suffering now. Armstrong raises in the pedals now but the little bald Italian is still along.

16.14 CET -

Even Armstrong looks a bit strained. Pantani is riding behind when the road is getting steeper. There is a short straight and Pantani wins the stage almost unopposed. I think Armstrong gave him the victory for helping out up there in putting some more seconds to Ullrich.

Preliminary results:

1. Marco Pantani (Ita) Mercatone Uno   4.15.11 
2. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 
3. Joseba Beloki (Spa) Festina            0.25 
4. Jan Ullrich (Ger) Telekom              0.29 
5. Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme            0.48 

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