87th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 1 - 23, 2000
Stage 15 - July 16: Briancon - Courchevel, 173.5 km
Start time: 12:21
Welcome to stage 15 of the 87th Tour de France. Today is the second of three Alpine stages that are broken up by a rest day tomorrow. The 173.5 km race route is much shorter than yesterday's epic 249 km ride from Draguignan to Briancon but it is certainly no less difficult. The riders start with the mighty Galibier climb, although it is the 'easier' 8.4 km @ 6.9% side. A few tired legs will likely be making their way toward the autobus on this first ascent, with two more to come.
Today there are two intermediate sprints, counting for the usual 6, 4 and 2 bonus points: Saint-Avre (km 89.5), Aigueblanch (km 140.5) as well as the finish in Courchevel. The climbs are few but big. The Col du Galibier (HC, km 33) starts the proceedings, followed by the Col de la Madeleine (HC, km 110.5) and the finish at Courchevel (Cat. 1, km 173.5).
12:23 CET - 0.0 km
As the riders start in Briancon at 12:23, the cyclingnews.com car was at the top of the Galibier, where Tim Maloney gave us the following report.
It is very cold up here, colder than forecast - approximately 3 degrees with high clouds. Unlike last year there's a nice fresh coat of snow on the Galibier. The riders aren't going to be too happy about this and we could well see them staying together for warmth, with a lot of to-ing and fro-ing from the team cars for jackets.
12:36 CET - 7.0 km
The first climb is called the Col du Lautaret, with its 'summit' at 24.0 km. It is really part of long ascent of the Galibier, the highest point of this year's Tour. At one kilometre from the top, there is a special prize, the 'Souvenir Henri Desgrange' named after the father of the Tour de France. It is awarded to the first person past this point on the highest mountain of the Tour each year.
The 141 rider peloton are still together after 7 kilometres of racing.
12:47 CET - 12.0 km
Laurent Jalabert (ONCE) hasn't given up the fight yet, despite finishing in the autobus (last group) yesterday. He puts in a little surge as the road steepens, causing a momentary split in the peloton, however is not able to go free.
Tim Maloney reports from the bottom of the Col de la Madeleine that the clouds start at about 1500 m (the climb has its summit at 2000 metres).
12:58 CET - 15.0 km
The riders are spread across the road, and there is certainly no urgency or any particular team taking charge at the moment. Further back, the two Festina riders, Christophe Moreau and Joseba Beloki (3rd and 4th overall) are chatting with one another. Beloki still has his left elbow bandaged up but looks comfortable at the moment. So too does the pirate, Marco Pantani who is once more clad in pink with his trademark bandana.
13:08 CET - 19.5 km
Mapei's Stefano Zanini tries an attack, and gains 9 seconds to the peloton, who are currently averaging 26 km/h on the uphill slopes of the Lautaret and the Galibier.
13:17 CET - 24.0 km
Zanini is caught and another counter move comes from Agnolutto and nine others, but this also doesn't last that long under the impetus of the US Postal team and the upward gradient. The peloton are fewer now, but still riding 'en bloc'. They have almost gone past the Col du Lautaret.
13:28 CET - 26.0 km
There is no real organisation at the front. Lance Armstrong's yellow jersey is clearly visible in the second row, while Danish champion Bo Hamburger (Memorycard Jack&Jones) sits in the lead.
Farm Frites' Robbie McEwen showed himself at the front for a short while, although he does not particularly enjoy these stages. He was quoted on Belgian TV yesterday:
"This is irresponsible. They are saying they want to make the Tour easier and than they give us a stage like today, with these climbs...I am simply too tired."
Belgian TV also interviewed US Postal team director, Johan Bruyneel this morning, and according to him, nobody is complaining in his team.
"The team is still excited and really loving this Tour. There are no complaints about the stages being too hard; this IS the the Tour."
13:44 CET - 29.0 km
The next attack comes from Kelme's Javier Otxoa and Banesto's Jose Maria Jimenez. Both are not threat in the overall standings, but would like to gain some mountain points, and the souvenir Henri Desgrange in 4 km time. Kelme would like to keep Santiago Botero in the polka dot jersey, and it seems Richard Virenque is going for a podium spot instead. The climber's standings today: Botero (227 points), Otxoa (188), Mattan (158), Virenque (136), Armstrong (92).
13:48 CET - 30.5 km
Otxoa and Jimenez are joined by Pascual Llorente (Kelme) and Daniele Nardello (Mapei), and the quartet have a 30 second gap to the bunch with 3km to the summit. Behind, the bunch are strung out, led by US Postal with Armstrong in about 5th wheel.
13:57 CET - 32.5 km
There are 13 leaders now, with a 17 second gap on the strung out peloton, led by Postal. Kelme and Banesto are clearly out to put the pressure on early. The 13 are: Vicente Garcia-Acosta, José Maria Jimenez (Banesto), Javier Otxoa, Javier Pascual Llorente (Kelme), Manuel Beltran, Daniele Nardello (Mapei), Peter Luttenberger (O.N.C.E.), Salvatore Commesso (Saeco), Félix Garcia Casas, David Plaza (Festina), Pascal Herve (Team Polti) Roberto Conti (Vini Caldirola)
Leon Van Bon (Rabobank), winner of stage 6 has retired.
14.03 CET - 37.0 km
Pascal Herve (Polti) won the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, while. Just before the top of the Galibier, the peloton came back together and they are descending in one long string down the other side.
The Col du Galibier results were as follows: 1. Herve 2. Botero 3. Conti 4. Otxoa 5. Virenque 6. Pascual-Llorente 7. Armstrong 8. Ullrich 9. Beltran 10. Moreau 11. Jimenez 12. Beloki 13. Garcia-Acosta 14. Escartin 15. Guerini 16. Vinokourov 17. Pantani
14.13 CET - 50.5 km
The peloton en masse have reached Valloire after the first part of the descent of the Galibier.
Tim Maloney reports from further ahead that the weather is improving on the Madeleine, and the wind is picking up. It will be a tailwind for the riders up the Courchevel, so expect a fast finish. It's likely that on the descent of the Madeleine, that Richard Virenque will mount and attack.
14.18 CET - 52.5 km
Salvatore Commesso (Saeco) has attacked on the short rise of the Col du Telegraphe just after Valloire. He has a 40 second lead on the peloton.
For those of you following this in Australia, take a look outside at the moment at the lunar eclipse.
14.29 CET - 57 km
Commesso goes over the small 'bump' that is the Col du Telegraphe, and he is pursued by seven others. Arrieta, Garcia-Acosta, Jimenez (Banesto), Otxoa, Vidal (Kelme), Nardello (Mapei) and Lelli (Cofidis).
14.39 CET - 71 km
The riders are still on the descent of the Telegraph before they reach the ski town of St Jean de Maurienne, where the feed zone is scheduled. Commesso is increasing his lead down the mountain.
The main dangermen in the leading (chasing) group are Otxoa (12th at 12.33) and Nardello (15th at 13.24).
14.48 CET - 78 km
Commesso has now been caught by the seven chasers near the bottom of the descent of the Col du Telegraphe. The gap to the bunch is now 2'03, and looking a little more serious. They should hold this to the base of the Madeleine.
15.04 CET - 86 km/87.5 km to go
The break is now increasing its lead as the peloton passes though the feedzone at St Jean de Maurienne at kilometre 80. The eight rider breakaway has just a few kilometres to go before they start the climb of the Col de la Madeleine (19.3 km at 8%).
15.16 CET - 93 km/80 km to go
The break passes through the sprint at Saint-Avre (km 89.5) with Lelli (Cofidis) taking the 6 points, followed by Commesso (Saeco) and Garcia-Acosta (Banesto). They hit the Madeleine climb with a 5'15 lead on the bunch, who are being led by Telekom and Festina. These two teams have to chase because Oxtoa (12th at 12'33) is threatening the position of Ullrich, Moreau and Beloki.
15.22 CET - 95 km/78.5 km to go
The first part of the 20 km Col de la Madeleine is quite steep, and it does not get much easier. The break are still riding together, but losing some time now.
Heppner is once again doing the hard work for Telekom, and he is bringing the gap down quite well. Armstrong is sitting in about 4th wheel, just behind the Telekom riders.
15.32 CET - 98 km/75.5 km to go
Telekom are riding well to bring this gap down with the other favourites in close proximity. The Madeleine has taken its toll though on Bobby Julich, Erik Dekker, Erik Zabel, and Abraham Olano, who have all drifted out the back.
Meanwhile at the front, Commesso and Vidal have lost contact with the leaders, Arrieta, Garcia-Acosta, Jimenez (Banesto), Otxoa (Kelme), Nardello (Mapei) and Lelli (Cofidis).
15.39 CET - 99.5 km/74 km to go
Arrieta is struggling now, as Naardello, Jimenez and Garcia-Acosta take turns at the front. The break is losing ground to the main peloton all the time though, as we see the crab-like Fernando Escartin come to the front, followed by Ullrich and Armstrong a little way behind. Marco Pantani and Santi Botero (KOM leader) are still in the 25 or so strong group.
15.50 CET - 103 km/70.5 km to go
Escartin and Ullrich are still leading the peloton which is shrinking somewhat. Beloki is in third, and Armstrong fourth or fifth. A group of five are a little way in front of them: Beltran (Mapei), Serrano (ONCE), Moncoutie (Cofidis), Van de Wouwer (Lotto) and Robin (Bonjour).
*A special thank you from cyclingnews to all those who've yelled words of encouragement to the purple cyclingnews.com Fiat as it has passed over the climbs in the past few days!
16.01 CET - 104 km/69.5 km to go
KOM leader Santiago Botero has done it again - he's attacked the peloton, and is now passing through Saint-Francois-Longchamp on his own, 8 km from the top. He has four riders in front of him: Jimenez, Otxoa, Nardello, and Lelli in the lead group, and he has just caught Vicente Garcia Acosta.
16.09 CET - 108.5 km/65 km to go
As the four leaders approach the summit of the Madeleine, dark clouds can be seen ahead. Santi Botero is making great inroads though, and might well catch them for the mountain points at the top.
The main peloton is being led by Polti's Pascal Herve, setting things up for Richard Virenque. There are only 10 left in the yellow jersey group now.
16.15 CET - 112 km/61.5 km to go
Lelli puts in an attack to take the mountain points on top of the Col de la Madeleine, followed by Javier Otxoa, Jimenez, Nardello. Botero takes 4th at 48 seconds. Pascal Herve (Polti) does a lot of work in the chasing group to pull the overall gap back to 1'38. A little further back, Beltran comes over the top in a small group.
Now, a lot of people are expecting an attack by Richard Virenque on the descent of the Madeleine.
16.24 CET - 122 km/51.5 km to go
On the descent of the Madeleine, the leaders drag out their gap again. Javier Otxoa, Botero's teammate, drops back to help his bridging effort.
16.36 CET - 128 km/46 km to go
Jimenez, Nardello, Lelli, Otxoa and Lelli are now together. Garcia Acosta, Boogerd, Serrano, Luttenberger and Van de Wouwer have jumped out of the big group and are about 1'40 behind the five leaders. Botero is the big danger up front.
The maillot jaune group have sat up a bit, and are now about 20 or so strong, with more joining. The gap to them has grown because they are eating and drinking a lot - there will be no time on the flat before the Courchevel.
16.48 CET - 142 km/31.5 km to go
The final sprint in Aigueblanche (km 140.5) is taken by Lelli (Cofidis) from Otxoa (Kelme) and Jimenez (Banesto).
All the leaders are down the mountain now, with two groups of five in front. The peloton have lost another minute coming down. Lance Armstrong just had a chat with Jan Ullrich, presumably asking him if he wants to ride, as Botero is threatening his GC position a little.
Pascal Herve requires a bike change at the back, which may make it hard for Virenque to mount his attack up to Courchevel.
17.00 CET - 148.5 km/25 km to go
We're coming to the foot of the Courchevel now, with the five leaders being towed extremely hard by Javier Otxoa, with Santiago Botero on his wheel. It might not be the type of climb to suit Jose Maria Jimenez, as it is not particularly steep.
At the front of the chasing bunch is Mercatone Uno, as well as Sal Commesso (Saeco) and Kevin Livingston (USPS). Armstrong is about 8th. They're riding hard, but not as hard as the front guys.
Some more on Botero, from El Colombiano (thanks Haroldo Camacho) today: "I had five days working as a domestique. Finally, yesterday I was able to shake loose and show my condition. Things went my way", he said as he dedicated his triumph to his country. "I had the pulse that I would win," he concluded.
17.13 CET - 156 km/17.5 km to go
Less than 20 kilometres left to race, and the five up front are looking good. Otxoa is still driving with Botero on his wheel. Behind him is Jimenez who is riding a noticably smaller gear but looking OK. Lelli is on the back, suffering while Nardello seems to be managing.
Guerini is now leading the peloton followed by Hamilton, Livingston, Armstrong and Ullrich. They are back down to 20 riders, and are closing on the five intermediates (Boogerd et. al).
17.18 CET - 158 km/15.5 km to go
There is an attack by Botero, and Nardello goes with him. Jimenez is trying to get back and does. Lelli and Otxoa are shelled.
17.25 CET - 160 km/13.5 km to go
There is a big attack in the peloton by Pantani, followed by Armstrong and Virenque. 20 metres behind, Ullrich is in difficulty, also Herve, Beloki, Escartin, Heras.
Up front, the second chasing group is shattering, and they are caught by Pantani at al.
Virenque is dropped by Armstrong and Pantani.
17.27 CET - 161.5 km/12 km to go
There's a good chance that Ullrich is going to go to fourth, as he is dropped by the Moreau/Beloki chase group. However, he is making a tremendous effort to limit the damage, and has them pegged at 40 seconds.
17.34 CET - 162.5 km/11.0 km to go
Botero, Nardello and Jimenez are leading things, with Otxoa and Lelli a little back. Armstrong and Pantani are making inroads though, and are now just 1'22 behind with 10 km to race. Another 15-20 secs. back to the Moreau group, with Ullrich 25 seconds in arrears.
17.40 CET - 165 km/8.5 km to go
Otxoa has been caught by Armstrong, Pantani, Heras but he doesn't last long. Lelli as well.
The Moreau group is at 1'54 total, while the Ullrich group is at 2'27. So it looks as though Ullrich will lose his second place to Beloki, but there's still a bit to go.
Up front, Jimenez attacks!
17.43 CET - 165.5 km/8.0 km to go
Just as the front riders were in Courchevel 1850, Jimenez attacked first dropping Botero, and then Nardello. Behind them, Armstrong et al are closing in fast. The gap between Beloki and Ullrich is 33 seconds now.
17.45 CET - 168.5 km/5.0 km to go
Pantani attacks the Armstrong group! Lance can't follow and is back with Heras and Botero.
17.50 CET - 169.5 km/4.0 km to go
Pantani is at 15 seconds and dropping. He will catch Jimenez and should win the stage. Armstrong et al are at 30 seconds.
Beloki is 45 seconds in front of Ullrich now, and into second place overall.
17.53 CET - 171.5 km/2.0 km to go
Marco Pantani has now caught and passed Jimenez. Heras is pulling the yellow jersey at 34 seconds, followed by , Botero and Nardello. The other group is Beloki, Moreau, Escartin, Virenque and Herve. The Ullrich group is Piepoli, Mancebo, Van de Wouwer.
17.55 CET - 172.5 km/1.0 km to go
Pantani is driving through the crowd now, sprinting up to the finish through a wall of humanity. 1 km to go now.
Ullrich is still fighting back.
17.57 CET - 173.5 km/0.0 km to go
Some tourist in a Kelme jersey has ridden onto the course, right behind Pantani but he is rammed into the barriers by a motorcyclist. Marco Pantani wins the stage in 5.34.46 (31.096 km/h). Jimenez next at 0'41. Next is Heras and Armstrong at 0'51, then Nardello at 0'57, Botero at 1'09.
Moreau is really riding hard in front of the group, but Ullrich is closing down. Moreau, Escartin, Virenque at 2'21. Beloki at 2'26.
Ullrich in at 3'21 - he's just retained his second position to Joseba Beloki. Heras has overtaken Virenque though for 5th.
More people have gotten onto the course! This is amazing! A real embarrassment.
1 Marco Pantani (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Albacom 5.34.46 2 José Maria Jimenez (Spa) Banesto 0.41 3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 0.50 4 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 5 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1.00 6 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca 1.09 7 Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis 2.17 8 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 2.21 9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina 10 Richard Virenque (Fra) Team Polti 11 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Festina 2.26 12 Pascal Herve (Fra) Team Polti 2.42 13 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto 3.16 14 Kurt Van De Wouwer (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 3.20 15 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 3.21 16 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Banesto 3.36 17 Javier Otxoa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 3.44 18 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 4.01 19 Roberto Conti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec General classification after stage 15: 1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 66.38.09 2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 7.26 3 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Festina 7.28 4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina 8.22 5 Roberto Heras (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 8.25 6 Marco Pantani (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Albacom 9.03 7 Richard Virenque (Fra) Team Polti 9.57 8 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca 10.19 9 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 12.27 10 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto 12.43 11 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 12.44 12 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 13.34 13 Pascal Herve (Fra) Team Polti 14.40 14 Javier Otxoa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 15.23