87th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 1 - 23, 2000

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Complete live report

Stage 16 - July 18: Courchevel - Morzine, 196 km

Start time: 11:34
Estimated finish time: 17:10

Today's stage 16 of the Tour de France starts in sunny Courchevel, the last day that the riders face in the high Alps. The peloton will enjoy a downhill start for the first 50 kilometres into Albertville before the roads head up once more. The first climb to be tackled is the cat. 1 Col des Saises (15.1 km at 6.5%) at the 80 kilometre point, followed by the smaller category 2 Col des Aravis (8.2 km at 6.4%) after 106 km. Then comes the 11.6 km Col de la Colombiere, another category 1 climb averaging 6% (km 131.0). The short rise of the category 3 Col de Chatillon at km 158 will not be much compared to the Col de Joux-Plane at km 184.5 (12 km at 8.4%). After this, the riders descend into the finish in Morzine.

After a minute's silence for the boy killed last Friday in a car accident, the riders get under way in a calm fashion at 11:34 am. There were no overnight withdrawals, so 137 riders are still left in the race.

11:49 CET - 9.0 km

There is a fall in the peloton early on - Marco Pantani, winner of the previous two stages goes down, as does Santiago Botero and Marcos Serrano (ONCE). The latter is receiving medical attention, while the former are back on their bikes and chasing.

The peloton are descending now, and yellow jersey Lance Armstrong can be seen near the front, staying out of trouble.

12:00 CET - 20.0 km

They're at the bottom of the main descent now from Courchevel, and have some 30 kilometres more of gradual downhill into Albertville. Salvatore Commesso waves to the huge crowd gathered in the sunshine of the valley.

There is bad luck for ONCE's Marcos Serrano, as he is now out of the race with a suspected broken collarbone. He is being taken to hospital in Moutiers. ONCE's Abraham Olano has just punctured as well, and teammate Laurent Jalabert stops to help. Maybe he is feeling guilty about David Canada, who had to wait 15 minutes at the end of stage 14 (into Briancon) because he punctured while just behind ONCE's car 1. Where was car 2? Back with Jalabert at 36 mins... Luckily, US Postal gave him a wheel that fitted and he could finish the stage.

Marco Pantani and Santiago Botero, who also fell, are now back in the race.

12:13 CET - 25.0 km

The peloton files around a roundabout as one along the wide alpine roads. They have 24 kilometres to go until the first sprint in Albertville, once of two today (the second one is in Taninges (km 162)).

The leader in the points competition is clearly Erik Zabel, going for his fifth green jersey in the Tour de France. He has 214 points compared with Vini Caldirola's Romans Vainsteins on 110 and therefore looks impregnable, barring an accident.

12:24 CET

Still no attacks yet as the bunch cruises along toward Albertville. There will be plenty to come though following that, with three major climbs to overcome.

Kelme's Santiago Botero and his teammate Javier Otxoa look to have the mountains competition sewn up this year. Botero now has 296 points, Otxoa 249 and Richard Virenque 180. Despite his efforts in winning two stages, Mercatone's Marco Pantani is only 8th, on 94 points.

12:37 CET - 38.0 km

Peloton cruising en masse, there is no hurry yet. But wait, Farm Frites rider, Robbie McEwen puts in an attack!

For those of you who are Botero fans, hear is a little more info on this year's likely Colombian King of the Mountains. (Courtesy of Elcolombiano.com and Haroldo Camacho):

Eight years ago, Santiago Botero was near death in an accident suffered on the Alto de Las Palmas (a steep climb in Colombia near Medellín which he has characterised as his favorite training route). He was run over by a taxi. The driver stopped, picked him up, rushed him to a emergency room where he was operated on his skull...The "memories" of that accident are still visible on his scalp...

Two years ago, he successfully completed a diplomate in Business Administration from the University of Medellín (Colombia).

When asked about his upcoming marriage: "I'll be married on the 28th of October to Catalina Laverde, after the hustle and bustle of the Tour of Spain. She is a graduate of EAFIT (a Colombian university), and a niece of Anita, the ex-physiotherapist of Atlético Nacional (a Colombian soccer team)."

12:40 CET - 40.0 km

There is a counter move by Ag2r's Pascal Chanteur, but the peloton are right onto him. A Bonjour and a Telekom rider do the chasing, and this causes a little gap in the bunch. It seems as though the party has stopped and the riders are strung out. McEwen's attack is over.

12:46 CET - 44.0 km

US Postal have started to set the tempo early on, as the bunch circumnavigates another roundabout. 5 kilometres to go until the first sprint, and Erik Zabel's green jersey is clearly seen near the front behind Armstrong's yellow.

12:57 CET - 50.0 km

The peloton have settled down a little, and Postal withdraw from the front. Zabel's Telekom mates are getting ready, and they lead him out but Robbie McEwen (Farm Frites) takes the points in the sprint. Zabel is second, and Francois Simon (Bonjour) third. The latter promptly attacks as the road now rises.

13:03 CET - 54.0 km

Simon doesn't last too long out there, and there is a counter by a Telekom rider and Ag2r's Kivilev, who take a Kelme along for a while. They too do not last long, but another move follows, this time from Sal Commesso (Saeco) and Kelme's Javier Pascual Lllorente.

At the rear of the peloton, Robbie McEwen is seen after his effort in the sprint. Also Festina's David Plaza pulls out of the race.

13:10 CET - 57.0 km

There is no respite now, as the road continues upward until the top of the Col de Saises (km 80). It steepens at the 63 kilometre point, so there is a little way to go. Comesso and Llorente lengthen their lead to half a minute, with US Postal mainly controlling the peloton behind.

13:18 CET - 63.0 km

Lance Armstrong is seen talking to his radio near the front of the Postal-led peloton. Benoit Joachim, the Luxembourg champion is doing a fair bit up the front for the Posties. They are not riding hard yet though, as Commesso and Llorente continue to increase their lead. It is close to a minute now.

13:28 CET - 68.0 km

Marco Pantani is frisky early on in the climb as he launches an attack with Jose Maria Jimenez and Kelme's Javier Otxoa. This is a surprise move indeed! He drops the latter riders and is heading off toward Commesso and Llorente.

13:30 CET - 69.5 km

Rider number 71, Marco Pantani has quickly reached the leaders, Llorente and Commesso and wastes no time in passing them. Further back, Botero has launched a counter attack. The bunch is led by Polti's Pascal Herve and is really splitting up now.

13:35 CET - 70.5 km

The reactions are coming from Joseba Beloki who tries to bridge up to the Botero group. The Jimenez quartet have gone back to the pack.

13:39 CET - 72 km

Marco Pantani, riding with a reversed cap and sunglasses down leads the race with Javier Pascual Llorente, after they've dropped Salvatore Commesso. The peloton are chasing quite hard, as is to be expected. A bold move from the pirate, but obviously he's feeling good today.

13:45 CET - 74 km

And there goes Llorente off Pantani's rear wheel. The Mercatone Uno rider is out of the saddle now with about 7 km to go until the top of this category one climb. Behind him the main peloton have not yet regrouped. Escartin and Ullrich are pushing the pace, with the yellow jersey of Armstrong clearly visible. Moreau is there as well, but his teammate is up the road a little.

13:50 CET - 75.5 km

The bunch are more or less together, when Fernando Escartin attacks! He bridges up to Herve and Llorente - all that are left of the earlier chase groupo. It doesn't seem to bother Pantani though, as he keeps his 40 plus second lead.

13:58 CET - 78.5 km

Pantani is nearing the top of the Col de Saises now, still powering away a minute in front. He has 35 seconds on the Escartin group, who in turn have 30 seconds on the Armstrong group. Christophe Moreau can be seen looking up the road in his typical fashion.

14:01 CET - 81 km

Pantani holds his lead to the top, and begins the descent. The three chasers have not made any ground on him, with Escartin taking second, and Llorente third. Armstrong's group is about 25 strong.

14:11 CET - 88 km

Marco Pantani has waited for his three pursuers as the descend the Col des Saises. He will need all the help he can get for the coming climbs if he is to make any impression on the GC.

14:16 CET - 96 km/ 101 km to go

They have caught him now as they commence the next climb, the category 2 Col des Aravis. The main bunch us still 57 seconds back and holding. The front four are reduced to three as Llorente has problems following.

The results of the Col des Saises: 1. Pantani 30pts 2. Escartin at 31" 3. Pascual-Llorente 4. Herve 5. Virenque at 1'03" 6. Botero 7. Otxoa 8. Millar 9. Hamilton 10. Livingston 11. Armstrong 12. Beloki 13. Ullrich 14. Moreau

14:30 CET - 102 km/ 94.5 km to go

As the Postal-led peloton (Livingston and Hamilton are the only ones left) ascend the Col des Aravis, Lance Armstrong is looking comfortable in third wheel. He is closely marked by Telekom's Guerini and Ullrich. However, once his teammates depart he will be alone and no-one is likely to ride in pursuit of the three up the road. This could turn out to be a very tough race at the end for Armstrong.

Other riders in Armstrong's group: Hamilton, Livingston, Jimenez, Mancebo, Botero, Heras, Otxoa, Pascual-Llorente, Beltran, Nardello, Boogerd, Luttenberger, Ullrich, Bolts, Guerini, Vinokourov, Brignoli, Forconi, Velo, Kivilev, Atienza, Commesso, Moreau, Beloki, Garcia-Casas, Lelli, Millar, Aerts, Van de Wouwer, Conti, Trentin, Rous.

14:40 CET - 105 km/ 91.5 km to go

Note: Richard Virenque is also in the group with Armstrong, however Commesso and Millar are no longer. Tyler Hamilton and Kevin Livingston are still on the front.

The leaders have approximately 1'10 as they crest the category 2 Col des Aravis.

14:52 CET - 114 km/ 82.5 km to go

The results of the second climb are as follows: 1. Pantani 20pts 2. Escartin 3. Herve 4. Virenque (1'12) 5. Otxoa 6. Botero 7. Livingston 8. Hamilton 9. Armstrong 10. Ullrich.

There's not long to go now before the category one Col de la Colombiere starts, and the gap is still around a minute. Pantani is the best placed of the three, as he is 6th at 9.03. Armstrong's other allies later on will be Telekom and Festina should they stick together.

15:00 CET - 121 km/ 75.5 km to go

The three leaders have started the Col de la Colombiere now and have 1'15 on the Livingston-Hamilton led peloton. No-one is giving an inch here. Jimenez is sitting on Armstrong's wheel, and the yellow jersey looks fairly comfortable at the moment. Looks can be deceiving of course.

15:08 CET - 123 km/ 73.5 km to go

The gap is increasing under the efforts of the front three, setting things up for a great battle on the Col de Joux-Plane. The summit of the Colombiere is 8 km away for the leaders. Pantani has changed his bike for a lighter one.

Alex Zulle, currently 37th at 57.07 has had a torrid time of it in this year's Tour. He was interviewed on Belgian TV this morning as to how he felt: "I'm sick and don't feel good. I have to see every day how it is. The whole year was prepared for the Tour, but I'm not perfect now. I'm not satisfied and feel bad. I hope to be good in the Vuelta, so I can go to Sydney for the time trial."

15:22 CET - 128.5 km/ 68 km to go

The situation, with 3 km to the top of the Colombiere: Pantani, Escartin and Herve have 1'16 on a group containing Armstrong, Ullrich, Beloki, Moreau, Virenque and most of the other favourites. The peloton is Hamilton and Livingston led, with Armstrong 3rd, Jimenez 4th, and Telekom's Guerini and Ullrich right behind.

Another rider to abandon is ONCE's Nicolas Jalabert. Laurent and Abraham will be the only ones left at this rate! Luttenberger and Canada are still left, but it's a far cry from the nine-man squad that won stage 4.

15:27 CET - 132 km/ 64.5 km to go

Herve is not working, which is limiting the effectiveness of the group. Pantani was first over, followed by Escartin and Herve. Virenque attacks near the top to try and bridge up. He has a good gap now and will try and get across to Herve and they might be able to put some more time into the peloton.

The average speed up till now is approximately 34 km/h

15:40 CET - 140.5 km/ 56 km to go

Christophe Moreau follows the attack of Virenque, along with Botero and Otxoa. They have a small gap on the yellow jersey bunch in pursuit of the three leaders.

Results of the Col de la Colombiere: 1. Pantani 30pts 2. Escartin 3. Herve 4. Virenque at 59" 5. Botero 6. Otxoa 7. Livingston 8. Bolts 9. Armstrong 10. Beltran 11. Moreau 12. Ullrich 13. Beloki 14. Viniokourov 15. Hamilton 16. Conti 17. Rous

15:50 CET - 153 km/ 43.3 km to go

The peloton is finally all together at the bottom of the descent of the Colombiere. Except that is for Bonjour's Didier Rous, who has attacked. He is joined by Kivilev (Ag2r) and Trentin (Vini Caldirola).

So the Joux-Plane will now determine who spent more energy - Pantani/Escartin/Herve, or Lance Armstrong and his two Postal teammates.

15:54 CET - 154.5 km/ 42.3 km to go

Now, Pascal Herve has attacked again to bridge up to Rous et al.

16:00 CET - 158 km/ 38.5 km to go

The category 3 Côte de Chatillon-sur-Cluses (km 158): Kivilev, Rous, and Trentin. Herve crosses next. The peloton is being led once more by Hamilton.

16:08 CET - 163.5 km/ 33 km to go

Herve's attempt to bridge is not successful and he drops back to the pack. Andrei Kivilev receives a drink from his teamcar, just before the second intermediate sprint in Taninges (km 162). The results of that one: Rous (6 pts), Kivilev (4 pts), Trentin (2 pts).

*Botero took fourth on the climb, followed by Hamilton. Peloton being led by US Postal and Telekom.

16:14 CET - 169.5 km/ 27 km to go

Some steady riding now in the bunch as the three escapees are allowed some leeway. Telekom's Guerini and Postal's Hamilton/Livingston are leading Armstrong, followed by Jimenez, Baranowski, and Ullrich.

16:19 CET - 172 km/ 24.5 km to go

The trio is just hitting the first slopes of the Col de Joux-Plane, the final climb of the day (12 km at 8.4%). Kivilev is attacking hard and puts Trentin out the back. The Bolts/Guerini/Livingston/Hamilton led bunch prepare for the final major climb of this year's Tour de France.

16:22 CET - 174 km/ 22.5 km to go

Kivilev is on his own now, and Rous and Trentin are going backwards.

16:28 CET - 176 km/ 20.3 km to go

Pantani seems to have had it for the day, as he drifts off the back of Armstrong's group which is thinned down to 8. Could this be a chance for Lance to win a road stage? Heras, Ullrich, Escartin and Virenque are also there, but not Jimenez.

16:31 CET - 177 km/ 19.3 km to go

Pantani seems to have had it for the day, as he drifts off the back of Armstrong's group which is thinned down to 8. Could this be a chance for Lance to win a road stage? Heras, Ullrich, Escartin and Virenque are also there, but not Jimenez. Ullrich is trying hard here - he may gain some time on Beloki and Moreau.

16:35 CET - 179 km/ 17.5 km to go

Virenque just pulled his foot and almost fell off. Heras has caught Trentin, and is about 15 seconds ahead of the Ullrich led group. The German is looking great and in better shape than Armstrong at the moment. Beloki and Moreau are nowhere to be seen, but Heras is a real threat to Ullrich's second position.

16:39 CET - 179 km/ 15.5 km to go

Heras has 4 km to go to the top. Virenque and Ullrich are riding ahead of Armstrong who has been definitively dropped. Now, Virenque attacks Ullrich!

16:44 CET - 180.5 km/ 14.0 km to go

Heras leads Virenque at 22 seconds, Ullrich at 27 seconds. Armstrong at 1'11 being caught by Escartin, and Beloki.

16:49 CET - 182.5 km/ 14.0 km to go

Virenque and Heras have 25 seconds on Ullrich who is trying to keep them in sight.Armstrong is about 1'20 down on Heras. This is a great ride by Virenque who looks set to try and win the stage.

16:53 CET - 184.5 km/ 12.0 km to go

Top of the climb now, and Armstrong keeps losing time. He is nearly at the top though.

16:59 CET - 188.5 km/ 8.0 km to go

KOM: Virenque, then Heras. Ullrich changed his bike at the top, and went over at 39 seconds but is now gaining rapidly - he had problems with his gears before. Then at 1'03 were Beloki/Escartin, and over 2 minutes to Armstrong's group.

17:02 CET - 190.5 km/ 6.0 km to go

Ullrich is still at 25 seconds, the Beloki group is at 1 minute, and the Armstrong group at 2 minutes. Virenque is trying to gap Heras on the descent, because Heras is the better sprinter and hasn't been doing a lot of work.

17:02 CET - 193.5 km/ 3.0 km to go

Heras cramped slightly, and stretched out but is at the front of Virenque. Ullrich is at 15 seconds. The Lance grouop is at 1.42. Moreau crashed, but got up and is back on his bike.

17:04 CET - 195 km/ 1.5 km to go

Virenque is asking Heras why he's not riding - reason? Heras crashed at the bottom of the descent. Bike is broken. Virenque is riding to a solo victory.

17:08 CET - 196.5 km/ 0.0 km to go

Ullrich caught and passed Heras and is powering for second at 23 seconds, Heras third at 26. Once again, Ullrich saves his second place. Escartin wins the sprint for fourth (1'07), Beloki (1'09), Herve (1'10).

Trentin, Armstrong, Moreau, Botero at 2'01. Then Mancebo, Otxoa and Beltran at 2'26. Then Nardello at 2'54


1 Richard Virenque (Fra) Polti  	     5.32.20
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 	0.24
3 Roberto Heras (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 	0.27
4 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 	1.09
5 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Festina 			1.11
6 Pascal Herve (Fra) Team Polti 
7 Guido Trentin (Ita) Vini Caldirola		2.01
8 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina
10 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca
11 Francesco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto		2.26
12 Javier Otxoa (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
13 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step
14 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step	2.54

General classification after stage 16:

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service   72.12.30
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 	5.37
3 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Festina 			6.38
4 Roberto Heras (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 	6.43
5 Richard Virenque (Fra) Team Polti 		7.36
6 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina 		8.22
7 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca     10.19
8 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca   11.35
9 Francesco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto	       13.07
10 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step       13.08

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