87th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 1 - 23, 2000

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Complete live report

Stage 18 - July 20: Lausanne - Fribourg-En-Brisgau, 246.5 km

Start time: 11:09
Estimated finish time: 17:19

Welcome to stage 18 of the Tour de France, the fourth last stage and one that takes the riders from Switzerland into Germany. It is the third longest stage of the Tour, and there are a few difficulties to break things up.

First of all, the intermediate sprints are at Dompierre (Switzerland, km 45) and Sitzenkirch (Germany, km 200.5). The climbs number four today, and are all in the last half of the race. They are the Côte de Oberer-Hauenstein (Cat. 3, km 139), Côte de Fullinsdorf (Cat. 4, km 161), Côte de Waidhof (Cat. 3, km 181), and the Côte de Lörrach (Cat. 4, km 187). The stage overall is downhill, a welcome relief to the tired peloton.

11:23 CET - 3.0 km

The riders have started a little late (11:17), but have lost no time in attacking. Ag2r's Christophe Agnolutto starts the ball rolling as usual, and he is chased by Vicente Garcia-Acosta and Pascual Llorente as usual. Lance Armstrong decides to chase the three down - there'll be none of that!

Only one rider failed to start today, and that was Banesto's diminuitive climber, Leonardo Piepoli. There are now 129 riders in the race.

11:31 CET - 7.0 km

The next attack comes from five riders: Vinokourov (Telekom), Commesso (Saeco), Durand (Lotto), Voigt (CA) and Robin (Bonjour). They have a 25 second lead after 7 kilometres of racing.

11:41 CET - 17.0 km

This looks a little more serious now, as the gap approaches a minute. Vini Caldirola's Romans Vainsteins is attempting to chase.

11:48 CET - 22.0 km

The wind has now shifted now to the northwest, which means the riders will have it in their faces for much of the day. This break has been taken seriously by Rabobank, who have put their whole team on the front to bring it back. Maybe Dekker feels like a fourth win?

Jim Ochowiz, former Motorola and USPS team manager, told cyclingnews this morning that he expected a big win from Lance in tomorrow's 58.5 km time trial. Big? We shall see.

11:56 CET - 26.6 km

Well, the Rabobank chase has not done much good, as the five are now 2'50 in front of the peloton. One of them, Salvatore Commesso (Saeco) is really keen for a stage win. He told cyclingnews this morning that he was "a little pissed off" that he hadn't had success. Not for lack of trying!

The results of this morning's blood test? All negative after 29 riders from six teams were tested. Rabobank, Saeco, Telekom, Mapei, Vini Caldirola and Festina were the teams.

12:01 CET - 30.0 km

The peloton have sat up and are at 6 minutes now - this is likely to blow out to 15-20 minutes. Telekom will have to do the chasing later on if they are to set up Zabel for a German stage win.

12:07 CET - 32.0 km

Coming into Payerne, and the lead of Durand, Voigt, Commesso, Vinokourov and Robin continues to grow. It is now up to 8'10 and growing. Vinokourov is the best placed on GC, 21st @ 40:10. Robin is 25th @ 49:15.

12:25 CET - 47.0 km

11'30 and climbing, as the riders cross the first sprint at Dompierre. Durand, Robin and Commesso crossed in that order.

As the peloton passed by, Tim reports that Erik Zabel was on the front, and was talking to the US Postal guys asking them to ride. Obviously, Vinokourov is acting as a policeman in the break, as Telekom want to set it up for Zabel. It's already looking like a long chase, but there's still 200 km to go.

12:38 CET - 55.0 km

Clearly, Zabel's words have had little effect as the lead is now 15 minutes at kilometre 55.

12:44 CET - 60.0 km

The peloton could well let this gap get to half an hour before anyone decides to do anything. Banesto, Kelme, US Postal and Rabobank are definitely not interested at the moment. Who will help Zabel win in his fatherland?

13:04 CET - 73.0 km

Despite stopping for a toilet break at 66 km, the five leaders have increased their advantage to 20 minutes. All are working now, as Alexandre Vinokourov has been given permission by his team. The riders in this break are quite capable of holding their own until the finish.

13:24 CET - 80.0 km

It's still "piano" in the peloton, while the five leaders get closer to the feed zone at Buren-An-Der-Aare (km 94.5). By the time the bunch passes through, it'll be apple strudel time!

13:42 CET - 97.5 km

The break are not riding hard yet, but are still 15 kilometres in front of the peloton. The five leaders are averaging 39 km/h, while the bunch has managed to plod along at 34 km/h.

14:13 CET - 115 km

The leaders are continuing to make ground on the lethargic peloton, as they now approach a seemingly insurmountable half hour lead. The riders in the bunch really wanted an easy day today before tomorrow's time trial. Sooner or later, someone has to take the initiative. Alexandre Vinokourov could even move into the top 10 at this rate! He is currently 8th with his present advantage.

14:36 CET - 131 km

The race is now past the halfway point, for the five leaders at any rate. They are currently averaging 39.5 km/h and should be able to hold this for the next 115 km. They escaped after just 3 kilometres, meaning that this will likely be the longest break of the Tour.

14:58 CET - 141 km/105 km to go

The last time check was 25'30 and it appears to have stabilised as the leaders ride up the first climb of the day, the category 3 Cote de Oberer-Hauenstein (139 km). Farm Frites, Festina, Kelme and La Francaise des Jeux are the main teams starting the chase in the bunch.

It's quite hot though today, with temperatures at the finish expected to be 30 degrees Celsius.

15:10 CET - 146 km/100 km to go

The gap is surely coming down now, under the combined chase of several teams. The leaders are past 146 km with exactly 100 km to travel. However, the peloton needs to pick up 14 seconds per kilometre to reel them in.

The results of the first climb (Cote de Oberer-Hauenstein): 1. Robin (Bonjour) 10pts 2. Durand (Lotto) 7pts 3. Vinokourov (Telekom) 5pts 4. Commesso (Saeco) 3pts 5. Voigt (CA) 1pt

15:17 CET - 157 km/89 km to go

The peloton still look fairly relaxed although they are doing some chasing. Armstrong is sitting in the middle of the bunch surrounded by his US Postal teammates. The five breakaways on the other hand are working very well and quite hard during this hot summer's day in July. They are some 15 kilometres away from Germany now.

15:25 CET - 162 km/84 km to go

The leaders are climbing the category 4 Cote de Fullinsdorf now, with its summit at km 161. Jens Voigt (CA) crossed first for 5pts, followed by Vinokourov and Robin.

15:41 CET - 173.5 km/73 km to go

Tim Maloney reports that at the feed zone in Rheinfelden, there are huge crowds as the race passes into Germany. Far bigger than Switzerland, so it seems that Jan Ullrich and his Telekom boys have a lot of hometown support.

The bunch are starting to ride now, and have pegged the gap to less than 20 minutes. Too late though?

15:52 CET - 179.5 km/67 km to go

The leading five are on the third climb of the day, the category 3 Côte de Waidhof, with its summit at km 180. The gap is coming down slowly, and it is under 19 minutes at the latest update.

15:59 CET - 184.5 km/62 km to go

Salvatore Commesso (Saeco) takes the 10pts for the Cote de Waidhof, followed by Voigt (CA) 7pts, Robin (Bonjour) 5pts, Durand (Lotto) 3pts and Vinokourov (Telekom) 1pt.

The peloton have reached Germany now and are at 17'58. Polti and La Francaise des Jeux are riding hard on the front, but they're going to need a lot more firepower to bring these guys back. 18 minutes in 62 km is a lot - 17 seconds a kilometre that the break needs to lose.

16:09 CET - 190.5 km/56 km to go

Commesso (Saeco) again takes the points on the fourth and last climb of the day, the Côte de Lörrach (km 187). He was followed by Voigt and Robin again. Commesso is itching for a stage win and today will be his best opportunity to date. However, there are four other riders who might have a say in that. Robin is quite a good sprinter as well. It's clear by now that these riders will not be caught.

16:18 CET - 198 km/48.5 km to go

Kelme, Polti and Francaise de Jeux are riding the tempo on the front of the peloton, presumably to take care of their GC positions.

The front five have each got a strong interest in winning today: Commesso, because he's incredibly frustrated at not having won so far, Voigt because he's a German, Vinokourov because he's on the German Telekom team, Durand because one of these days, a long break has to work, and Robin because Bonjour really need a stage win for the French. In terms of stage wins, none of these 5 teams have been successful yet in this year's Tour.

16:28 CET - 203.5 km/43 km to go

The second and final sprint at Sitzenkirch (km 200) was passed with Jacky Durand in the lead, followed by Commesso and Voigt. We're nearly into the last 40 kilometres now, and the race should finish at approximately 17:30

16:33 CET - 206.5 km/40 km to go

Durand attacks at the 42 kilometre point, and Voigt tries to get up to him. Commesso is also trying to pull him back and is succesful. The two have a 14 second gap to the other three now.

16:45 CET - 215.5 km/31 km to go

Correction: it was Vinokourov who attacked with Commesso. However, they are both brought back through a determined chase by Voigt et al.

16:51 CET - 221.5 km/25 km to go

They are not quite caught yet, and Commesso and Vinokourov have extended their lead to 20 seconds. It looks like this is it. Behind them, the peloton are at 15'15 and cruising. Virenque has a rear wheel change but regains the pack with no problems.

16:54 CET - 224.5 km/22 km to go

The lead of the duo is now up to 46 seconds, and Comesso is asking his Saeco team director for some advice. "Win".

Incidentally, Jacky Durand has now passed Erik Dekker's "Eurosport breakaway ranking" - 629 km to date.

17:01 CET - 229 km/17 km to go

Inside the last 20 kilometres now, and Salvatore Commesso and Alexandre Vinokourov are being cheered to victory by a sea of people lining the roads. Behind them, Jens Voigt has just attacked the chasing three, but is not allowed to go far.

17:08 CET - 235 km/11.5 km to go

The two strongest riders in the break today are continuing to press their advantage with 14 km to go. Both are hungry for a win: Vino, riding for a German Team and Commesso aiming for his second Tour de France stage win.

17:13 CET - 236.5 km/10 km to go

Alexandre Vinokourov might well move himself into 14th place if he can hold the 15 minute advantage to the peloton. However, his mind is on the stage win now. He and Commesso have 2 minutes on the Voigt trio.

17:19 CET - 241.5 km/5 km to go

Both riders are still taking even turns with 5 km to go. Will an attack come from Vino or will he trust his sprint to beat Commesso?

17:23 CET - 244 km/2.5 km to go

Massive crowds and brilliant sunshine greet Salvatore Commesso and Alexandre Vinokourov in Fribourg. Vino tries to attack but is brought back by Commesso.

17:25 CET - 245.5 km/1 km to go

It looks like a trackl sprint between the two up front with 1 km to go. Behind them, Durand attacks.

17:26 CET - 246.5 km/0 km to go

Commesso is leading out, with Vino on his wheel. A really tight sprint - but Commesso takes it! Durand takes third.

Jens Voigt is 4th, and Robin 5th. We have a while to wait for the peloton though...

Vino and Toto actually stopped on the final corner before Commesso reluctantly led out!

A quarter of an hour later, the peloton comes in led by Memorycard's Nicolay Bo Larsen in a late (but not large) breakaway. Overall, there is not change in the GC.


1 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli       6.08.15 (41.05 km/h)
2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Deutsche Telekom 
3 Jacky Durand (Fra) Lotto-Adecco 			1.05
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) Credit Agricole 			1.16
5 Jean Cyril Robin (Fra) Bonjour 
6 Nicolay Bo Larsen (Den) Memorycard-Jack & Jones      15.35
7 Servais Knaven (Ned) Farm Frites 
8 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 
9 Olivier Perraudeau (Fra) Bonjour 
10 Bo Hamburger (Den) Memorycard-Jack & Jones 	       15.37

General classification after stage 18:

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service           82.01.18
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 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto                      13.07
10 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step               13.08

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