87th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 1 - 23, 2000

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Complete live report

Stage 20 - July 22: Belfort - Troyes, 254.5 km

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

Welcome to the penultimate stage of the 87th Tour de France. Despite being within sight of Paris, the riders have to face their longest stage today, 254.5 kilometres from Belfort to Troyes. The dramatic Belfort castle has been one of the key strategic points in French history, but the battle in this year's Tour de France has already been largely played out.

Aside from the length of the stage, today's difficulties include two sprints at Fontaine-les-Luxeuil (km 52), and Bar-sur-Aube (km 199). The climbs are all of category 4: Côte de Chagnon (km 109.5), Côte de Chaumont (km 157.5) and the Côte d'Alun (km 170). They will have no real effect on the climber's jersey though, with Kelme's Santiago Botero well and truly encased in the Maillot Pois.

11:21 - 7 km

The 129 riders left in the race are once more on their way, as a steady tempo is set from the start. The official start time was 11:08.

It is a perfect day, with temperatures around 24 degrees celsius and the sun shining. The wind is from the north-east, meaning that it will be in the riders' faces for much of the day.

11:41 - 16 km

The pack as a whole are quite content to roll along at 30 km/h, enjoying the sunshine and the prospect of getting to Paris tomorrow. Not one of the 129 riders left has any doubts as to their main goal today. No-one has spoiled the party yet.

12:01 - 29 km

The first hour approaches and still the bunch are happy to stay together. It might remain this way for another hour (or more) before people look to attack. There'll be no 240 km plus breakaways today.

12:16 - 39 km

A steady pace of 34.4 km/h is held for the first hour, as the first sprint at Fontaine-les-Luxeuil is now 13 kilometres away. However, no-one will be able to stop Erik Zabel from taking home his 5th green jersey, as he leads that competition by 119 points (he has 256). Robbie McEwen (Farm Frites) is next with 137.

12:35 - 48 km

48 kilometres have now passed in the stage, with no attacks yet. By today, the various classifications are all pretty well sorted out. In the general classification, Lance Armstrong is under no threat from Jan Ullrich at 6'02, and Joseba Beloki secured his 3rd place yesterday with a gutsy ride in the time trial. You could see that he was suffering a lot, but he did not lose enough time to teammate, Christophe Moreau to unseat him.

12:47 - 57 km

The results from the first intermediate sprint at Fontaine-les-Luxeuil (km 52.5): 1. Robbie McEwen (Farm Frites) 6pts 2. Jacky Durand (Lotto) 4pts 3. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) 2pts. Immediately following this there is an attack from Francois Simon (Bonjour), but he is quickly chased down by Frankie Andreu.

13:02 - 68 km

After 63 kilometres, there is a fall involving Rabobank rider, Michael Boogerd along with Jimenez, Voskamp, and Borgheresi. Boogerd is the only one chasing at the moment, and the bunch is a lot more frisky.

13:11 - 72 km

There is bad news for Boogerd, as the fall has caused him to abandon the race. The pace has picked up a little now, and the second hour average was 38.5 km/h.

13:23 - 81 km

This is a tragedy for Michael Boogerd. He was sick on Friday (and arrived 125th of the 129 riders) but he had one wish: to arrive in Paris. But after his fall it's over now. The best Dutch rider is now Maarten den Bakker (now 49th).

13:37 - 89 km

After 86 kilometres, there is an attack by 16 riders: Vasseur, Garcia-Acosta, Tauler, Vidal, Van Heeswijk, Wauters, Brignoli, Chanteur, Maignan, Padrnos, Magnien, Crepaldi, Piziks, Backstedt, Vainsteins and Nazon

They have a 22 second lead on the bunch at 89 kilometres.

13:45 - 100 km

Although it looked threatening, this 16 rider group is not allowed to go clear. They are caught after 97 km, with Magnien holding on for a little while longer before he is recaptured.

13:54 - 105 km

The peloton are now approaching the first of three climbs for the day, the category 4 Côte de Chagnon (km 109.5). All together at this point.

14:13 - 115 km

Richard Virenque snatches the points on the Côte de Chagnon, followed by Nico Mattan (Cofidis) and Anthony Morin (CA). However, there is no chance that Virenque (262 pts) will catch Santi Botero (347 pts) or Javier Otxoa (283 pts).

14:31 - 125 km/129 km to go

The peloton have passed through the feed zone at Dammartin-sur-Meuse as one. The race looks to be set up for a final 50 kilometre dash, and therefore a sprint for Zabel who has his race face on today. The tempo is moderate, at around 40 km/h now (av: 38 km/h so far), but it is by no means hard.

14:53 - 136 km/118 km to go

They're over halfway now, but the racing has now yet started. The next climb is the Côte de Chaumont at 157 kilometres.

US Postal is the only team in this year's Tour to have all nine riders intact. Despite this, they are only running 8th in the teams classification, which is being led by Kelme. Postal's Frankie Andreu is in his 9th consecutive Tour, and will become the American to finish the most Tours de France if he makes it tomorrow. The next on the list is Andy Hampsten, who finished 8. Lance Armstrong has ridden 6, but only finished 3 if we include this one.

15:00 - 141 km/113 km to go

Bonjour's Francois Simon goes on the attack, and quickly rides to a 39 second lead. He may be trying for a 'home' win today, as he lives 20 kilometres from the finish in Troyes, in the village of Mesnil-Saint-Loup.

US Postal is the only team in this year's Tour to have all nine riders intact. Despite this, they are only running 8th in the teams classification, which is being led by Kelme. Postal's Frankie Andreu is in his 9th consecutive Tour, and will become the American to finish the most Tours de France if he makes it tomorrow. The next on the list is Andy Hampsten, who finished 8. Lance Armstrong has ridden 6, but only finished 3 if we include this one.

15:19 - 154 km/100 km to go

Sebastein Hinault (CA), Grégorz Gwiadowski (FdJ) and Romans Vainsteins (VC) join Simon after 150 kilometres, but Vainsteins drops off fairly quickly. The leading trio now have 1'20 on the peloton.

15:26 - 159 km/95 km to go

Francois Simon (Bonjour) takes the points on the second climb, the Côte de Chaumont, followed by Gwiazdowski (FDJ) and Hinault (CA). The lead is now up to 1'45.

15:34 - 164.5 km/90 km to go

These three leaders are gradually extending their gap, and it is now over 2 minutes with 90 kilometres to race. They'll need a lot more than this once Telekom puts the hammer down, but it is possible. The Telekom boys would love to set it up for a sprint win by Zabel. But Maybe Robbie McEwen or Romans Vainsteins or even the quiet Jeroen Blijlevens might be able to upset the show.

15:52 - 180 km/75 km to go

They're getting stuck into it now, as the leaders pass the final climb of the race, the cat. 4 Cote d'Alun. It is also the last climb in this year's Tour de France, and Sebastien Hinault has the honour of crossing first. He is followed by Gwiazdowski and Simon. The leaders have close to three minutes with 75 kilometres to go, to a peloton led by the US Postal team.

16:01 - 186.5 km/68 km to go

The bite has not yet come from the Postal boys, and it is not likely to either, as the best placed rider in the break is Francois Simon - 2'10'12 behind Lance Armstrong. It's up to the other teams to chase like Telekom, Farm Frites and Vini Caldirola, but there is still time.

16:11 - 196.5 km/58 km to go

The three lead by over four minutes now, which is still only 4 seconds per kilometre that the peloton need to bring back. However, they'll need to make their minds up within 10 kilometres.

16:20 - 202 km/52.5 km to go

The last sprint of the day at Bar-sur-Aube (km 199) goes to Gwiazdowski (FDJ), followed by Francois Simon (Bonjour) and Sebastien Hinault (CA) 2pts. Only 52.5 km to go, and the Postal led peloton is starting to race. The gap seems to have stabilised and it is only a matter of time before it starts to come down a little. The overall average speed so far is nearly 39 km/h, but the last hour was at 45.5 km/h.

16:26 - 206.5 km/48 km to go

As a certain MTV announcer is heard to utter occasionally, "Let's get it on..." We have 48 kilometres to race, and the gap is falling. 3'30 at the last time check to Gwiazdowksi et al and falling.

16:36 - 212.5 km/42 km to go

Telekom and Farm Frites are setting things up for a duel between McEwen and Zabel. They should easily pull the escape in with 10 kilometres to go.

16:43 - 221.5 km/33 km to go

Telekom, Polti and Farm Frites are riding on the front: Geert Van Bondt and Alberto Elli are swapping off. It's a very tricky run in to the finish - a lot of half roundabouts and curves. The straight is long and uphill with a sidewind, and has 'Erik Zabel' written all over it.

16:50 - 226.5 km/28 km to go

28 kilometres - 2 minutes 12 seconds. The writing's on the wall for the break. The last 10 kilometres should see the peloton together, with Telekom trying to keep Zabel in the upright position as they negotiate numerous roundabouts.

16:54 - 230 km/24.5 km to go

It's Polti and Farm Frites doing most of the work on the front now, as the three leaders continue to lose ground. While they're still out there, they have hope, but the chase behind is committed. Blijlevens where are you?

17:01 - 234.5 km/20 km to go

The Pole and the two Frenchmen are trying valiantly, but are only 1'17 ahead of the storming peloton as they go under the 20 kilometre to go banner. The stage is set - at last - for a regulation sprint finish. They have been thin on the ground this year, but Robbie McEwen has obviously told his Farm Frites team that he's feeling good, as they're still on the front riding hard.

17:06 - 239.5 km/15 km to go

The same riders (Polti, Telekom, Farm Frites) are riding tempo approaching 15 kilometres to go. Fred Rodriguez is up there for Mapei with Zanini.

17:14 - 245.5 km/9.0 km to go

The leaders pass under the 10 kilometre to go banner with the peloton in full flight, led by Saeco's Commesso who is helping the chase. The last time check was 18 seconds and dropping fast.

17:18 - 249 km/5.5 km to go

Francois Simon has attacked! In his home town! Hear the crowd roar. The other two have sat up.

McEwen, Zabel, Vainsteins, Magnien are the big picks. Tim's money is on Rodriguez.

Quite a few riders have been dropped including Atienza (Saeco) and Jalabert. Commesso actually went back to help Atienza

17:20 - 251.5 km/3.0 km to go

Simon is going all out on his bike with 3 kilometres to go. He has 6 seconds on the peloton which are being slowed by roundabouts.

17:20 - 252.5 km/2.0 km to go

Telekom have strung out the bunch completely and will catch Simon with 2 km to go. An admirable ride.

Two Telekoms, a polti and a Farm Frites rider lead.

17:22 - 254.5 km/0.0 km to go

Heppner is doing an awesome job on the front for Telekom and Zabel. McEwen is near the green jersey now.

A Polti rider jumps with 500 m to go.

Zanini is trying to lead out Rodriguez, but then Fagnini leads out Zabel. McEwen on the right but he can't get Zabel. Finally, the German gets one from McEwen and Blijlevens. Vainsteins 4th, Van Heeswijk 5th, Mori 6th and then Piziks.


1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom       6.14.13
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Farm Frites 
3 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) Team Polti 
4 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 
5 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Mapei-Quick Step 
6 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli 
7 Arvis Piziks (Lat) Memorycard-Jack & Jones 
8 Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) La Francaise Des Jeux 
9 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 
10 Christophe Mengin (Fra) La Francaise Des Jeux 
General classification after stage 20:

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service    89.20.32
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 	 6.02
3 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Festina 			10.04
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina 		10.34
5 Roberto Heras (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 	11.50
6 Richard Virenque (Fra) Team Polti 		13.26
7 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca 	14.18
8 Fernando Escartin (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 	17.21
9 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Banesto 		18.09
10 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 	18.25

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