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Le Tour 2001

89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Main page    Stage profile    Start List    Results

Stage 14 - Sunday July 21: Lodève - Mont Ventoux, 221 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 11:15 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

11:17 CEST    start
Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the Tour's third summit finish in four days, the climb of the fearsome Mont Ventoux. The run-in is a long one, though; 198 km of fairly flat provençal terrain to cover before the finish climb gets under way. With no incentive (other than, perhaps, an improved prospect of finishing inside the time limit) for a long breakaway by the lesser riders, it may well be a fairly relaxed stage up until that point - but this is the Tour, and there is usually somebody willing to have a go.

One thing that may liven things up along the way is the green jersey battle between Robbie McEwen and Erik Zabel; although the chances of either picking up any points at the finish are close enough to zero for us not to worry about them, there are two bonus sprints along the way at Sauve, after 71 km and at Châteauneuf-du-Pape after 160 km.

11:53 CEST    15 km/206 km to go
In the opening kilometres, which climb gradually onto the Larzac plateau - not deemed worthy of any points, though - the attacks do indeed start to come. First Mario Aerts has an unsuccessful go, and then a group of a dozen riders, including white jersey challenger Isidro Nozal, Tyler Hamilton and Richard Virenque, forms and gets 20 seconds clear; at the rear a number of riders have been dropped on the climb, including Peter Luttenberger and US Postal's Benoît Joachim. This is, however, the only particularly tough section of the stage before the final climb, so if they can get back reasonably quickly on the plateau they should be able to shelter in the bunch the rest of the way without too much trouble.

11:59 CEST    25 km/196 km to go
Over the top of the climb the break is caught under pressure from US Postal and Lampre, with the exception of Stéphane Augé and Alexandr Bocharov. However, other riders - including Virenque (who told us this morning "Today I will give it my all") once again - get across to them and eleven riders start the descent from the plateau with a 20 second lead. They are:
Mikel Pradera (Spa) ONCE - Eroski
Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
Anthony Morin (Fra) Credit Agricole
Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo - Farm Frites
Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) Ibanesto.Com
Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre - Daikin
Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) AG2R Prévoyance
Stephane Augé (Fra) Jean Delatour
Christophe Edalaine (Fra) Jean Delatour
Christian Moreni (Ita) Alessio

12:10 CEST    30 km/191 km to go
Without the potentially threatening Nozal and Hamilton, the US Postal-led bunch are allowing this group more leeway; they now have 45 seconds, with Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com) and Jérôme Pineau (Bonjour) trying to bridge the gap.

12:23 CEST    40 km/181 km to go
The break has now stretched out their lead to 4.30, with the two chasers together 1.30 behind them.

12:41 CEST    50 km/171 km to go
The break are still 4.30 ahead of a US Postal-led bunch, but Pineau and Casar in the gap are falling back, now three minutes down. The break are not being allowed to get as far clear as yesterday's group; the best placed rider there is Richard Virenque, 15.44 down on Lance Armstrong; Armstrong seemingly wants to win this stage and Virenque has been known to climb quite well ...

It looks as though the break will mop up the points from the day's first bonus sprint in 20 km to go, postponing the next episode in the green jersey saga. This morning we found Robbie McEwen's teammate and neighbour Serge Baguet slumped over his bike and asked him what the Lotto team would be doing. Any chance of getting into a break? We don't know - we'll try and we'll see. Everyone is a little tired. Are you looking forward to the rest day? Yes, if everything's OK it's coming up right on time. I'm ****ed. Did you want to chase the break yesterday? No, it was easier to wait until the sprint to take the green jersey. It's close now.

12:52 CEST    65 km/156 km to go
US Postal have eased up the chasing a bit, and the break is going away comfortably to 9.25 the two chasers have made no headway and look doomed to be caught by the bunch fairly soon; in fact they have now sat up to wait for them.

The weather today is much as yesterday; the riders are racing under clear blue skies after a bit of early cloud has cleared with temperatures in the low 30s Celsius and not much wind to speak of, at least before they reach the top of Petrarch's windy mountain.

13:04 CEST    71 km/150 km to go
At the bonus sprint at Sauve, taken by Morin ahead of Edaleine and Hushovd, the break has a lead of 11.25. Casar and Pineau are back in the bunch now.

13:31 CEST    93 km/128 km to go
The peloton has now picked up its pace somewhat and is holding the gap steady at 11.45. Although for most of the riders in front any advantage they may hold at the foot of the mountain will be swept away in the first couple of kilometres, Bocharov and Virenque both have the pedigree to put up a fight.

We spoke to Domo's Fred Rodriguez this morning about how he saw the stage panning out. A lot of the others are dreading this day. Today? Today, unless you're a climber, is probably one of the easiest days. Lance is pretty confident and his team is pretty strong. I think he's going to want to win another mountain stage. I know in the past he's wanted to win more, but he's played it safe. I think his confidence is a little higher now and he wants to prove some more. As long as there's no real climbers in a breakaway he can let them get at least 15 to 20 minutes. It will be difficult for those guys. The record for Ventoux is 1:07. Somebody going in a breakaway is going to spend a lot of energy to get 15-20 minutes. They're going to hit that climb already fatigued. It's going to be hard. If Jalabert gets in a break, he's one of those guys who could do it. The team will know who's up there.

13:52 CEST    108 km/113 km to go
Little new to report; the break and the bunch, the latter as ever led by the tireless workhorses of the US Postal squad, are maintaining a steady gap of between 11.30 and 11.45 and have passed through the day's feeding station at Moussac.

For reference, two years ago Richard Virenque finished less than two minutes down on Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani at the summit of the Ventoux, although Armstrong was not by all accounts going as hard as he could have done then. Virenque will undoubtedly be spurred on by losing his mantle as the most popular rider in France to Laurent Jalabert (who has earned it the hard way) and can be at his strongest when at bay, but being in the break all this time will have used up quite a lot of energy.

14:06 CEST    116 km/105 km to go
The temperature is rising as the day wears on, and the riders are now having to cope with 36 degree heat. To recap, the 11 riders ahead are:
Mikel Pradera (Spa) ONCE - Eroski
Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
Anthony Morin (Fra) Credit Agricole
Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo - Farm Frites
Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) Ibanesto.Com
Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre - Daikin
Alexandr Bocharov (Rus) AG2R Prévoyance
Stephane Augé (Fra) Jean Delatour
Christophe Edalaine (Fra) Jean Delatour
Christian Moreni (Ita) Alessio
whose lead of 11.30 remains largely unchanged as they pass through the attractive little provençal town of Uzès. Looking at that break, Virenque and Bocharov are clearly hoping to be contenders on the final climb, while Pradera and Serpellini will be hoping to be able to help Joseba Beloki and Raimondas Rumsas; Velo may be hoping to do the same for white jersey Ivan Basso, while the role of the others must really be limited to getting some TV time for their sponsors and staying out of trouble (the two riders from the trouble-plagued Crédit Agricole team may be glad to know that they have already had their obligatory crash for the day when Sébastien Hinault fell off in the opening kilometres).

14:26 CEST    131 km/90 km to go
As the leaders reach the village of Pauzilhac the situation remains more or less unchanged. US Postal are receiving help from Rabobank; either Levi Leipheimer is feeling very good today or they are trying to put a few favours in the bank; the gap is still 11.40. The stage is so far pretty much running on its fastest schedule for an average of 38 kph, which - given that the last 20 km are likely to take an hour, that they have been doing a steady 43 kph so far.

The next few kilometres are on fairly narrow winding lanes coming down to the Rhone valley with speeds likely to be quite high; it stands out as the sort of section where a lapse of attention by an overheating rider in the bunch could cause mayhem.

According to Johan Bruyneel the intention of the US Postal team is not necessarily to worry about taking the stage today, but to keep the pace fast enough to prevent Armstrong's immediate opponents from attacking before the climb.

14:40 CEST    139 km/82 km to go
At St.-Victor-la-Coste the gap has fallen to 11.15; a few CSC jerseys have now moved up to join in the chase ; presumably to protect Jalabert's top ten place, although after the last three days' efforts he is unlikely to be doing much more than hanging on up the Ventoux.

The break are not going to be caught before the second bonus sprint so all McEwen will need to do to hang on to the green jersey until Tuesday is finish inside the time limit. Both Lotto and Telekom teams have declined to get involved in the chasing, probably thankfully. This morning Telekom's Bobby Julich told us "Today could go either way. I think US Postal wants to win the stage with either Lance or Heras, so I think they're going to let a break go but then reel it back because it's too prestigious a climb to let a bunch of guys go. I just see US Postal doing what they've done the last few days- riding with their flat guys as hard as they can to bring the group back, then just one after another going up the climb with Heras and Rubiera. I think it's going to be pretty hard to win today.

14:56 CEST    150 km/71 km to go
With three teams working the gap is closing slowly, falling to 10.30. Marco Serpellini looks to be having a bit of trouble hanging on to the break. The main peloton have negotiated the tricky section without incident, the relatively high pace keeping them lined out.

15:07 CEST    160 km/61 km to go
In the wine town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape Crédit Agricole's Thor Hushovd takes the 760 euros for first place and raises a symbolic glass to the crowds. Stèphane Augé and Christian Moreni take the rest of the pickings. Their lead is down to 10.18 now, 40 km from the foot of the bald mountain.

15:16 CEST    167 km/54 km to go
Under pressure from Thor Hushovd the break splits up, and only Richard Virenque and Alexandr Bocharov are able (or willing) to go with the Norwegian at first. However, they don't get it together to go on alone and the others come back up to them.

15:25 CEST    173 km/48 km to go
Christophe Morin is obliged to take a halt to nip behind some bushes (in short supply on this wide open stretch across the Rhone valley and after a quick on-bike strip-tease (bib-shorts can be awkward sometimes) finds his spot and gets off; it will be hard for him to get back with the break now. The bunch, still towed along by CSC, US Postal and Rabobank.

By some miracle Morin reappears from behind and rejoins the leaders. The gap has fallen to 9.46 but it still appears that Virenque and Bocharov will be starting the big climb with at least 7 minutes or so lead.

15:35 CEST    180 km/41 km to go
The leaders are now holding the gap again, with the bunch led by Rabobank's Grischa Niermann pulling back only a few seconds over the last few kilometres. There are now 20 km to the foot of the mountain which is looming directly ahead of the riders.

15:49 CEST    188 km/33 km to go
The lead falls below 9 minutes; there are some strained faces in the break and Serpellini has not moved from last position in the break for quite a while now. The grey mass of the Ventoux is dominating the horizon now. The skies have, thankfully, become slightly overcast now; not enough to threaten anything but the riders will have a degree or two less of heat to cope with on the climb.

15:56 CEST    196 km/25 km to go
US Postal really have taken up the bulk of the chasing again, bringing back pulling back the gap to 8.30. Virenque's team-mates Axel Merckx and Dave Bruylandts are well up with Armstrong.

The pace eases temporarily as Armstrong takes a leak on the move, pushed by a couple of teammates; unfortunately he times it badly and finds a stretch with quite a few spectators and will quite likely pick up a few Swiss francs fine. No sign of any animation on the part of the ONCE squad yet.

Anthony Morin is obviously suffering from a digestive problem as he takes another opportunity to dive into a vineyard. The final physiological preparations for the day's big effort ...

16:03 CEST    200 km/21 km to go
The village of Bedoin marks the foot of the climb, and the leaders have a smidgen over 8 minutes as they set out on the final challenge. Virenque and Moreni take the lead. Morin has not got back with them this time.

16:08 CEST    203 km/18 km to go
From this side the climb starts relatively gently, and the group are still riding together and sharing the work. 7.49 behind them, Brad McGee is one of the first to be shelled out of the bunch.

16:10 CEST    
Moreni is the first to try and lift the pace; Bocharov brings some of the others up, but Hushovd, Velo, Augé and Edaleine are dropped. To recap, that leaves us with a leading group, 7.13 up on the bunch, of:
Mikel Pradera (Spa) ONCE - Eroski
Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo - Farm Frites
Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) Ibanesto.Com
Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre - Daikin
Alexandr Bocharov (Rus) AG2R Prévoyance
Christian Moreni (Ita) Alessio

16:14 CEST    205 km/16 km to go
As the bunch pass under the 20 km banner - 7.04 down now - Armstrong is sitting in third place behind Hincapie and Landis. Mcewen is dropped; he is unlikely to be alone in taking the climb at his own pace, though.

Up ahead the gradient starts to bite and Moreni is dropped under pressure applied by Baranowski.

Zabel and Jalabert are dropped from the bunch which is diminishing rapidly in size.

16:20 CEST    207.5 km/13.5 km to go
Former spotty jersey Patrice Halgand and Dario Frigo are both among the many dropped by Armstrong and his boys in blue; Frigo was dropped quickly on the Plateau de Beille, too, but kept up a good tempo on his own to minimise his losses so this may be a sensible tactic for him.

16:24 CEST    208 km/13 km to go
Still among the trees on the lower slopes, Baranowski is setting the pace for the leaders with Bocharov looking fairly comfortable in the saddle and Virenque en dansant.

Bocharov attacks as we come to some of the steepest sections and Pradera counters with Virenque and the energy-saving Serpellini come with him, but Baranowski is dropped.

Behind Millar and Moreau are among those dropped from the Armstrong group, which is still 40 or 50 strong.

16:31 CEST    209 km/12 km to go
The two "proper" climbers Bocharov and Virenque finally rid themselves of their company and go on alone.

ONCE send José Azevedo on the attack out of what is now a group of 8 riders with Armstrong, just a few yards ahead; US Postal don't chase hard but have Rubiera setting the pace ahead of Armstrong, with Heras close behind. They are 5.20 behind the two leaders.

16:34 CEST    210.5 km/10.5 km to go
There is a scattering of riders strung out the mountain in the wake of the very select group around Armstrong, which includes Beloki, Heras and Botero.

Five minutes ahead, Virenque gives it his all as he said this morning, and drops Bocharov.

16:37 CEST    
Armstrong has now lost all his team support, as he reacts to a second attack by Azevedo; with him he now has just Beloki, Rumsas and Basso. Virenque has 4.51 and has still not left the wooded part of the climb.

ONCE's tactics so far seem to be repeated acceleration by Azevedo; I'd guess softening up for a more serious attempt by Beloki to come. Armstrong doesn't look in any trouble yet, though.

16:42 CEST    213 km/8 km to go
Bocharov is still 25 seconds behind Virenque, not out of it yet; Armstrong is only 4.44 behind Virenque now, so the stage is still wide open. The Armstrong group are mopping up the former attackers - Augé manages to hang on for further than is strictly sensible (he'll pay for it later) but the two ONCE riders still have Pradera ahead of them.

16:46 CEST    214 km/7 km to go
As the trees thin out Augé is shelled out of the back of the Armstrong group; behind him Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) comes up and look as though he may join the group, who have already been caught back by Mancebo. Armstrong looks less than brilliant, but when Beloki attacks he counters and jumps clear alone, sweeping past Pradera a few seconds later.

Virenque reaches Chalet-Reynard with just under 4 minutes lead from the charging Armstrong. It may still be enough.

16:52 CEST    216 km/5 km to go
Beloki, Pradera, Basso and Rumsas are together chasing Armstrong, but he will have to blow up for them to catch him.

Virenque passes under the 5 km banner; he must be able to hang on from here. By comparison with Armstrong, twiddling his tiny gear but rolling his shoulders more than he has done, Virenque seems to be churning an enormous gear, but he is holding enough of a gap for the moment.

Bocharov is 1.25 behind Virenque and looks to be out of it.

16:56 CEST    216.5 km/4.5 km to go
The Beloki group is joined by Mancebo; they are just under a minute down on Armstrong; Armstrong is still gaining on Virenque, but only in seconds per kilometre rather than the minutes he needs.

17:00 CEST    219 km/2 km to go
Virenque is now full out in the saddle up the moonscape on the southern flank of the ridge. Armstrong catches his former teammate Darius Baranowski who manages to stay with him for a few yards. Armstrong's less than brilliant is still pretty good (and, indeed, good enough as far as any danger on general classification goes), but he isn't making it look quite as easy as he has done in the past. This hurts a lot.

17:03 CEST    220 km/1 km to go
Rumsas, Basso and Mancebo ride Beloki off their wheel; Pradera, dropped shortly before, comes back up to his team leader to offer what support he can. Virenque takes the flamme rouge with three minutes clear; the stage is in the bag now.

Rumsas and Basso ride Mancebo off their wheels for the third time in an hour. They are around 1.20 behind Armstrong with Beloki not too far behind.

17:06 CEST    Finish
Virenque comes triumphantly into the closing metres; mission accomplished. He points one finger at the sky; he is grinning all over his face; he he doesn't need to be handed the Ventoux on a plate.

Bocharov comes in to take second place, 1.57 down, a good performance; Armstrong is third at 2.20.

Serpellini demonstrates the advantages of all-day energy conservation by coming in fourth; a very good climb by someone who doesn't really like the mountains; his teammate Rumsas pips Ivan Basso for fifth, with Mancebo seventh.

Beloki comes in in eighth, 1.45 behind Armstrong; his GC deficit will be more than four minutes now.

Big losers for the day include Igor González de Galdeano who will drop out of the top five (voice of co-commentator: no he won't. Oh, OK. He still lost quite a bit, though). Levi Leipheimer's eleventh place will push him up GC a bit, back into the top 10. Botero takes a real hammering and only comes over the line during the podium ceremony, 15.02 down. Virenque looks happy rather than triumphalist as he stands against a backdrop of the open sky; Armstrong seems perhaps a little down as he collects his umpteenth Credit Lyonnais lion and incidentally a yellow jersey; he is probably looking forward to the rest day as much as the riders who are still struggling up the grey mountain.

Result (221 km)

1 Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo-Farm Frites               5.43.26 (38.6 km/h)
2 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Ag2R Prevoyance                1.58
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service                  2.20
4 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre Daikin                     2.54
5 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                     3.36
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                           3.39
7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com                     3.51
8 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                          4.05
9 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) iBanesto.com                    4.10
10 Ivan Gotti (Ita) Alessio                                4.16
11 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                          4.25
12 José Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski                          4.45

General classification after stage 14 (provisional)

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service              56.51.39
2 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                          4.21
3 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                     6.39
4 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski              7.04
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com                    10.49
6 José Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski                          10.57
7 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal Service                   11.35
8 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                  12.45
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                          12.54
10 Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo-Farm Frites                13.12

Thanks for following this stage with Cyclingnews; after tomorrow's rest day we'll be back on Tuesday morning at 10.20 CEST for the longest stage of this Tour, with yet another summit finish: 226.5 kilometres from Vaisons-la-Romaine to Les Deux-Alpes with seven listed climbs.


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