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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 18 - Friday July 26: Cluses - Bourg-en-Bresse, 176.5 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 12:27 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

12:00 CEST 
Welcome to our live coverage of the 18th stage of the Tour de France. Today's stage from Cluses to Bourg-en-Bresse is constantly up and down, with a number of categorised climbs planned, although nothing like the giants of the Alps.

The climbs are as follows: Côte Des Bois De Serves (Cat. 3, km 41), Côte De Marlioz (Cat. 4, km 57.5), Côte De La Sémine (km 74), Col De Richemont (Cat. 1, km 96), Col De La Cheminée (Cat. 3, km 115), Côte De Giriat (Cat. 4, km 137) and Col Du Berthiand (Cat. 2, km 147.5). Not exactly a sprinters day out!

There are also two intermediate sprints on offer: At Cruseilles (km 43) and at Le Petit Abergement (km 111.5).

The weather today is beautiful once again, with temperatures expected to reach the mid 20's, and a light NW wind blowing in the latter half of the stage.

12:35 CEST - 5 km
153 riders took the start in Cluses today, and will look forward to yet another hard stage. For many it is the last chance to show themselves before the end of the Tour, so there will be attacks from the word go. Already there has been a crash in the peloton, with no details as to the riders fallen.

12:45 CEST - 12 km
Both Jerome Pineau (Bonjour) and Mikel Pradera (ONCE) were reported to be involved in the crash, but both are OK and back in the peloton.

The attacks have started already, with Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), Jakob Piil and Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Leon Van Bon (Domo), Thierry Loder (Ag2r), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com), Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) gaining 20 seconds on the peloton.

12:53 CEST - 19 km/157 km to go
This looks like it - the peloton has sat up and let the break get out to 1'50 after 19 km. None of the riders in the break present even a remote threat to Lance Armstrong in yellow, or Laurent Jalabert in the polka dots, or Robbie McEwen in green. So it's likely that they'll stay away for some time.

13:02 CEST - 22 km/154 km to go
The gap has grown to 3 minutes after 22 km of racing, and the leading 10 riders are co-operating well. The names in the break again: Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), Jakob Piil and Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Leon Van Bon (Domo), Thierry Loder (Ag2r), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com), Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo)

Hushovd is clearly having a good end of Tour, as he was doing a lot of work in the middle group yesterday - towing the likes of Carlos Sastre and David Moncoutie up some of the climbs. Perhaps today could be his day?

13:13 CEST - 28 km/148 km to go
Apparently some teams in the peloton aren't happy with this break, and have got to the front to try and close it down. Principal among these are Lotto-Adecco, who are trying to get McEwen a few more points in the intermediate sprints - the first one of these is at km 43. Obviously, McEwen feels confident that he can beat Zabel in this one.

US Postal is also at the front, and the gap is now down to 2'20. However, with only 15 km to go until the sprint, they may run out of kilometres to close it down.

Cyclingnews contributor Tomas Nilsson notes that all remaining Scandinavians in the Tour are in today's break.

13:24 CEST - 37 km/139 km to go
With just 4 km before the first climb and 6 km before the first sprint, it's impossible for the leading 10 will be caught. Their gap is still 2'40 to the peloton. The best placed rider in the break is Nicki Sorensen. He is 26th on GC at 37'41 to Armstrong.

13:37 CEST - 48 km/128 km to go
Leon Van Bon takes the 10 points on the Côte Des Bois De Serves, followed by Fassa Bortolo's Nicola Loda, Nicki Sorensen (CSC), Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Thierry Loder (Ag2r). Yes, both Loder and Loda are in the break.

The sprint at Cruseilles shortly after was taken by Loda, from Dekker and Van Bon.

The peloton is cruising behind at 2'15, so have not given up yet.

Correction: Nicki Sorensen is the best placed rider in the break. (26th at 37'41)

13:46 CEST - 58 km/118 km to go
The next climb on offer is the Cat. 4 Côte De Marlioz, a 3 km climb at 5.3%.

It seems as though the Bonjour team is driving the pace in the peloton to try and pull back the break. It's down to 2'10, and dropping gradually. The first hour was covered at a steady 40.6 km/h.

Dekker takes the 5 points for the Côte De Marlioz, followed by Van Bon and Sorensen.

13:54 CEST - 64 km/112 km to go
The chase has kept the gap to the 10 leaders at 2'10, which is quite manageable provided there is sufficient motivation to keep the leaders in check. McEwen's Lotto-Adecco team will no doubt be doing some more work later, if they fancy his chances in a bunch sprint.

Lotto's director Jef Braeckevelt complained about Telekom's tactic yesterday, when they sent Rolf Aldag up the road to take the first sprint at 10 km. "It's not neat what they did," he was quoted in today's Het Nieuwsblad. "Everybody here walks around nervously. But we wait and see. McEwen has got the Green Jersey on his shoulders, so it's up to them to do something about it. The decision will be made on the Champs-Elysées anyway."

Serge Baguet wasn't happy either: "Hans De Clercq and Hondo from Telekom arranged at the start that there would be no sprinting for the points between Zabel and McEwen. Then Aldag goes and gets the points for Telekom. That's why I went in the chase."

Robbie McEwen is calmer than the rest of his team "I have the Green Jersey and feel that I'm the strongest sprinter. Zabel doesn't worry me."

14:02 CEST - 70 km/106 km to go
The leaders are now at the foot of the day's third climb, the Cat. 4 Côte de la Sémine (km 74). It appears that the peloton has sat up, as the gap has blown out to 5'00.

To recap, the riders in the break are: Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), Jakob Piil and Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Leon Van Bon (Domo), Thierry Loder (Ag2r), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com), Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo).

By the way, after amassing 262 points in the mountains competition, Laurent Jalabert has won the polka dot jersey for the second year in a row. There aren't enough climbs left for any of the others to catch up. Mario Aerts is on 178 points, and Santiago Botero is on 162. Jalabert will also win the Most Combative classification for the second year in a row, as he has 98 points compared with Franck Renier's 50. Allez JaJa!

14:11 CEST - 74 km/102 km to go
The mountain points on the Côte de la Sémine are taken by Jakob Piil (CSC), from Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom) and Thor Hushovd (CA). The gap continues to grow, and is now at 7'00. The race is currently on at 40 km/h schedule, meaning that it could finish around 16:50 CEST.

The next climb of the day is the Cat. 1 Col De Richemont, a 12.8 kilometre mountain averaging 5.3%. It's the hardest one that the riders will face today.

14:21 CEST - 81 km/95 km to go
The peloton is now led by US Postal, who have set a steady tempo at the front while the leaders are 7'30 ahead of them. No-one is interested in chasing hard just yet, but there will have to be a decision made relatively soon.

14:28 CEST - 84 km/92 km to go
The powerful legs of George Hincapie are once again at the front of the peloton, setting a comfortable tempo for his team leader Armstrong.

8'00 up the road, the 10 breakaways are climbing the Col de Richemont, and are still riding as a compact group. Erik Dekker is looking good, but he might be lacking sufficient form to win today, given the composition of the break. The two CSC riders will certainly try something, and Leon Van Bon, Nicola Loda, Gian Matteo Fagnini and Thor Hushovd are all excellent sprinters. Then there are Christophe Mengin, Thierry Loder and Jorg Jaksche. It's almost certain that a small group will arrive at the finish to contest the stage.

The average speed so far is 42 km/h

14:35 CEST - 87 km/89 km to go
The peloton rider through the feed zone at Genissiat, just before the halfway point. Dario Frigo, yesterday's stage winner, gets to the front and searches for his soigneur. He finds him and gets his feedbag which he puts between his teeth.

A lot of spectators usually hang out at the feed zones to grab the cast off musettes (feed bags). There is generally a lot of competition to get one of these souvenirs.

14:43 CEST - 90 km/86 km to go
The leaders are halfway up the Col de Richemont, with a cushion of 8'26 to the peloton. David Etxebarria (Euskaltel) has a problem with his bike and drops back to the team car to get it seen to. He stops briefly, but there doesn't appear to be anything seriously wrong with it, and he gets back on and chases the peloton.

In other news, Stefano Garzelli was banned for nine months and fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($35,000) by the Swiss Olympic Association for testing positive to probenecid during the Giro d'Italia. The SOA specified that the maximum sentence was a 2 year ban and a 100,000 franc fine, but Garzelli can return to competition next April provided he pays half the amount, and he will be on a five year probationary period. He holds a Swiss licence, hence the sanction by the Swiss Olympic Association.

14:57 CEST - 95 km/81 km to go
Thierry Loder does a turn at the front of the break, as Erik Dekker waves to a few fans from the back. They are approaching the top of the Col de Richemont, the hardest climb of the day.

14:59 CEST - 96 km/80 km to go
Nick Sorensen takes the points at the top of the climb, followed by Nicola Loda and Christophe Mengin.

In the peloton, Piil's teammate Tyler Hamilton drops back to the CSC car to pick up five water bottles, for distribution to his other teammates. Hamilton, after placing second in the Giro, is on target for an 18th place in the Tour.

Floyd Landis leads the peloton over the top of the climb at 8'02.

15:12 CEST - 106 km/70 km to go
The leaders have 70 km to go, and are approaching the next sprint at Le Petit Abergement. Meanwhile, the peloton is on the descent of the Richemont.

The names in the break again: Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), Jakob Piil and Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Leon Van Bon (Domo), Thierry Loder (Ag2r), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com), Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo).

The full results of the Col de Richemont: 1. Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), 2. Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo), 3. Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com), 4. Jakob Piil (CSC-Tiscali), 5. Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), 6. Leon van Bon (Domo), 7. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), 8. Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), 9. Thierry Loder (Ag2r), 10. Erik Dekker (Rabobank), 11. Floyd Landis (USPS, 12. George Hincapie (USPS).

15:22 CEST - 111 km/65 km to go
The leaders are now on the fifth climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Col de la Cheminée. It's only a 3.5 km climb at 3.3%, but is rated harder than the Cat. 4 Côte de la Sémine (earlier in the stage), which is 4.1 km at 5.3 %. The rating of climbs is more than a little bit subjective, and depends on their length, altitude gain, and position in the stage.

Occasionally you will see Cat. 1 climbs change into Hors Categorie climbs depending on where they are situated in the stage. If everyone is expected to be tired, then the climb will be rated harder.

15:28 CEST - 115 km/62 km to go
Jorg Jaksche (ONCE-Eroski) takes the sprint at followed by Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo) and Len van Bon (Domo).

The points on the Col de la Cheminée are taken by Jakob Piil, from Gian Matteo Fagnini, Leon van Bon, Nicki Sorensen and Erik Dekker.

All the breakaways are taking equal turns, as each of them realise that they're in with a good chance of a stage win.

The peloton hasn't completely forgotten about the 10 leaders, but with a 7'48 gap, it's unlikely they'll pull it back in time.

15:38 CEST - 120 km/56 km to go
The peloton cross the Col de la Cheminée at 7'58, still led by US Postal. Roberto Heras, Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrnos and Benoit Joachim are trading turns. No other team seems to be interested in chasing the 10 riders who broke away after 4 km.

15:49 CEST - 130 km/46 km to go
US Postal continues to lead on this long descent following the Col de la Cheminée, but are making only a slight impression into the break. The lead is still 7'37, which is more than enough for the 10 leaders to stay away. Now the question is who will attack first? Could we see a Scandinavian win, as Hushovd, Piil and Sorensen represent 30 % of the break.

Ted asks why US Postal is content to let breaks go every day, when Lance Armstrong has no chance of chasing them down on the final climb. The reason is that US Postal are interested in one thing: winning the Tour de France. Armstrong has already won three stages, which is plenty (although he would have taken the opportunity to win more if it arose). Stage wins are no longer a priority for them. Of course, if Joseba Beloki (2nd on GC) or Raimondas Rumsas (3rd on GC) were in one of the breaks, Armstrong's team would chase it down very quickly.

15:58 CEST - 135 km/41 km to go
Floyd Landis distributes a few bottles to his teammates, but fumbles one and sends it through the peloton. Everyone seems to avoid it.

To recap, we have 10 leaders in the race: Gian Matteo Fagnini (Telekom), Jorg Jaksche (ONCE), Jakob Piil and Nicki Sorensen (CSC-Tiscali), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Leon Van Bon (Domo), Thierry Loder (Ag2r), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com), Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Nicola Loda (Fassa Bortolo). They escaped at km 4 and currently lead the still complete peloton by 7'46.

16:01 CEST - 137 km/39 km to go
At the top of the Cat. 4 Côte de Giriat, it's Jakob Piil (CSC) taking the 5 points in front of Thierry Loder and Nicki Sorensen (CSC). Just one more climb to come in this stage, the Cat. 2 Col du Berthian. There are a few smaller hills after that, which could see the decisive attack to win the stage.

16:08 CEST - 142 km/34 km to go
The breakaways are now at the base of the Col du Berthiand, a Cat. 2 climb which is 4.7 km long at 6.0%. Perhaps time for an attack? No-one has made an aggressive move so far in this stage, after they got away at 4 km. The gap is 8'10 to the peloton.

Jorg Jaksche attacks, stringing out the break. Van Bon is off the back. Mengin, Jaksche and Sorensen are leading, as Loder and Fagnini try to chase them.

16:12 CEST - 144 km/32 km to go
Jaksche, Mengin, Sorensen, Fagnini and Loder are now leading the race, as the other breakaways (Dekker, Van Bon, Loda, Hushovd and Piil suffer on this climb. Dekker and Van Bon haven't given up though.

Several readers have asked why Beloki and Rumsas didn't attack Armstrong more in the mountains. The simple answer is that they couldn't. Beloki tried on Mont Ventoux and Armstrong countered so hard that Beloki lost nearly 2 minutes. Since then, he and Rumsas have been watching each other closely, but neither have had the legs to attack each other.

16:17 CEST - 146 km/30 km to go
Jaksche, Mengin, Sorensen, Fagnini and Loder have 13 seconds on a lone chaser, Leon van Bon. At 30 seconds are Dekker, Piil and Hushovd. Nicola Loda is further back on his own.

16:20 CEST - 147.5 km/29 km to go
Van Bon has now fallen back to Dekker's group, making a group of four chasing the five leaders.

Jaksche takes the points at the Col du Berthiand, followed by Loder, Mengin, Sorensen, Fagnini. Then Dekker, Hushovd, Piil, and Van Bon at 5 seconds. They make the bridge on the descent. Nicola Loda is definitely dropped.

The peloton, with US Postal in the lead, is cruising up the climb. Armstrong is close to the front, as are Beloki and Rumsas. Robbie McEwen is also there, as well as Zabel. The gap is 9'30.

16:27 CEST - 155 km/22 km to go
Dekker attacks, taking Mengin with him. But he can't hold it on this small climb. Mengin and Sorensen are now in the lead, with Jaksche. Mengin is riding well. The remainder of the break try to chase them down - Hushovd is doing a lot of work, as is Van Bon.

16:30 CEST - 156 km/20 km to go
Jaksche, Sorensen and Mengin are in the lead, with a 13 second gap on Dekker, Piil, Loder, Van Bon, Fagnini and Hushovd. Nicola Loda is at 52 seconds, and the peloton is at 10'33.

The Dekker group works together and starts to close the gap again.

16:33 CEST - 160 km/16 km to go
Dekker and Van Bon close the gap to the leading three, and the rest follow suit. Piil gets to the front on another small descent. All 9 riders are together now, sitting on 70 km/h.

Piil and Hushovd are now a little way off the front.

16:38 CEST - 163 km/13 km to go
Mengin jumps after them as the others watch. Van Bon goes next, but Mengin is gone. Now Dekker goes, with Sorensen on his wheel immediately.

Mengin makes the bridge to Piil and Hushovd. The finish is constantly up and down - it's tough to organise a chase. The leading three are at 18 seconds.

16:40 CEST - 164 km/12 km to go
Hushovd leads up another rise, with a suffering Jakob Piil on his wheel. Mengin looks very strong in third wheel. The six chasers are falling further and further behind. Nicola Loda (remember him?) is at 2'50 and The peloton is still at 10'25.

16:42 CEST - 165 km/11 km to go
Van Bon tries to stir up the chasers, who have lost 35" to the three leaders.

Of the three, Mengin is a good sprinter, but so is Hushovd. The Frenchman had better beware if he is to secure the stage win. Piil is suffering, and starts to talk to his team manager. Bad idea as Hushovd attacks. Mengin goes after him, and Piil claws his way back on.

16:45 CEST - 167 km/9 km to go
The six chasers are at 40 seconds as they go under 10 km to go. They won't make that up. The stage win will be fought out between Thor Hushovd, Christophe Mengin and Jakob Piil.

16:48 CEST - 171 km/5 km to go
The three leaders - Piil, Hushovd and Mengin - have just 5 km to go before the sprint in Bourg-en-Bresse. Chasing them are Erik Dekker, Gian Matteo Fagnini, Leon van Bon, Nicki Sorensen, Jörg Jaksche and Thierry Loder, who trail by 40 seconds.

All three in front are taking equal turns.

16:51 CEST - 173 km/3 km to go
Mengin signals with his elbow for Hushovd to come through. The Norwegian obliges, albeit slowly.

Behind them, Erik Dekker is stirring up the pace but it's too late to catch the leaders.

16:53 CEST - 174 km/2 km to go
43 seconds between the two groups with 2 km to go. The peloton is now 12 minutes (or around 8 km) behind.

No-one has attacked yet on this long, flat and quite straight run into the finish.

16:54 CEST - 175 km/1 km to go
Under the blue 1 km to go construction, and Piil leads.

Stuart O'Grady has attacked the peloton(!). Possibly for some more points.

16:56 CEST - 176 km/0 km to go
Hushovd is in front, with Mengin on his wheel. Piil in third. They watch each other carefully like track sprinters. 250 m to go and Hushovd attacks and wins! Mengin second and Piil (who pulled his foot out of the pedal when he jumped) was third.

Van Bon leads Jaksche and Sorensen home for fourth, and a few seconds behind comes Fagnini, Dekker and Loder. Nicola Loda finishes in 10th.

Stuart O'Grady appears to be time trialling his way to 11th place, but the peloton is not that far behind him.

17:08 CEST - 176 km/0 km to go
US Postal lead all the way into town, to keep Armstrong out of trouble. Telekom get the front with 1 km to go, and McEwen is glued to Zabel's wheel. This is the sprint for the green jersey today. Aldag leads out, then Wesemann, then Svorada. Zabel almost gets it, but McEwen had it on the line. That was close...

McEwen now has a one point lead over Zabel in the green jersey competition, which will be decided once again on the Champs Elysees. So far, McEwen has been faster than Zabel on the whole, but the Telekom top man is quite capable of pulling off a big win in Paris.

The mountains and most combative classifications were unofficially decided today in favour of Laurent Jalabert. No-one can catch him unless he abandons the race for some unfortunate reason.


1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole               4.28.28
2 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux.com
3 Jakob Storm Piil (Den) CSC-Tiscali                  0.05
4 Leon van Bon (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites                 0.33
5 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski
6 Nicki Sørensen (Den) CSC-Tiscali
7 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita) Team Deutsche Telekom     0.40
8 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank
9 Thierry Loder (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance
10 Nicola Loda (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                    6.58
11 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco                  11.42
12 Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom
13 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
14 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre-Daikin

General classification after stage 18

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service         77.30.35
2 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                     5.06
3 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                7.24
4 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca           10.59
5 José Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski                     12.08
6 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski        12.12
7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com               12.28
8 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service    12.54
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                     13.58
10 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Tiscali                   14.49

Thank you for following Stage 18 with us on Cyclingnews.com. We'll be back at 10:30 CEST/01:30 PDT/04:30 EDT/18:30 Aust EST with tomorrow's Stage 19 individual time trial. Au revoir until then.

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