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90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003

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Complete Live Report

Thanks for joining Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour de France. This page provides the complete description of today's stage to bring you up to date. Click here for our faster, auto-refreshing Latest Updates page.

Stage 16 - Wednesday, July 23: Pau - Bayonne, 197.5 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones with additional reporting by Chris Henry, Tim Maloney, and Gabriella Ekström

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 11:36 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:15 CEST

01:26 CEST    


  • Kilometre 67.5: Col du Soudet (14.1 kilometres at 7.5 percent)
  • Kilometre 98: Col du Larrau (2.4 kilometres at 10.5 percent)
  • Kilometre 110: Col de Bagarguy (8.8 kilometres at 9.2 percent)
  • Kilometre 118.5: Col de Burdincurutcheta (2.2 kilometres at 6.2 percent)

From Pau to Bayonne, where the bayonet was invented and the home of the tasty "Jambon de Bayonne" ham, Stage 16 offers the last significant climbing in the 100 anniversary Tour de France. This stage traverses the French side of the Atlantic end of the Pyrenees, through the French Basque country and includes the nasty ascent of the steep Bagarguy, followed by Burdincurutcheta.

These are the last two chances to attack in the mountains, since it's pretty much all downhill to Bayonne on the Atlantic coast. 31 years ago, Dutchman Duyndam took the win, while local resident David Millar may be looking for a home win.

11:29 CEST    4 km/193.5 km to go
The riders ride through Pau for a short neutral section before the flag drops to start the stage proper on the outskirts. Immediately there is an attack by Andy Flickinger (Ag2r) and he is joined by a Brioches and a Bianchi rider. However the counter attacks start in the peloton, and Flickinger is caught.

Sandy Casar (FDJ), Maryan Hary (Brioches) and Rene Andrle (ONCE) are the next riders to attack, and they get a small gap.

Casar goes on his own on a little climb, with the peloton strung out behind him.

11:33 CEST    8 km/189.5 km to go
Commesso is the next rider to attack on the Cote des Crets, a Cat. 4 climb out of town, pumping a huge gear. He gets a Rabobank rider and a Kelme rider as company, with the peloton nipping at their heels.

Commesso's Saeco teammate Gerrit Glomser told Cyclingnews before the start today that "There is no plan. We haven't had a meeting before today's stage. My personal pan is to get to get to Paris. I've been suffering from an inflammation in my right foot and that it seems to be a bad one, it's really hurting me."

Commesso and co. are caught at the top of the climb, but the Italian picked up 5 points ahead of Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and David Latasa (Kelme).

11:39 CEST    13 km/184.5 km to go
The attacks continue over the top of the climb, with David Millar and Paolo Bettini getting a gap on the descent.

There is already a group of 25 riders off the back, and it's reported that Tyler Hamilton is in it. The gap is not big however.

This is "home ground" for Millar, who lives in Biarritz, which is not too far from the finish in Bayonne.

Hamilton's group gets back onto the main peloton.

11:48 CEST    19 km/178.5 km to go
Bettini drops back and signals for Millar to go ahead on his own. Millar will enjoy that...he does continue though, and has 15" on Mario Aerts and one other rider.

The peloton is not far behind though, and Simoni picks up the tempo and stretches out the group. However sprinters Thor Hushovd and Baden Cooke are right with him. The attacks continue, while Millar keeps increasing his lead: it's 30" now.

12:00 CEST    30 km/167.5 km to go
Millar, who attacked on the descent of the Cote des Crets, is having a hard time staying clear of the peloton, which is flying along in the early part of the stage. The constant counter attacks have reduced Millar's gap to 5 seconds now, as two groups of 11 or 12 riders try to come up to him.

Millar is caught by Sylvain Chavanel, with Cooke and Hushovd also up there. US Postal is leading the chase behind, and the peloton comes back together.

12:07 CEST    36 km/161.5 km to go
The attacks continue, and Cofidis is trying to get into everything. David Millar had a go at them yesterday for being absent in the breaks, and they seem to be trying to make amends.

"As normal it's everything for Millar," said a slightly disgruntled Cedric Vasseur to Cyclingnews at the start today.

The latest break looks a bit more promising: Mederic Clain (Cofidis) is with Marc Wauters (Rabobank) and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r), being pursued by a group of seven or so.

12:12 CEST    
The leading groups come together: Finot and Dumoulin (Delatour), Fornaciari (Saeco), Moerenhout (Lotto-Domo), Van de Wouwer (Quick.Step), Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE), Chavanel (Brioches), Turpin (ag2r), Wauters (Rabobank), Mercado (iBanesto), Sorensen (CSC), Casar (FDJ), Latasa (Kelme), Miholjevic (Alessio) and Clain (Cofidis) are all there. But the peloton is still flying, led by US Postal.

None of these riders are remotely threatening on GC, as Mercado is the best placed at 28th, 1:00:49 behind Armstrong. US Postal will be happy to let them get clear, but the other teams might not be.

12:19 CEST    46 km/151.5 km to go
Millar is trying to get across to the 15 leaders with his teammate Inigo Cuesta. The gap is 0'20, and is closeable.

48 kilometres have been covered in the first hour, which is normal for the start of a Tour stage like this.

12:27 CEST    52 km/145.5 km to go
The 15 leaders are now nearly at the foot of the Col du Soudet, a Cat. 1 14 km climb averaging 7.5 percent. Dumoulin gets a gap and tries to make it stick. Juan Miguel Mercado, the best climber in the group, quickly bridges up to him.

David Millar and Inigo Cuesta are still trying to get up to this group, and they are getting closer. They should make it once the serious part of the climb starts.

An Ag2r rider scoots off the front of the peloton, which is a minute behind the leaders now.

Remmert Wielinga (Rabobank) has abandoned the race.

12:34 CEST    55 km/142.5 km to go
Millar and Cuesta join the big breakaway group at the foot of the climb, and immediately get to the front to set the tempo behind Dumoulin and Mercado, who have 15" lead. Dumoulin is having problems following Mercado, who waits a bit for the small French rider. But on the next steep part of the climb, Dumoulin gives up trying to follow the Spanish climber, and waits for the rest of the break.

The peloton is now at 2'55, with Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) about 15" in front of them.

In the peloton, a Euskaltel rider attacks on the Soudet. It's Roberto Laiseka, who takes Mario Aerts (Telekom) and Tyler Hamilton (CSC) with him. The blue Postal jerseys are massed on the front of the peloton, setting a steady tempo.

12:40 CEST    57 km/140.5 km to go
Laiseka and Aerts are moving away from the peloton, with Tyler Hamilton (CSC) in pursuit. An interesting move, and this will surely cause a reaction. Hamilton catches Aerts and Laiseka, and the three start working together.

In front, Mercado is steadily pulling away from the 15 man break, but Dumoulin seems to be coming back to him. Mercado waits, and the two are together again. They are then caught by the rest of the break.

Hamilton is setting a good tempo with Aerts and Laiseka. Another Euskaltel rider has set off in pursuit of this bridging trio, which is 2'50 behind the leaders.

12:46 CEST    58 km/139.5 km to go
The other Euskaltel rider was Iban Mayo, and that causes an immediate reaction from the Postal train. Aerts and Mayo are now back in the bunch, which is 2'30 behind the leaders.

Hamilton is now on his own, catching Mikel Astarloza (who was in between the peloton and the break) and steadily closing in on the leading 17. He sits 9'02 behind Armstrong on GC, so presumably he won't be allowed to get too far in front.

Chavanel is dropped from the break, which is led all the time by Inigo Cuesta.

12:55 CEST    61 km/136.5 km to go
Hamilton is now just 40" behind the Cofidis/Millar leading group, and will catch them before the summit of the Col du Soudet. There is a lot of mist on this climb, and the temperatures are cool as they have been all day. They have six kilometres to go to the summit.

Armstrong has plenty of team-mates with him, with Hincapie, Landis, Beltran, Heras, Rubiera all there to pace him up the climb. Ullrich and Moreau are sitting right next to him.

Hamilton catches his teammate Nicki Sorensen, who has dropped off to wait for him. He will join the break soon. It looks like Mederic Clain has been dropped, along with Fornaciari and Finot.

13:13 CEST    68 km/129.5 km to go
The leaders reach the top of the Soudet, with Quick.Step's Kurt van de Wouwer crossing first in front of Sandy Casar and Juan Miguel Mercado. Hamilton is now in the front group, which is 3'24 in front of the main peloton. That means he's "virtually" close to Haimar Zubeldia's fourth place on GC, having started the day at 9'02 down (Zubeldia is at 5'16).

13:20 CEST    76 km/121.5 km to go
The 10 leaders: Tyler Hamilton and Nicki Sorensen (CSC), Juan Miguel Mercado (iBanesto.com), Marc Wauters (Rabobank), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R Prevoyance), Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com), David Latasa (Kelme-Costa Blanca), Kurt Van De Wouwer (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Vladimir Miholjevic (Alessio) and David Millar (Cofidis) are now on their way down the other side of the Col du Soudet.

They are being pursued by another group of riders: Médéric Clain and Inigo Cuesta (Cofidis), Paolo Fornaciari (Saeco), Samuel Dumoulin and Frédéric Finot (Jean Delatour), Koos Moerenhout (Lotto Domo), Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangere), Alvaro Gonzalez Galdeano (ONCE-Eroski) and Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r).

The peloton follows at 3'20.

13:32 CEST    86 km/111.5 km to go
The 10 leaders, with Hamilton and Millar, have reached the foot of the descent of the Soudor and are en route to the next climb, the Cat. 3 Cote de Larrau (km 98). They are being pursued by nine riders at 1'20, and the US Postal led peloton at 3'20.

Inigo Cuesta has dropped back from the chasing group to the peloton, having done his job in getting Millar up to the break earlier. Euskaltel-Euskadi is setting the tempo in front, 3'15 behind the leaders.

Paolo Bettini punctures but gets a wheel change and is on his way back, having some discussions with the team car. Stuart O'Grady is also in the peloton, having survived the climb.

13:44 CEST    94.5 km/103 km to go
The 10 leaders reach the feed zone at Laugibar with just over 100 km to go. Hamilton is doing a fair bit of work, as he can gain a few places on GC if this break stays clear until the finish.

Behind the leading 10, there are four riders at 1'18 (Astarloza, Fornaciari, Finot and Clain), with the peloton at 3'15. Artetxe, Landaluze, Lopez de Munain and Laiseka are leading the Euskaltel train, followed by US Postal with Armstrong in about 10th wheel.

13:46 CEST    96 km/101.5 km to go
The leaders have hit the short but steep (over 10 percent) climb of the Cote de Larrau. Millar is dropped at the bottom.

Hamilton looks very comfortable as he leads Sorensen and Van de Wouwer up the steep slopes of this Cat. 3 climb.

13:54 CEST    99 km/98.5 km to go
Van De Wouwer wins the points at the top of the climb (his teammate Virenque is secure in the polka dot jersey anyway). Second was Mercado. David Millar is being caught by Clain and his small group, but Clain doesn't wait for him. Millar should get them on the descent, but the next climb, the Col de Bagargui, is 9 km long at an average of over 9 percent.

The peloton is now just 2'29 behind, thanks to the Euskaltel tempo making. Millar and Finot are caught.

At the back of the peloton, Zabel is struggling along with Didier Rous. They should get back on.

14:02 CEST    103 km/96 km to go
The riders are now all on the Col de Bagargui, a steep Cat. 1 climb that should cause some damage. Euskaltel Euskadi continues to lead the peloton, in pursuit of Tyler Hamilton's group in front, which is shedding riders now. Casar and Latasa are dropped.

Hamilton rides away from the front group.

Millar has gone straight out the back of the peloton. He certainly tried today, but didn't have his climbing legs on. He is passed by Santiago Botero, who is also not having a great day.

Apart from Lance Armstrong's blue train right behind the orange Basque boys, Jan Ullrich is right up there with a teammate or two, as is Moreau and Vinokourov.

A problem for Iban Mayo with his derailleur. He waits for the team car and gets help, and is on his way back to the peloton. His teammates wait for him, but that will slow down the tempo of the chase.

14:06 CEST    104 km/93.5 km to go
Hamilton approaches the steepest part of the Bargagui, with the rest of the break scattered behind him. Van De Wouwer, Mercado, Turpin and Miholjevic are next, then Hamilton's teammate Sorensen is a little way in front of Casar, Latasa and Wauters.

Marzio Bruseghin, one of the three Fassa Bortolo riders left in the race, gets to the front to set tempo for Basso, who is in danger of losing his GC position to Hamilton.

14:14 CEST    106 km/91.5 km to go
There are no more Euskaltel riders in front of the peloton now, and Hamilton's lead is back up to 3'18. A minute behind him are Juan Miguel Mercado (iBanesto.com), Kurt Van De Wouwer (Quick.Step-Davitamon) and Vladimir Miholjevic (Alessio). Then the remnants of the break with Sorensen, Casar and Latasa.

Clain and Fornaciari have gone out the back of the bunch, after they were caught on the climb.

There aren't too many spectators on this climb, perhaps to to the cool weather but more likely because sometimes people have to work on Wednesdays.

14:18 CEST    
Hamilton gets encouragement from team leader Bjarne Riis as he tackles the final three kilometres. He's clearly in a lot of pain, squinting through his eyes as he keeps the pedals turning.

Behind him, Mercado, Sorensen, Van de Wouwer and Turpin have got together.

The peloton is being led by Hincapie, who is having a good day in the hills. Armstrong, Vinokourov, Basso, Moreau, Mayo, Zubeldia, Boogerd, Virenque, Dufaux are all there. Mancebo is suffering at the back though, along with Angel Casero.

14:22 CEST    109 km/88.5 km to go
Wauters, then Latasa are caught by the peloton, which is grinding its way up the Col de Bagarguy. The gap to Hamilton is 3'45, with Van de Wouwer's group at 2'45 behind Hamilton. Just one km to go until the summit.

14:25 CEST    110 km/87.5 km to go
Hamilton reaches the top of the climb, where there are more (non-working) spectators. It's fairly misty up here and the descent should be interesting. He gets a bottle from the team car at the top.

Miholjevic takes second (he has been between Hamilton and the break), then Juan Miguel Mercado accelerates away from his group, and fights his way through a large throng of spectators to take third on the climb, 2'39 behind Hamilton. Van De Wouwer was fourth, followed by Sorensen and Turpin.

The peloton is at 4'00, led by Dufaux, Moreau and Virenque. Bettini is also in the peloton, and is a candidate for the stage win if they ever get Hamilton back.

14:34 CEST    116 km/81.5 km to go
Hamilton is now on the penultimate climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Col de Burdincurutcheta. It's only 2 km long though, and won't take the American long.

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) has attacked the peloton on the descent, in pursuit of the next group of riders on the road (Van de Wouwer, Sorensen, Miholjevic, Turpin and Mercado).

The peloton crosses at 4'33.

14:41 CEST    119 km/78.5 km to go
Hamilton looks comfortable on the Burdincurutcheta, and takes the points at the top of the mist shrouded climb. He again signals for his team car to get a bottle at the top. 3'10 behind him, Miholjevic, Mercado, Van de Wouwer, Turpin and Sorensen take the rest of the points.

Marzio Bruseghin is leading the peloton again, with a train of US Postal riders behind him. Hamilton, who started 9'02 behind has overtaken Basso, Zubeldia and Mayo on GC and sits in a virtual fourth place.

14:51 CEST    130 km/67.5 km to go
Hamilton has no problems with the very technical descent after the Burdincurutcheta, and hits the bottom with a 3'20 lead on five chasers, who are about to be caught by Michael Boogerd. The peloton is at 4'26.

Virenque and Paolini get a gap on the descent, but they are only fooling around and they wait for the peloton, which is around 40 riders strong.

14:58 CEST    135 km/62.5 km to go
Boogerd has caught the five riders in front of him, with Mercado, Sorensen, Van de Wouwer, Turpin and Miholjevic. They are 3'20 behind the lone Tyler Hamilton, who is having a great ride today after attacking on the Col du Soudet. The peloton, led by Bruseghin and a Euskaltel rider, is at 4'35.

Hamilton takes the first sprint in St Jean le Vieux, signaling again for his team car. Miholjevic takes second, followed by Boogerd.

The peloton is growing in size. Bruseghin gets some more help from Landaluze and Laiseka (Euskaltel) in his tempo making efforts.

15:08 CEST    143.5 km/54 km to go
Tyler Hamilton has 54 km to go and is on the final climb of the day, the Cat. 4 Côte de Bonetbelchenea. It's a short climb, and won't present him with any difficulties.

Behind him, there is a six man break led by Michael Boogerd at nearly 4'00. The peloton, with Artetxe, Laiseka and Bruseghin doing all the work, is at 4'32.

15:13 CEST    147 km/50.5 km to go
Hamilton takes the points on the Côte de Bonetbelchenea, and begins the descent.

Turpin is a little way in front of the Boogerd group, and will take second place. Boogerd's group is pretty well caught by the peloton, as Lelli sprints around them to take third place.

It looks like Zabel and O'Grady have made it back to the peloton, and this could mean a serious chase for the sprint. At the moment, it's still the two Euskaltels with Bruseghin keeping the gap at 4'56.

15:25 CEST    155 km/42.5 km to go
Hamilton takes the final sprint at Irissary, with a five minute gap to Turpin and Lelli, who have 20" lead on the peloton. In the bunch, Santi Botero is working with the two Euskaltel riders, Artetxe and Laiseka, to try and bring back Hamilton. Botero's teammate Erik Zabel is in the peloton, which is at least 60 riders strong now.

15:31 CEST    158 km/39.5 km to go
Lelli and Turpin are caught, as all of a sudden, five Telekom riders are seen at the front with the two Euskaltels. This could be serious for Hamilton's chances, as Erik Zabel is a big chance for the stage win now. Also Vinokourov's GC position is being threatened by Hamilton at the moment (Hamilton was 9'02, Vino was 2'45 down on GC). The current gap is just over 5'00.

We spoke to Quick.Step's Michael Rogers today before the start, and he said that his own plan was to "Sit in and save some energy for the time trial. Maybe some other guys from the team will get in a break like Bettini or Canada."

Quick.Step has a good chance at winning the stage with Bettini, but it will have to assist in the chase.

15:38 CEST    165.5 km/32 km to go
The Telekom chase is not having much of an effect, except to keep the gap at 5'15. They'll need more help if they are to catch Hamilton, who has 32 km to go.

There are now three Telekoms plus a a Quick.Step rider in front - it's David Canada. They are followed by Lance Armstrong and his US Postal train. The peloton is fairly large and if it got organised, it could bring the lone American back. However it looks like Hamilton is on his way to an amazing stage victory.

15:46 CEST    172.5 km/25 km to go
Hamilton crosses under the 25 km to go banner, with his lead now under the five minute mark. The chase in the peloton is being made by Telekom, Quick.Step, Euskaltel and Fassa Bortolo, who have each put a few riders on the front. It probably won't be enough to catch Hamilton, who is still looking very strong as he powers along the undulating roads towards Bayonne.

The peloton comes past the 25 km banner 4'40 behind Hamilton. The chase looks to be well manned now, but it could be too late.

15:53 CEST    177.5 km/20 km to go
Not long after the bunch passed the 25 km to go mark, Hamilton goes under 20 km to go. He's struggling, but riding powerfully and not looking like he'll run out of gas. This will be a big coup for him and CSC on several fronts. He improves his GC position, as well as the team's. And if the gap doesn't come down too much, he'll have a chance at the podium if he rides well in the TT. Remarkable.

15:55 CEST    180.5 km/17 km to go
Rogers, Lopez de Munain, Botero, Virenque, Aerts, Gureini, and more riders are in front of the peloton, which is 4'25 behind Hamilton. Zabel is well placed, near Ullrich and Armstrong, but he may well be sprinting for second place today.

15:59 CEST    184 km/13.5 km to go
Mario Aerts looks to have had enough of this chase, and drops back on a climb. There are still eight or nine riders on the front, chasing hard. Quick.Step look to be interested in Paolo Bettini's chances.

But all the time, it's Tyler Hamilton, who has less than 15 km to go and a 4'00 lead. If he can keep 2'00 of that and ride a good time trial, then he has an excellent chance of finishing 4th on GC.

16:03 CEST    186.5 km/11 km to go
Hamilton gets encouragement from Bjarne Riis, as he fights to keep as much of his lead as possible. He will surely win the stage, but the question is by how much. He'll also take a total of 32 bonus seconds, which will help his GC chances.

16:06 CEST    189.5 km/8 km to go
Hamilton is a good 3 km in front of the bunch with 8 kilometres left to race. He's flying along, and has done incredibly well to hold off this concerted chase behind him. Telekom , Euskaltel and Quick.Step are working very hard behind him, but the gap is still over four minutes.

16:08 CEST    190.5 km/7 km to go
Telekom is putting everything into the chase, and with 10 km to go (for the peloton), the gap is 3'46. Hamilton will probably not end up in fourth overall today, but he might after Saturday.

Hamilton tries to find a more comfortable gear to ride in - but there isn't one. It's just pain at different cadences.

16:11 CEST    192.5 km/5 km to go
Hamilton is now inside 5 km to go, having done that last 5 km in 6'45. The peloton is within 3'30 now.

16:14 CEST    194.5 km/3 km to go
Hamilton flies along the lake into Bayonne at 50km/h, and will keep a lot of his lead. The peloton is now at 3'08, led all the time by Telekom and Quick.Step. They're sprinting for second though.

16:15 CEST    195.5 km/2 km to go
The crowds start to thicken as Hamilton passes under 2 km to go. He is almost home, and has earned an impressive victory.

16:16 CEST    196.5 km/1 km to go
Hamilton goes under the flamme rouge (now blue, due to the Aquarel sponsorship). He is cheered on by thousands who are witnessing a great ride by the CSC rider.

16:18 CEST    
Hamilton looks behind at his team car and gives it everything to the finish. He shakes Riis' hand with 300m to go, and crosses the line in Bayonne, arms raised in triumph. That was an amazing ride.

Vinokourov leads out the sprint with Totschnig on his wheel. O'Grady is well placed, but Zabel is too strong and takes second. Krivstov is third, in front of Paolini and Glomser.

Hamilton's final gap to the peloton was 1'55, but with the 32 bonus seconds he picked up along the way he is now into sixth overall, 6'35 behind Armstrong. He's a lot closer to Zubeldia and Mayo now, and could well move up further on GC in the final time trial.

The other classifications are unchanged, with Armstrong keeping the yellow jersey, Baden Cooke the green (points), Richard Virenque the polka dots (mountains) and Denis Menchov the white (young rider).

Thanks for following our coverage of the 16th stage. We'll be back at 12:45 tomorrow with live coverage of the 17th stage.


1 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                            4.59.41
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                               1.55
3 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Jean Delatour                              
4 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                         
5 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco                                      
6 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank                                    
7 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                 
8 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJeux.com                                    
9 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Bianchi                               
10 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
General classification after stage 16
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor             70.37.59
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi                              1.07
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                     2.45
4 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                     5.16
5 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                           5.25
6 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                               6.35
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              8.08
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                    11.12
9 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com                       16.05
10 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                              16.12

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