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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 20 - Sunday, July 27: Ville d'Avray - Paris Champs-Elysées, 152 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: 13.38 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:26 CEST

12:49 CEST    
The last depart
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Welcome to Cyclingnews coverage of the 20th and final stage of the Tour de France, brought to you in association with T-Mobile. Today's stage is the traditional and very spectacular "parade stage" of the Tour, finishing on the Champs-Elysees, France's best known avenue.

The stage will start in Ville d'Avray, winding through the hilly western suburbs of Paris before the final 10 circuits on the Champs-Elysees. The last time Ville d'Avray hosted a stage it was over a century ago, when the winner of the first-ever Tour Maurice Garin came home the victor.

Today's stage should not affect the general classification - that was decided yesterday in the great time trial battle between Pornic and Nantes. It also won't affect the mountains classification (Richard Virenque has had that in the bag for a week), the young rider's classification (Denis Menchov has a 42 minute lead there), or the team's classification, which has been secured by Team CSC.

However there are two classifications that are very much open: the green sprinters jersey, currently held by Robbie McEwen on 178 pts, with Baden Cooke in second on 176 pts, Erik Zabel third on 165 pts and Thor Hushovd fourth on 151 pts. This will come down to the final sprint.

Also there is the Centenaire classification, which is currently being led by Stuart O'Grady on 76 pts, with teammate Hushovd in second on 81 pts and Fabrizio Guidi third on 92 pts. This is worth €50,000 to win (three times more than the green jersey), and the rider with the lowest total points will take home the prize. One point is awarded for finishing first, two points for second and so on. Full explanation here.

13:38 CEST    
The riders are underway in damp but clearing conditions for the final stage. The first half of this stage is usually ridden at a steady pace before the pace picks up on the Champs Elysees. Due to the slippery cobbles on the finishing circuit, the commissaires were even considering limiting the stage to just one lap (instead of 10) due to the danger. We hope that it will remain clear, although the roads at the start are certainly wet.

We spoke to US Postal director Dirk Demol at the start. "It's almost over but anything could happen - a crash or a mechanical or something like that could do it," he said.

The other big" news today was the announcement that a rider has tested positive for EPO in the Tour. The race organisers have decided to withhold announcing who it is until after the race...

13:44 CEST    3 km/149 km to go
Gerolsteiner's Uwe Peschel, who broke two ribs in his crash in yesterday's time trial, did not start today. Bad luck for the German, who was in his first Tour.

There is one more Cat. 4 climb today, the Côte du Mont Valérien after 23.5 km. Given that the mountains jersey has been wrapped up, it's unlikely that this will be hotly contested.

There are also two intermediate sprints, both at the top of the Champs-Elysées (km 66 and km 95). These will certainly be contested.

13:58 CEST    10 km/142 km to go
Grey jerseys for USPS
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
The US Postal team rolled up to the start today in different colour jerseys. Instead of the standard blue, eight of the nine riders in the team were wearing greyish jerseys with "US Mail" printed on the side. Dan Osipow told us that they were special "retro jerseys" that were made up just for today. Of course, one of them was wearing a yellow jersey (no prizes for guessing which one).

Lance Armstrong is on track to claim his fifth Tour win today, which will put him in an elite club of riders: Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain all won five Tours. No-one has won six, but Armstrong has said that he'll be back next year.

14:15 CEST    20 km/132 km to go
US Postal (or US mail if you prefer) is on the front of the peloton, lapping up the adulation of the fans who are cheering for them as they ride past at a steady tempo. Most of them are wearing arm warmers - a curious sight in July in summer.

Richard Virenque drops back to his team car to change both wheels. The rain has stopped now and the sun is shining, so the roads are fairly dry.

14:24 CEST    23 km/129 km to go
The pace is very gentle at the moment as the 147 remaining riders in the Tour approach the final climb, the Côte du Mont Valérien. Moreau leads out, with Mercado on his wheel. Moreau takes the points, which means he overtakes Mercado for fourth in the Mountains classification, and a little more prize money. Sebastien Hinault (CA) took third in that sprint.

The pace has eased off again after that climb, with Pavel Padrnos sitting on the front.

14:28 CEST    
We're heading for the fastest Tour de France ever this year, with the average speed after 19 stages sitting at 40.909 km/h. The next fastest was the 1999 Tour, won by Lance Armstrong, which was raced at an average of 40.276 km/h. Certainly the flat stages in this Tour have been extremely quick, with so many riders keen to get away and try and win a stage.

Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) is looking quite happy with himself today, chatting to his former Telekom teammate Matthias Kessler. Ullrich said after yesterday that he was thrilled at finishing second again in the Tour, especially after a less than ideal preparation. He wanted to win the time trial yesterday, but realised that he couldn't win the Tour as soon as he saw the rain. When he crashed, he was 6 seconds up on Armstrong and around 20 seconds up on Millar (who won). Today, Ullrich is sporting a bandage on his right arm. Ullrich vowed to be back next year to battle against Armstrong again.

14:34 CEST    28 km/124 km to go
The FDJeux.com team has dropped back to help Baden Cooke get back on. The whole team is riding with 54 tooth chainrings today, so it's evident that they're going to try and set up a leadout for Cooke to try and secure the green jersey.

14:44 CEST    33 km/119 km to go
Lance Armstrong gets a glass of champagne from team director Bruyneel in the car. He clinks glasses, as a posse of photographers on motorbikes capture the moment. Now the rest of the team have glasses and are drinking them, Armstrong included. Probably not enough to get done for DUI :-)

14:45 CEST    
Green jersey (and sunglasses) wearer Robbie McEwen is now towards the front of the peloton, looking somewhat more nervous than the rest of the riders. There's a lot at stake today for the sprinters, and Robbie told Cyclingnews this morning that "I want to keep it and I'm going to try my best of course but I reckon it's going to be a very very hard fight."

McEwen is now chatting to Saeco's Fabio Sacchi.

14:53 CEST    38 km/114 km to go
McEwen's teammate Hans de Clercq is the current Lanterne Rouge of the Tour peloton (last rider on GC). "I'm not proud of it but once I got it I'm got used to it," de Clercq told Cyclingnews this morning. "It is something that distinguishes me from the other riders and I'm getting a lot of attention now from the media and the spectators. Everyone wants to know something about me."

15:07 CEST    44 km/108 km to go
The riders are still winding their way through the suburbs of Paris towards the centre, where they will hit the Champs Elysees fairly soon. It's quite a pleasant ride along the Seine now. The pace is still relaxed, but it will pick up after a lap or two of the Champs.

The weather is holding still, and it looks as though it will stay dry for the rest of the stage.

Regarding the Centenaire classification, which is currently being led by Stuart O'Grady (76pts) followed by Thor Hushovd (81pts), we spoke to a confident looking O'Grady at the start of the stage. "Yeah it's going to be a big night tonight," he laughed, thinking of the €50,000 first prize. "I need to finish top 25 or something to secure it. I think I should be able to do it. And then I have Thor in second, so the team should have a pretty big chance of taking it."

15:15 CEST    49 km/103 km to go
Landmarks aplenty
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
The peloton is now in the centre of Paris, riding along the wide, treelined roads past the Eiffel Tower (where the Tour began three weeks ago) and towards the Place de la Bastille. Alessio and Ag2r are on the front row, with a couple of "US Mail" riders.

15:22 CEST    54 km/98 km to go
The first sprint is approaching in 10 kilometres time, and already the Lotto-domo riders are massing themselves on the front of the bunch for McEwen. The riders are now almost at the Place de la Bastille, and will hit the first passage of the finish line soon.

15:29 CEST    59 km/93 km to go
The pace is starting to increase now as the riders hit the Place de la Nation. This stage really takes advantage of the well known landmarks of Paris, and is a perfect showcase for the most beautiful city in the world.

15:34 CEST    
The peloton passes (at a distance) the Notre Dame cathedral, still as a solid block, with Bianchi, Saeco and Lotto jerseys in front. Lance Armstrong is loafing down the back with David Millar.

15:38 CEST    66 km/86 km to go
Serge Baguet attacks first, with a train of Lottos behind him. Cooke reacts, with McEwen on his wheel. The FDJeux.com train takes over with 350m to go to the finish line. Mengin sets up the sprint, then Casar, McGee, Cooke and McEwen. The sprint is a little way past the line, at the top of the Champs Elysees.

Mengin peels off, then Casar and McGee finish off the leadout. Zabel has to work hard to try and get McEwen's wheel. Cooke gets the sprint, with McEwen second and Zabel third. That means that Cooke has equal points, but is effectively in green as he has one stage win.

15:40 CEST    68 km/84 km to go
The race is on in earnest now, and it looks like Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches) and Michael Rogers (Quick.Step) on the attack. They are caught by the peloton, which is strung out now. Ullrich is well placed in fifth wheel.

15:43 CEST    70 km/82 km to go
Strung out
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Peron, Pineau, Bodrogi, Liese, De Groot, Portal and Vasseur have a small gap to the peloton now as they make this big 27 km circuit before the 6.5 km finishing laps.

Dario Cioni has a puncture.

15:47 CEST    74 km/78 km to go
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) told Cyclingnews this morning that Bram de Groot is very strong now and will try something. Well, he has.

US Postal (or US Mail in their retro jerseys) is on the front of the bunch, trying to close down the gap to the seven leaders. They do so. Bodrogi hangs out in front.

Cioni has come back to the peloton after his puncture.

15:51 CEST    76 km/76 km to go
US Postal has brought everything back, and the pace slows a little. There might be a little bit of calm until the race explodes for the finale.

16:02 CEST    85 km/67 km to go
US Postal (now in grey) is lining out the peloton now with yellow jersey Lance Armstrong in tow. The pace is up around the 40 km/h mark now, and it will only get faster.

Patrice Halgand has crashed in a puddle of water. He's unhurt, but he'll have a bit of a chase to get back on. Now, will US Postal wait?

Well, they don't increase the pace anyway, allowing Halgand to get back on with the help of a teammate. It was an unfortunate crash - possibly he hit a pothole or drain that was obscured by a large puddle of water on the edge of the road.

16:07 CEST    88 km/64 km to go
Halgand is safely back in the peloton after his mishap, as Slava Ekimov sits on the front setting the tempo for Armstrong.

Throughout the Tour, Cyclingnews has been inundated with email from readers with questions, compliments or criticism. We have tried to respond to most of you, but sometimes it's not possible. Also, many of your questions are answered in the FAQ.

We'd certainly like to say "thank you" to everyone who has written in, including those of you who are following our coverage in the middle of the North Sea and on a boat cruising around the coast to Miami!

16:11 CEST    93 km/59 km to go
The peloton is passing the Louvre, next to the Jardin des Tuileries, still led by US Postal. The second sprint is approaching in a few kilometres, and FDJeux.com are getting their train going again. McEwen is safely on Cooke's wheel.

16:12 CEST    95 km/57 km to go
US Postal lead across the finishing line for the second time, then FDJ start their leadout straight away. Casar powers away in front, then McGee, Da Cruz, Cooke, McEwen and Zabel.

McEwen goes early and easily takes the sprint from Cooke. Nice anticipation. Zabel takes third again. They sit up, and now will have to wait for the final sprint to see who wears the green. McEwen now has 2 points lead over Cooke.

There is a counter attack by Edaleine (Jean Delatour) straight after the sprint.

16:16 CEST    97 km/55 km to go
US Postal continue their team time trial formation on the front, and Edaleine is history. They've got seven riders on the front with Armstrong in eighth and the other postie right behind him. The peloton is really moving now.

Christophe Oriol (Ag2r) sprints off the front, but he'll have a hard time holding off the "grey train". Ullrich and Vinokourov are sitting right behind Armstrong, as is normal.

16:18 CEST    100 km/52 km to go
Oriol extends his lead to 8 seconds as he crosses the finish line for the third time. There are still eight 6.5 km laps to go. US Postal is on the front, as usual.

16:21 CEST    102 km/50 km to go
Oriol nearly makes it up to the Arc de Triomphe, but cannot defy the laws of physics and brute strength, and is mowed down by US Postal. Immediately there are counterattacks, with Lefevre, Voeckler and a Kelme rider trying. No-one can escape yet.

16:23 CEST    106 km/46 km to go
The attacks are splitting the peloton, with Brochard, Kessler and eight others getting off the front. The peloton is close behind them, very strung out.

Brochard attacks again as they are caught.

16:25 CEST    106.5 km/45.5 km to go
Brochard is riding strongly, and like his teammate Oriol a lap before, he has opened up an 8 second gap to the US Postal led peloton as he crosses the line for the fourth time.

Garica Acosta has a puncture, and will have difficulty getting back on at this speed. He has to wait a bit for a spare wheel.

We just received an email from Pam, who is "watching" the live coverage from a gold mine in northern Tanzania. The wonders of the internet :-)

16:28 CEST    
"La Broche" takes the right hand side of the road up the Champs-Elysees towards the Arc de Triomphe, avoiding the cobbles. He is cheered by the thousands of fans lining the road several deep.

The peloton, led by US Postal, is 13 seconds behind the pony tailed Frenchman.

16:32 CEST    110 km/42 km to go
Laurent Brochard continues his lone breakaway, powering along in his big gear around the back of the course. There is a small group that has peeled off the front of the peloton in pursuit, but they're not organised. He has 10 seconds.

16:33 CEST    113 km/39 km to go
Brochard crosses the line for the fifth time - he has 6 x 6.5 km laps to go, as the peloton erupts in pursuit. His gap is coming down now, but he still has 7 seconds.

Cedric Vasseur and Andrea Peron bridge up to him.

16:35 CEST    115 km/37 km to go
There are now three leaders hammering up towards the Arc de Triomphe at 50 km/h. Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) bridges up to them easily. Then the peloton comes up behind.

Brochard tries again, but it's useless. Then Jakob Piil (CSC) leads them round the U-turn at the top of the course. Piil extends his gap a little on the descent.

16:40 CEST    119 km/33 km to go
The peloton is strung out in one long snake as numerous riders try to hammer off the front. But it's hard at 65 km/h.

Another Ag2r rider accelerates - it looks like Astarloza. Seven riders go with him. The group gets together just before the the Place de la Concorde. Blaudzun, Bodrogi, Garcia Acosta(!), Latasa, Hary, Sebastien Hinault, Bram de Groot.

They have 25" lead over the peloton as they cross the line - the biggest gap so far.

16:43 CEST    121 km/31 km to go
The peloton sits up a bit, allowing the eight leaders to get 40" in front at the Arc de Triomphe. FDJeux.com put a rider in front, but they'll need more than that.

16:46 CEST    123 km/29 km to go
FDJeux.com have more riders in front, trying to close the 0'44 gap to the eight riders in front. There are a couple of Telekoms in front too. They'll need to ride flat out to get them back.

Millar punctures, bit his team waits for him and brings him back.

16:49 CEST    126 km/26 km to go
We still have eight leaders: Blaudzun, Bodrogi, Garcia Acosta, Astarloza, Latasa, Hary, Hinault and de Groot, and they cross the Place de La Concorde just before the seventh finish line passage. Just 26 km to go now.

The chase is led still by Telekom and FDJeux.com, but they are outnumbered. There is a Delatour rider up there too. The gap at the finish line is 44 seconds.

16:51 CEST    128 km/24 km to go
The leaders hit the Arc de Triomphe as the peloton grinds away behind them in pursuit. Telekom is working quite hard, and the gap is 43 seconds. Status quo....

16:54 CEST    131 km/21 km to go
The leaders hit the back side of the course, still cooperating well, trying to keep this hungry pack at bay. The bunch is gradually reducing the gap, second by second. It's now down to 41 seconds.

Cofidis has put a few men in front of the peloton too, and this will help the Telekom/FDJ/Delatour chase.

16:56 CEST    132 km/20 km to go
The organisation in the peloton is greater: 12 men in front compared to 8 working in the break. They've brought the leaders back to 36 seconds, but there's still a lot of work to do over these last three laps.

Bodrogi is one of the strongest riders in the break - he finished fifth in the TT yesterday.

16:58 CEST    134 km/18 km to go
The sun is shining more strongly now, much to the satisfaction of the thousands of fans who are appreciating this fast finale to the Centenary Tour. We've still got eight leaders, who are now just 30" in front of a hard working peloton.

17:00 CEST    135 km/17 km to go
The break is going fast, but the peloton is going faster. The gap is down to 27" at the Arc, and the bunch is closing in all the time. Mengin, Goubert, Aldag and Nardello are working hard for their teams.

Andriotto has a flat tyre.

17:02 CEST    137 km/15 km to go
The break goes under the tunnel before the Place de la Concorde. Cofidis is working hard now on the front of the peloton, and the gap is 25". It's coming back, but is it fast enough?

17:03 CEST    139 km/13 km to go
Just two laps to go for the eight leaders: Blaudzun, Bodrogi, Garcia Acosta, Astarloza, Latasa, Hary, Hinault and de Groot. Could De Groot finally pull off a stage win? It's hard to tell at this point, as in all likelihood they'll be caught. 22 seconds on the line with two to go.

Aldag leads the bunch across, reducing the gap to just 18 seconds.

17:05 CEST    140 km/12 km to go
The bunch flies up towards the Arc for the second last time, gradually reeling in the breakaways. Just 12 km to go though.

17:07 CEST    142 km/10 km to go
It's 13 seconds at the Arc with 11 km to go. It's going to be very hard for the front riders to hold off the bunch. Cofidis and Telekom are doing a lot of work, even though Cofidis doesn't have a sprinter of note.

Bodrogi is hammering in the break, but they're losing ground all the time.

17:09 CEST    
Cofidis and Telekom are the two teams doing all the work in the bunch.

Koos Moerenhout (Lotto-Domo) punctures. That won't help at this stage of the proceedings.

17:11 CEST    145.5 km/6.5 km to go
Cooke, McEwen, O'Grady, Vainsteins, Zabel are all well placed near the front of the peloton as they hit the kilometre sign, just eight seconds behind the break.

The eight leaders are looking around - they can sense that it will be over soon.

One lap to go, and it's eight seconds. The Telekom train has disappeared however until Aerts gets to the front and lifts the tempo. FDJeux.com comes back with a couple of men.

17:13 CEST    147 km/5 km to go
Astarloza attacks the break, but they're all on his wheel. There is a lot of attacking and counter attacking. De Groot counters, with Acosta on his wheel. They're all looking at each other, and it's finished.

Liese leads the peloton onto the back wheels of the break, 3 seconds behind at the Arc de Triomphe.

17:14 CEST    148 km/4 km to go
Hinault attacks down the other side, taking De Groot, Astarloza, Garcia Acosta, and Blaudzun with him. Telekom is back on the front, and Astarloza and De Groot, the last two riders, are caught.

17:15 CEST    149 km/3 km to go
The leadout is not looking well organised yet, as everyone wants to have a go in front. McEwen is right on Cooke's wheel.

17:16 CEST    150 km/2 km to go
Vinokourov himself does the work for Telekom, keeping an eye on Brochard. FDJ and Quick.Step have got trains going now with 2 km to go.

Bramati, Vino, Rogers are leading through the tunnel for the final time.

17:17 CEST    151 km/1 km to go
Last kilometre: Vinokourov leads Rogers, Zabel and OGrady. Bettini is right up there. Cooke is on McEwen's wheel still.

17:18 CEST    152 km/0 km to go
Vinokourov, McGee, Zabel lead into the last 500m. McGee takes over. He puts in a huge lead out, then Hushovd goes. Cooke goes with McEwen on his wheel. McEwen doesn't get it though - it looks like JP Nazon!!

Who got second - I think it's Cooke, who takes the green by millimetres. But Nazon wins the stage, that's for sure. What a Tour for him - a day in yellow too.

Cooke and McEwen clashed shoulders at the end, but Cooke got it on the line. Paolini took fourth in front of Hushovd and O'Grady, which means that O'Grady wins the Centenaire classification from Hushovd.

A more detailed description of the sprint:

After McGee pulled away after his stellar lead-out onto the Champs Elysees, Norwegian Thor Hushovd took it up the middle, then Cooke came around and swung to the left a little as McEwen moved off his wheel. Cooke straightened and McEwen came up alongside Cooke. As they approached the line McEwen veered into Coke, clipping his elbow, the FDJeux.com rider compensated and counterbalanced against McEwen, just as they hit the line with Cooke's Lapierre just centimetres in front. However, they were only sprinting for second - apart from the green jersey - as JP Nazon flew up the middle and won the sprint by half a bike-length.

Lance Armstrong had no difficulties in that final stage, and finished the Tour safely in yellow, his fifth Tour de France in a row. Interestingly he was 112th in the stage, and lost 15" to Jan Ullrich and the rest of the top 10. But that didn't really matter today. His final winning margin: 1'01 and he joins the five time club!

In the other classifications, Baden Cooke won the green jersey by just two points, Richard Virenque won the polka dot jersey by a considerably larger margin, Denis Menchov the white jersey, Stuart O'Grady (CA) the Centenaire classification, Alexandre Vinokourov the most combative classification, Rene Andrle (Cze) the best rider from a new EU country classification, and Team CSC the teams classification.

That's just about it from the live team for this year's Tour de France. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage of this year's Centenary Tour. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for our full race wrap up, results, photos and plenty more as always. Next weekend we'll be covering the HEW Cyclassics live, the sixth round of the World Cup. Until then, adieu.


1 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) Jean Delatour                   3.38.49
2 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com                                    
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto Domo                                  
4 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                         
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole                              
6 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Credit Agricole                            
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                                   
8 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-So.Di                    
9 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco                                      
10 Damien Nazon (Fra) Bricohes La Boulangere                      

Final general classification

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor              83.41.12
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi                               1.01
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom                      4.14
4 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                                6.17
5 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      6.51
6 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                            7.06

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