91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004
& Results Stage
Live Report Results
Stage 14 - Sunday July 18: Carcassonne - Nimes, 192.5 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 12:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:19 CEST
The Pyrenees are over and with Monday a rest day, Stage 14 is a dead flat transitional
stage for sprinters from the fortified city of Carcassonne to Nimes, site of
an ancient Roman amphitheatre. Sunday will likely see maillot vert Robbie McEwen
and his foes battle it out in final on the last stage left for the fast men
before Paris. With a prevailing tailwind from the west along the Mediterranean
Sea, Stage 14 is likely to be run at a superfast pace.
The weather at the start today is warm (27 degrees) and humid, with the rain
this morning having cleared up. There is a stiff wind blowing at 30-40 km/h
from the east, which will be against the riders for the first part of the stage.
However towards the end it will switch round to the south west approaching Nimes.
There are no climbs today, and only two intermediate sprints at Capestang (53km)
and Villevieille (166.5km).
The flag is dropped after a fairly long 8.1 km neutral section.
12:55 CEST 3km/189.5km to go
Bobby Julich injured
After crashing in stage 13 yesterday, CSC's Bobby Julich is looking a little worse
for wear this morning in Carcassonne. His right wrist is all taped up and it's
quite painful, although nothing is broken.
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
12:58 CEST 8km/184.5km to go
Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) opened the hostilities, and was joined by Janek Tombak,
Mark Scanlon and Guillaume Auger, but they was quickly chased down by the Fassa
Bortolo team. A new wave of attacking starts, as is traditional at the start
of any Tour stage.
12:59 CEST 8.5km/184km to go
Servais Knaven (Quick.Step) is the next rider to have a go, but he is caught
as well. The riders are really moving at the start, and the speed is over 50
13:07 CEST 15km/177.5km to go
The peloton has covered 15 km in not much more than 17 minutes. But still no-one
has been able to get clear.
13:14 CEST 20.5km/172km to go
Despite the headwind at the start today, the average speed is still well over
50 km/h as the peloton remains strung out in a long line. It usually takes between
30-50 km before a break can get clear. <scarcasm>Everyone must be full
of beans after the two nice easy days in the Pyrenees.</sarcasm>
13:19 CEST 25km/167.5km to go
There is a small split in the peloton as 20 riders get clear, including Nardello,
Pozzato, Garcia Acosta, Knaven, Pineau, Scanlon, Wilson, Kroon and Commesso.
13:21 CEST 26.5km/166km to go
The leading group of 20: Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile Team), Bert Grabsch, Nicolas
Jalabert (Phonak Hearing Systems), Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo),
Pierrick Fedrigo (Crédit Agricole), José V. Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Christophe
Edaleine, Jimmy Engoulvent, Dmitri Fofonov (Cofidis), Servais Knaven (Quick
Step-Davitamon), Jérôme Pineau (Brioches La Boulangère), Mark Scanlon (AG2R
Prévoyance), Karsten Kroon, Marc Lotz (Rabobank), Christophe Mengin, Matthew
Wilson (Fdjeux.com), Salvatore Commesso (Saeco), Koos Moerenhout (Lotto-Domo),
Paolo Valoti (Domina Vacanze).
There is a second group chasing these riders, with the yellow/green/polka dot
jerseys in the main peloton a little bit further back.
13:27 CEST 29.2km/163.3km to go
The seven riders chasing the leading 20 are: Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo),
Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole), Michele Bartoli (Team CSC), Dmitri Fofonov (Cofidis),
Stefano Zanini (Quick Step-Davitamon), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R Prévoyance), Erik
Noteworthy is that nearly all of the riders in the group, except Pineau (24th
at 14'48) and Nardello (48th at 44'51) are more than an hour down on GC.
13:34 CEST 32.5km/160km to go
At the moment there are now 18 riders in the lead, being chased by a group of
seven and then the peloton with the yellow jersey in it. Rabobank seems to be
very aggressive, with Kroon, Lotz and Dekker in these groups. Cofidis also has
three (Edalaine, Engoulvent and Fofonov) while Ag2r, FDJ, Phonak, Fassa, Credit
Agricole and Quick.Step all have two riders.
13:35 CEST 35.5km/157km to go
It's all come back together now and a new attack goes with just four riders:
Santos Gonzalez, Juan Antonio Flecha, Christophe Edalaine and Jean Cyril Robin.
13:37 CEST 37km/155.5km to go
Scanlon and Commesso try to get across to the leaders, but fail in the strong
wind. The gap is 12 seconds.
13:41 CEST 39km/153.5km to go
JP Nazon's bike
Another of the riders injured yesterday when he crashed on the descent of the
Portet d'Aspet (the non-Casartelli side) was Jean-Patrick Nazon (Ag2r-Prevoyance),
who has the job of team sprinter after Kirsipuu abandoned before the mountains.
Nazon's fork snapped in the crash, as you can see from this pic.
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
Gap is now 25 seconds between Gonzalez, Flecha, Edalaine and Robin and the peloton.
13:47 CEST 44km/148.5km to go
This is a rather enterprising move by Flecha, Gonzalez, Edalaine and Robin.
They've managed to increase their lead up to 55 seconds as the peloton eases
off the throttle a bit. But with Quick.Step, Lotto-Domo and Credit Agricole
not represented, we can probably expect a concerted chase a bit later on.
Of the four, Santos Gonzalez is the best placed on GC, lying in 33rd at 27'04.
13:52 CEST 48km/144.5km to go
The gap is hovering between 50 seconds and a minute as the peloton hasn't quite
let up behind the leading four. It's been a very fast start on the wide roads,
considering a 30-40 km/h headwind: 44.6 km were covered in the first hour!
13:54 CEST 50km/142.5km to go
Rabobank is driving the peloton hard behind the break, and has brought the gap
back to 45 seconds. Rabobank really wanted to get in the moves today, which
explains their motivation.
13:56 CEST 51km/141.5km to go
The leading quartet are getting close to the first sprint at Capestang (km 53),
which is really of no interest to them as none are in contention for green.
Rabobank has brought the leaders back to 30 seconds just before the first sprint.
Ideally they will get close enough for one of them to jump across without bringing
anyone else. Easier said than done.
14:03 CEST 55km/137.5km to go
It's now down to 21 seconds, as the bunch rolls along led by the Rabo train.
At the back, Christian Vandevelde (Liberty) gives the injured Bobby Julich a
pat on the back and some encouragement.
The results of the sprint at Capestang: 1. Santos Gonzalez, 2. Jean-Cyril Robin,
and 3. Juan Antonio Flecha.
14:04 CEST 57km/135.5km to go
Exactly as predicted, when the gap comes down to 15 seconds, Erik Dekker (Rabobank)
attacks off the front in pursuit of the break. There is general panic behind
in the peloton as the chase stops.
14:05 CEST 58.5km/134km to go
Dekker gives it everything and has opened up a nice gap on the peloton. He can
see the four leaders in his sights and rides them down. There are now five leaders.
The leaders now: Santos Gonzalez (Phonak), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo),
Christophe Edaleine (Cofidis), Jean-Cyril Robin (Fdjeux.com) and Erik Dekker
Dekker takes a breather on the back of the break before rolling through.
14:09 CEST 60km/132.5km to go
A RAGT rider attacks the peloton in pursuit of the five man break, but he goes
nowhere. Moerenhout (Lotto) tries next. The gap is only 10 seconds.
There's a bit of a hold up (crash?) near the back of the peloton with Arvesen
and Julich involved.
14:11 CEST 62km/130.5km to go
The race is on the main road again, riding on the right hand side of a dual carriageway.
Bettini does a big turn on the front, with Cooke following. But they can't quite
close the gap to the five leaders.
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
Race leader Thomas Voeckler (Brioches) is well placed near the front, as is Armstrong
and the US Postal boys.
In the front of the race, Dekker comes through for a hard turn, followed by
Flecha. The five have opened it up to 20 seconds again as the peloton regroups,
chases, regroups, chases...
14:16 CEST 65.5km/127km to go
Quick.Step has missed the break, and Knaven, Mercado and Rogers start working
in front of the peloton, with Rabobank's Marc Wauters right behind them. The
wind is still against the riders. The five leaders are working perfectly, but
the peloton is bigger and uglier and doesn't seem to want this break to go.
14:19 CEST 67km/125.5km to go
The race passes through the city of Beziers and the break gives up the ghost.
Peloton together after 66 km. But not for long - Simeoni counters through the
streets of Beziers.
14:20 CEST 68km/124.5km to go
Simeoni gets Baden Cooke for company, and a eight others close the gap. The
peloton is strung out in pursuit, with many Posties on the front. Voeckler is
in the break! That's why...
14:22 CEST 70km/122.5km to go
Voeckler is ridden down by US Postal. Funny that. The Simeoni/Cooke/Hondo 10
man breakaway comes back to the fold. A Phonak rider counters, then Fofonov
counters the counter. Peloton looking quite thin now.
14:24 CEST 71km/121.5km to go
bobby Julich is sitting last wheel, trying to stay out of trouble.
Laurent Brochard (ag2r) attacks, but Jens Voigt (CSC) rides him down. Da Cruz
(FDJ) has a go next. It's on for young and old.
So much for Beziers. We're now back on the open road with Da Cruz powering away
on his own in front of the peloton, which is looking a tad ragged at the moment.
There is a very long line of riders sitting in the left hand gutter.
14:28 CEST 74.5km/118km to go
Da Cruz sits right back in the saddle, powering away, but he is caught. More
attacking, with Dekker and O'Grady getting up the front.
Bobby Julich is dropped, and is sitting just behind the peloton in the caravan
looking like he's in a lot of pain.
14:30 CEST 76km/116.5km to go
Fabio Baldato (Alessio-Bianchi) has punctured. Laurent Dufaux (Quick.Step) also.
They should be able to get back on using the caravan.
O'Grady, Da Cruz and Dekker are drying to get a break going. There's about 15
riders including Merckx, Commesso, Garcia Acosta... but folks don't wanna work.
14:33 CEST 78.5km/114km to go
O'Grady and Dekker drive the break, which also has Aldag, Tosatto, Dean, Sorensen,
Da Cruz, Hruska, Merckx, Commesso, Garcia Acosta and Auger in it. The gap is
14:35 CEST 80km/112.5km to go
The composition of the break: Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile Team), Matteo Tosatto (Fassa
Bortolo), Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole), Nicki Sørensen (Team CSC), José V.
Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), Jan Hruska (Liberty
Seguros), Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Carlos Dacruz (Fdjeux.com), Salvatore Commesso
(Saeco), Axel Merckx and Aart Vierhouten (Lotto-Domo), Guillaume Auger (R.A.G.T.).
Merckx is the best placed on GC in 27th at 20'13.
Quick.Step has missed it, and is chasing hard.
14:36 CEST 82km/110.5km to go
The break reaches the feed zone in Valros (km 81.5) and several riders grab
feed bags. The peloton is about 20 seconds behind with Knaven and Virenque on
Merckx looks very comfortable in the break, and O'Grady and Dekker look to be
the driving forces. Correction: Vierhouten is in the peloton, not the break.
14:39 CEST 85km/107.5km to go
There are thousands of fans out to cheer the riders as they pass through Valros.
Crash at the back - it's Nazon again, who's gone off into a ditch. He's ok,
and is on his bike again with teammate Nicolas Portal with him.
14:43 CEST 88km/104.5km to go
The 12 man breakaway is working a bit better now that they've got 20 seconds
lead. Many teams are represented, and Merckx isn't a huge threat on GC, so US
Postal and Brioches don't have to chase.
But Lotto-Domo (despite Merckx being in front) and Quick.Step are riding hard
in the peloton, which has split after the feed zone. 15 seconds.
Piil is having problems at the back, and is seen to by the race doctor.
The 12 man break is working very well, even Merckx, despite the fact that his
teammates are chasing behind him! A bit of a waste.
14:48 CEST 92.5km/100km to go
Portal and Nazon have clawed their way onto the back of the peloton, where Jakob
Piil is hanging out.
Jens Voigt (CSC) punctures. This is not CSC's day.
McEwen (Lotto-Domo) is near the front behind the three Quick.Step boys, but
pulls off when he sees US Postal right behind him, signaling them to come through.
Lotto-Domo seems to be playing the Merckx card then.
The second hour was raced at 46.5 km/h (with a 35 km/h headwind).
14:50 CEST 93km/99.5km to go
The race passes through the thriving metropolis of Pezenas.
Iban Mayo is off the back in a small group. This could be another bad day for
Knaven continues to drive the peloton in pursuit of the 12 man break, which
has just imploded. Da Cruz goes alone with Merckx and Auger in tow.
Knaven drives so hard with Moerenhout on his wheel that they ride away from
14:54 CEST 96km/96.5km to go
Voigt is on his way back to the peloton after his puncture, carrying about 10
bidons for his teammates.
The peloton has suddenly eased off with US Postal in front. Merckx, Da Cruz
and Auger are still away. Sorensen and O'Grady are there too - interesting.
We're now halfway, and it's been flat out racing from the gun.
14:56 CEST 98km/94.5km to go
Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) has dropped back and is getting seen to by the doctor,
who gives him some cream for a saddle sore problem. Eisel unzips his jersey
and (we don't need to explain further).
More riders are bridging up to the O'Grady group. Fedrigo and Nardello are there,
as are a Fassa Bortolo rider and possibly Allan Davis (Liberty). A couple more
14:58 CEST 100km/92.5km to go
There is no cooperation in front as Merckx looks behind for the peloton. He
drives hard on a climb and Nardello goes with him. But then the rest of the
group catch up. Flecha, Rogers and Davis are there too.
The break grows to about 15 riders but there is zero cooperation. Nicolas Jalabert
(Phonak) is in the front group, and sets off alone. US Postal has closed the
gap to everyone else.
One leader: Nicolas Jalabert.
15:02 CEST 101km/91.5km to go
The back of the peloton is strung out on the left hand side of the road, suffering
in the wind. A RAGT rider lets a gap open and a Euskaltel has to close it. Servais
Knaven is well back in the field now.
Jalabert is being chased by Botero, Igor Gonzalez and a Euskaltel rider.
Knaven, Casper and Finot are dropped from the peloton.
15:04 CEST 102km/90.5km to go
The leaders: Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak), Santiago Botero (T-Mobile), Iñigo Landaluze
(Euskaltel) and Igor Gonzalez (Liberty) are being chased by a group of six riders
at 5 seconds, with the peloton another 10 seconds back, led by Postal.
15:06 CEST 104km/88.5km to go
The leaders are together, and we have: Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak), Santiago Botero
(T-Mobile), Iñigo Landaluze and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Igor Gonzalez (Liberty),
Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa), Pierrick Fedrigo (CA), Marc Lotz (Rabobank), Peter Wrolich
(Gerolsteiner) and Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com). This might be it...
The road curves downhill now and the leaders have 40 seconds. US Postal isn't
15:07 CEST 106km/86.5km to go
With Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano the best placed rider in the break in 46th at
42'40, the GC teams don't have to be concerned. Also there are no threats for
the green jersey, like O'Grady, up here, so this break could go to the end.
55 seconds now.
15:10 CEST 108km/84.5km to go
The pace slows in the peloton and it's that time of the day. After 107 km of
hard racing, many riders are feeling the pinch in their bladders.
US Postal has set a very moderate tempo in front, while the breakaway now has
1'30 and gaining.
15:14 CEST 111km/81.5km to go
Brioches la Boulangère have now got three men in front of the peloton, followed
by the US Postal train. The gap is 2'19 and with a solid group of 10 riders
up the road, the sprinters teams are going to have to ride very well to bring
them back. Especially as the break has been established relatively late in the
15:16 CEST 112km/80.5km to go
Armstrong is sitting in about 10th wheel behind the combined US Postal/Brioches
trains, then Voeckler in yellow and then Jan Ullrich, pedal ling about 20 rpm.
Why? Because he can.
15:21 CEST 115.5km/77km to go
The break is now working pretty well, with all 10 men rolling through for their
turns. Euskaltel has two riders up here with Landaluze and Martinez, but there's
plenty of competition here for the stage win. Santi Botero, Aitor Gonzalez,
Peter Wrolich and Christophe Mengin (probably the best sprinters on paper)...
It looks like Oscar Sevilla (Phonak) is getting some bandaging on his wrist
from the race doctor.
3'10 with 77 km to go.
Despite this being a flat stage, the crowds are still enormous, waiting all
day for their 3 minutes of live race action.
But the Tour is much more than that - the moment when the riders come through
is merely the climax to several hours of getting sunburned, drinking various
quantities of alcohol, having a picnic, begging for a free sample of Cochonou
salami, a Cofidis keyring, and maybe a sample pack of sunscreen.
15:29 CEST 122km/70.5km to go
The gap to the 10 leaders continue to balloon as Brioches la Boulangère's three
men ride a steady tempo at the front of the peloton. Anthony Charteau is once
again the main worker for the baker boys.
It's now 5'16 with 70 km to go.
15:33 CEST 124km/68.5km to go
We're very much in vineyard country today, as the race travels along near the
coast of the Mediterranean.
It looks very much like that the 10 leaders will go all the way to the finish
and the bunch will be sprinting for 11th. Quick.Step and Lotto-Domo haven't
showed themselves in front of the peloton, and it's just Brioches riding very
steadily protecting Voeckler in yellow.
Iban Mayo managed to return to the peloton a while back, but it's clear he's
still not 100 percent.
15:40 CEST 130km/62.5km to go
With 63 km to go, the leading group has over 7 minutes lead on the peloton,
which has absolutely no interest in chasing. Brioches is riding a training tempo
on the front, and even the cyclotourists on the bike path next to the road are
keeping up. Voeckler doesn't mind at all.
Leaders: Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak), Santiago Botero (T-Mobile), Iñigo Landaluze
and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty), Aitor Gonzalez
(Fassa), Pierrick Fedrigo (CA), Marc Lotz (Rabobank), Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner,
Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com).
15:46 CEST 134km/58.5km to go
It's now up to 8'31 as the pace increases again in the peloton, more to control
the situation rather than chase the break down.
15:49 CEST 136km/56.5km to go
Andreas Klöden is at the rear of the peloton. The fourth placed rider on GC
is looking for his team car and a few water bottles. After yesterday's tough
Pyrenean stage, Klöden commented to L'Equipe, "It was another great day
even if I wasn't able to follow Armstrong all the way to the end. I preferred
to climb at my own rhythm. Earlier, Jan had given me carte blanche to do my
best to stay with Armstrong for as long as possible. I'm still convinced that
Jan is going to come back very strong in the Alps."
9 minutes, as the break passes through the outskirts of Montpellier.
15:51 CEST 138km/54.5km to go
In the peloton, Marcus Ljungqvist (Alessio-Bianchi) has crashed, but it's not
serious, just a bit of skin off his hand.
The Brioches yellow jersey parade continues, and Voeckler is getting a lot of
cheers from the side of the road.
15:53 CEST 140km/52.5km to go
In the break, Landaluze looks to be one of the strongest, which will help his
teammate Egoi Martinez if they are to plan a 1-2 offensive. With such a huge
lead, the breakaway will likely start attacking each other from a long way out.
15:58 CEST 143km/49.5km to go
Marc Lotz (Rabobank) comes through for his turn, followed by Aitor Gonzalez
and then Fedrigo. The break's pace is still solid while the peloton is travelling
a little more slowly. The gap is now 10'12 and perhaps stabilising, as the five
Brioches la Boulangère riders keep control of the bunch.
16:03 CEST 147km/45.5km to go
The time gap is rapidly becoming irrelevant as there are no classement riders
in the breakaway. Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) is the best placed of the 10 leaders
in 43rd at 37'39. But for the record, the differential is now 10'40.
In the break, Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak) drops back to his team car for a water
bottle or three.
16:08 CEST 149km/43.5km to go
We now have seven Brioches riders on the front of the bunch with Voeckler in
eighth wheel. Sylvain Chavanel is one of them, having ridden impressively yesterday
to finish 17th at 6'34 behind Armstrong.
Chavanel was quoted in L'Equipe as saying, "I did my little escape. That
was planned so our team wouldn't have to ride. Since Rasmussen was with us in
the break, I didn't have any illusions of winning. But, of the three I was with
during the day, it was I who finished first. Once I was caught, I tried to set
the pace for Thomas on the climb of Plateau de Beille. At 4 km to go, I couldn't
follow any more. Last night I was completely wiped out."
11 minutes with 42 clicks to go as the break rides through Castries.
16:10 CEST 150.5km/42km to go
Besides vineyards, today's stage is remarkable for the medieval architecture
in all of the towns that the race passes through. And the crowds of people.
Where did they all come from? Don't they have homes to go to? It's a great day
for the beach.
16:13 CEST 153km/39.5km to go
A run down of the eight remaining Brioches la Boulangère team members, who are
doing the job du jour of keeping Voeckler out of the wind and letting a non-threatening
break get as much time as they want.
Besides Voeckler, there is road captain Didier Rous, Frank Renier, Walter Beneteau,
Anthony Charteau, Laurent Lefevre, Jerome Pineau and Sylvain Chavanel.
16:17 CEST 156km/36.5km to go
Christophe Moreau drops back to his team car for a bidon. He takes three, then
asks his director for a coke. He obliges, and Christophe toasts him with the
small can. Then makes his way back to the bunch with three bidons stuck in his
JP Nazon, who crashed earlier today at the feed zone, has a scraped right shoulder
but he's still in the race.
Almost 12'00 now with 36 km remaining.
16:20 CEST 158km/34.5km to go
The break is looking slightly more disorganised as each rider starts thinking
about their own chances to win today. Aitor Gonzalez, Santi Botero, Igor Gonzalez
de Galdeano would all be looking for a solo TT opportunity, while sprinters
like Wrolich, Mengin and Lotz might want to keep the group a bit bigger. Then
there's the two Euskaltel riders Egoi Martinez and Iñigo Landaluze, who will
certainly cook up a cunning plan if they can. Finally Fedrigo and Jalabert will
try to get themselves into the winning break if they can.
16:24 CEST 160km/32.5km to go
The second sprint of the day is coming up in 6 km at Villevielle, but will have
no consequence for the breakaways, who are all eyeing each other off now as
we get close to 30 km to go.
It's a fairly hot day today too down on the Mediterranean coast, with temps
up to 30 degrees celsius.
Peloton: All Brioches, all the time. 12'15.
16:28 CEST 164km/28.5km to go
The break takes a right hander at a roundabout as it heads towards the sprint
in Villevielle, conveniently located on a small climb.
Billions of spectators cheer them on through the narrow streets.
16:31 CEST 166km/26.5km to go
The road gets steeper and this would be an ideal place for an attack. Landaluze
leads the break with Fedrigo and Lotz in tow. Under the sprint banner, it's
Wrolich who takes the points uncontested from Mengin and Fedrigo.
16:34 CEST 167.5km/25km to go
Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel) signals for some water and gets a bottle of Aquarel
from the motorbike. Nicolas Jalabert tries to grab a bidon from the side of
the road but misses. Doh!
25 km to go and the gap is still growing: 12'41. That will put Martinez in virtual
30th on GC, so it's not a big concern for the Brioches riders on the front of
16:36 CEST 170km/22.5km to go
Santi Botero chats to the T-Mobile team car, getting instructions from one of
his directors. He's back in the break now and straightaway goes through for
his turn. Marc Lotz adjusts his shoe straps...
16:39 CEST 171.5km/21km to go
The leaders aren't really working overtime, but still the gap is growing to
the peloton. It's 13'15 with 22 km to go. Brioches la Boulangère are enjoying
the fact that they don't have to kill themselves to bring these riders back.
The peloton passes a roundabout dedicated to Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r), who is
17th on GC.
16:40 CEST 172.5km/20km to go
The break goes under the blue 20 km to go banner, led by Nicolas Jalabert. Still
no sign of any aggression in the break.
16:44 CEST 175km/17.5km to go
A question from Lucky Rossow, who asks how do the riders in the break get water
bottles? Well normally there are a couple of team cars in the race, so one will
go up to the break and the other will sit behind the peloton. The way it works
is that the cars also "do turns" behind the break, unless a particular rider
calls for his team car. Then the traffic marshal signals for it to come through.
You don't see this on TV, but you do on a motorbike.
Also, there's a neutral motorbike with bottles of water that riders can access.
16:46 CEST 177.5km/15km to go
The peloton is now riding up the hill where the second sprint is located, which
means that it is 10 km behind the break.
16:48 CEST 178km/14.5km to go
There's still not much movement in the break as it goes under 15 km to go. All
10 riders are still rolling around, so probably no-one is feeling super strong.
16:52 CEST 181km/11.5km to go
The leaders now have 11 km to go and the cooperation is still very good. They
scare a couple of horses in a paddock next to the road. Now cow sightings today
16:53 CEST 182.5km/10km to go
The 10 man break reaches 10 km to go, still working smoothly. The road goes
slightly uphill here, so it may be a good place for an attack. No-one looks
interested at the moment.
16:54 CEST 183.5km/9km to go
Aha! Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano makes the first move. He is chased by the rest
o the break. He is annoyed that a Euskaltel rider has led the chase.
Now Aitor Gonzalez counters. The other Euskaltel gets on his wheel. It's still
Fedrigo goes next with Egoi Martinez in tow. The gap is slightly bigger as JaJa
16:56 CEST 185km/7.5km to go
Landaluze, Botero and Aitor Gonzalez are chasing off the back. The other seven
have come back together. Now Igor goes again just as Landaluze almost gets on
It goes nowhere. Aitor makes the next attack!
16:57 CEST 186km/6.5km to go
Mengin chases down Aitor, but it takes a while. The rest are right on Mengin's
wheel. Mengin eases up a bit. The gap is about 20m. Then Lotz comes off Mengin's
wheel and tries to close the gap. But no. Aitor is going well.
16:58 CEST 187.5km/5km to go
The break starts looking at each other and Aitor has 100m. He's not looking
back much and is driving as hard as he can. He's a past winner of the Vuelta
and is a formidable time trialist.
Fedrigo counters behind Aitor, who has 8 seconds.
17:00 CEST 188.5km/4km to go
Gonzalez goes under 5 km to go and has 15 seconds lead. No-one wants to chase
the powerful Basque, even the other powerful Basques in Euskaltel.
Gonzalez navigates a few roundabouts and extends his lead. Could this be win
number three for the Petacchi-less Fassa Bortolo squad?
17:01 CEST 189km/3.5km to go
Igor attacks in pursuit of Aitor, but Fedrigo closes the gap. Aitor has 20 seconds.
They're racing for second.
17:02 CEST 190km/2.5km to go
Aitor is riding at a beautiful tempo, hands on the hoods, flying along with
just over 2 km to go.
Fedrigo attacks in pursuit.
17:03 CEST 191km/1.5km to go
Aitor hits a small climb as Mengin and Jalabert attack in pursuit. But Aitor
is now at the bottom of the descent. Less than 2 km to go. It's 15 seconds.
Mengin and Jalabert are now clear in pursuit of Aitor Gonzalez, but Jalabert
is not as strong as Mengin. He does a turn with 1.5 km to go.
17:04 CEST 191.5km/1km to go
Aitor is now under the last kilometre and is really motoring. Another stage
win for the boys in blue and white!
17:05 CEST 192.5km/0km to go
Aitor Gonzalez sprints down the final straight in Nimes which is lined by thousands
and thousands of people. He wins the stage with a sizeable advantage over the
Jalabert leads out the sprint for second and takes it from Mengin. Fedrigo fourth
then Wrolich, Lotz, Igor, Botero and the two Euskaltel boys Landaluze and Martinez
in that order.
The peloton is strung out now as it heads to the finish about 14 minutes behind
the break. Lotto-Domo, CSC, Alessio, US Postal are all near the front. There's
still a few green jersey points up for grabs so McEwen will be trying to get
a few more, as will Zabel, Hushovd and O'Grady.
Marichal drives the bunch with Noè on his wheel between kilometre 5 and kilometre
3. Then Noè takes over but not for long as Vansevenant goes right past the Alessio
Vansevenant leads up the hill towards the 2km to go banner, but Christophe Moreau
takes over with Dean and Hushovd in tow. A bit early. They drop back a bit and
a Cofidis rider takes over. Vierhouten is right behind and then comes through.
McEwen is right on O'Grady's wheel, next to Zabel. 1 km to go.
Vierhouten winds it up onto the Avenue Jean Jaures and sprints to 700m. Then
Engoulvent leads with O'Grady on his wheel. O'Grady loses position and then
Zabel goes very early. McEwen, Hushovd go head to head to the line and it's
McEwen who gets 11th by centimetres and increases his lead in the green. Hushovd
and Hondo were right up there for 12th and 13th.
No changes in the GC, and Voeckler gets to keep his nice yellow jersey for tomorrow's
rest day and Tuesday's 15th stage, which will be another challenge for him to
fend off Armstrong. But by the Alpe d'Huez TT on Wednesday, Voeckler will almost
certainly be out of the hot seat, having ridden an excellent race.
1 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 4.18.32
2 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems 0.25
3 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Fdjeux.com
4 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Crédit Agricole 0.29
5 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 0.31
6 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank
7 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) Liberty Seguros
8 Santiago Botero (Col) T-Mobile Team 0.37
9 Iñigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0.41
10 Egoi Martínez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0.43
11 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 14.12
12 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
13 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner
14 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Crédit Par Téléphone
15 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team
General classification after stage 14
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 62.33.11
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 0.22
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 1.39
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 3.18
5 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto 3.28
6 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 6.08
7 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 6.43
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 7.01
9 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 7.59
10 Sandy Casar (Fra) Fdjeux.com 8.29
the commentary team