91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004
& Results Stage
Live Report Results
Stage 17 - Thursday July 22: Bourg d'Oisans - Le Grand Bornand, 204.5 km
Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 11:00 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:06 CEST
With a tighter vise grip than ever on the 2004 Tour de France, maillot jaune
Lance Armstrong and his USPS-Berry Floor team will try to keep the lid on things
on what is perhaps the most difficult stage on this year's Tour. With five categorized
climbs on the program, including the Cat. 1 Glandon and HC Madeleine in the
first 80km, then a Cat. 2 ascent of the Col de Tamie, the steep Cat. 1 Col de
la Forclaz and a final ascent of the Cat. 1 Col de la Croix Fry before the 15
km descent to Le Grande-Bornand, Stage 17 is the last major mountain test of
the Tour. Look for Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden and T-Mobile to attack to try
to take back time on Basso and CSC and solidify their lead in the team GC.
They're rolling in Stage 17, with a short 1.1 km neutral section out of Bourg
d'Oisans before the race proper starts. Thomas Voeckler (in white), Richard
Virenque (in dots) and Robbie McEwen (in green) are at the front of the peloton.
O'Grady's up there too, chatting to McEwen.
The weather is perfect: blue skies and warm, sunny conditions with not too much
The flag is dropped at kilometre zero by Jean Marie Leblanc, and they're racing
in stage 17.
The big news today is that Roberto Heras didn't start. The Liberty Seguros captain
has not exactly been in scintillating form of late and opted not to start today's
tough Alpine finale.
11:06 CEST 2km/202.5km to go
The first intermediate sprint today is at kilometre 9 at Allemont before the climbs
start. There's also one in Thones at km 177.
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
The attacks have started with Simeoni (Domina) making the first move, together
Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio-Bianchi) and Laurent Lefevre (Brioches) didn't
11:09 CEST 5km/199.5km to go
Simeoni and Bartoli are joined by Simoni, Martin and Aldag, and the five have
about 20 seconds lead on the peloton led by US Postal.
11:13 CEST 6km/198.5km to go
Astarloza and a Rabobank rider set off in pursuit of the lead group, which has
Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile Team), Michele Bartoli (Team CSC), Gilberto Simoni (Saeco),
Filippo Simeoni (Domina Vacanze) and Ludovic Martin (R.A.G.T. Semences - MG
Rover) in it. They now have 38 seconds.
Simoni is the best placed in the break, sitting in 12th overall at 15'41.
3 km to go to the first sprint, and the peloton is very strung out. Another
Ag2r rider accelerates off the front of the Blue Train led peloton.
11:15 CEST 10km/194.5km to go
Astarloza is the Ag2r rider, but it's his second attempt at pursuing the leaders.
The five reach the first sprint with a 45 second advantage over the peloton.
Aldag takes the points ahead of Martin and Simoni.
Janek Tombak is dropping back to see the race doctor after slicing his fingers
in the spokes of his front wheel while trying to adjust his sensor. Ow.
11:16 CEST 11km/193.5km to go
Astarloza comes through the sprint about 35 seconds behind the leaders, with
Pavel Padrnos driving the peloton another 10 seconds back.
Tombak has abandoned.
11:23 CEST 14km/190.5km to go
The peloton rides past La Barrage de Verney about 1'50 behind the leading five.
Astarloza is still in no-man's land at 54 seconds. He's really missed his chance.
The leaders hit the base of the Glandon, a 22 km Cat. 1 climb averaging 5.2%.
There are a couple of downhill sections in this climb, but it's a really long
Hushovd has to stop for a mechanical (or other) problem, but is back on the
Botero has mechanical problems and has to stop for attention. He's now on his
way again after a 40 second stop.
Astarloza is 1'30 behind the leaders, and going nowhere. The peloton is at 2'59.
Hushovd is being dropped by the peloton again but is back on, just.
11:39 CEST 19km/185.5km to go
A sprinters autobus is forming already on the Glandon, as a few RAGT riders
(Laurent and Rinero), Jimmy Casper, Thor Hushovd, Matt Wilson and JP Nazon are
The five leaders have 1'40 on Astarloza and 3'42 on the peloton. It's a warm
day, and everyone is already sweating a lot.
11:42 CEST 21km/183.5km to go
Engoulvent (Cofidis) is also being dropped on the Glandon, really suffering
in the heat.
The leaders have reached the first flat spot on the climb, which also contains
a bit of a descent. A welcome relief, for sure. The next 9 km are all uphill
as they ride up the long valley.
11:46 CEST 23km/181.5km to go
The leaders finish the short descent and are straight away hit with a 9 percent
wall as the Glandon continues relentlessly. The group: Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile
Team), Michele Bartoli (Team CSC), Gilberto Simoni (Saeco), Filippo Simeoni
(Domina Vacanze), Ludovic Martin (R.A.G.T.).
Simoni is the best placed on GC, and has an excellent chance of winning the
stage if this break goes all the way. A long way to go though. The gap is still
3'50. Astarloza is still at 1'40.
11:48 CEST 24km/180.5km to go
Bettini punctures his front wheel and gets a quick change, although the team
car does it in front of Bettini.
The peloton is now on the mini-descent, which switchbacks its way down the mountain.
Bettini is almost on the back again.
11:51 CEST 25km/179.5km to go
David Etxebarria punctures, gets a back wheel and is pushed off by team director
Julian Gorospe. Nasty way to get going again as he has to tackle a nine percent
slope. He quickly passes Hushovd, who's about 20 seconds off the back of the
4'25 to the leading five with Postal setting tempo.
11:55 CEST 26km/178.5km to go
Etxebarria passes the US Postal car, which had been relegated to the back of
the peloton today after a "dangerous driving manoeuvre" yesterday. The race
jury ruled that Bruyneel hindered a TV cameraman and penalised him. However,
Bruyneel argued that there was a prior agreement with Jean-Marie Leblanc that
his car could follow right behind Armstrong until the barriers started yesterday
and has obviously won his case.
"It was dangerous and we were concerned about that," Bruyneel told Cyclingnews
today. "That's why we have taken these precautions. At least until the barriers
to have me directly on Lance's wheel. If the importance of having images on
TV or photographers is more important to the president of the jury than the
security of the riders, then I don't understand it any more."
Etxebarria is now back in the peloton.
12:10 CEST 29km/175.5km to go
The US Postal tempo is not exactly the destructive force that it can be, but
there is still a steady trickle of riders off the back of the bunch as they
come up towards the tree line. Although Simoni, the best placed rider in the
break, is unlikely to make up his 15.41 deficit on Armstrong, they still need
to keep his lead in control.
The race is above the treeline now and riding in brilliant sunshine along the
corniche over the Grand-Maison reservoir. With the relatively sparse crowds
(well, compared to yesterday) the Alpine scenery is at its best here.
12:19 CEST 35km/169.5km to go
Andrea Peron is another puncture victim on part of the course under cliffs;
probably a lot of grit on the road. The leaders are now out into the Alpine
pastures close to the summit, where the gradients are easier. We're looking
out for marmots and cows, of course.
Astarloza is still out there, piggy in the middle, not making any ground on
the leaders though.
12:25 CEST 36km/168.5km to go
The five leaders swing off the main road (which goes on up to the Col du Croix
de Fer) and up the last little pitch to the summit of the Glandon, with Simoni
first over the top, and on to the long and initially very steep descent.
Astarloza comes over about 2.50 down; I imagine he will take it easy on the
descent and be mopped up by the bunch.
12:28 CEST 39km/165.5km to go
Bettini leads out Virenque for the last few points on the summit, and manages
to cut Moreau out of them by taking 8th himself.
Astarloza crashes on the descent; he's back up again though.
12:42 CEST 55km/149.5km to go
Christophe Moreau has a little dig on the descent. Richard Virenque goes with
him, but doesn't seem inclined to work with him. They have a bit of a chat about
Daniele Nardello punctures but is away quickly.
The leading quintet are still edging away, Simoni setting the pace.
On the lower slopes of the descent Stefano Zanini, back among the cars, nearly
takes off into the woods on a corner, but thankfully just manages to hold on.
Virenque and Moreau are still out there.
12:54 CEST 59km/145.5km to go
For the five leaders the road is starting to rise again as they set out on the
Col de la Madeleine, 19.5 km averaging 7.8% to the highest point that the Tour
reaches, 2000 m asl. Simoni is clearly the most active at the front of the group.
12:56 CEST 62km/142.5km to go
Virenque, now taking the lead, and Moreau have now caught Astarloza, who tags
on. He's got his jersey a bit grubby but otherwise looks OK.
The three chasers are now closing a bit on the breakaway, while the bunch -
with US Postal prominent on the front but not obviously forcing the pace.
In the absence of any real wildlife, we have a spectator in a rabbit suit, who
is clearly suffering from the heat - it's in the mid 30s celsius in the valleys
today. The things people do for fame.
Virenque and Moreau have dropped Astarloza. The race is currently a few minutes
ahead of its fastest schedule, to put the relatively steady chase into perspective.
Erik Dekker is again dropped from the bunch but there will be riders behind
him, again a stream of non-climbers starts to come of the back.
Simoni has now overtaken Ullrich in the "virtual GC", up to fourth overall,
so T-Mobile and CSC will probably start helping the chase if the lead grows
13:08 CEST 65km/139.5km to go
Among those going off the back and into a forming gruppetto/autobus/laughing
group are former mountains winner Christophe Rinero and Michael Boogerd as well
as more predictable figures like Robbie McEwen and lanterne rouge Sébastien
Simoni is still setting the pace for the leaders most of the time. Lot of flapping
open jerseys and exposed heart monitor belts today.
13:16 CEST 66km/138.5km to go
13 km from the summit of the Madeleine (with its special prime, the Souvenir
Henri Desgranges) the five leaders are still together. Moreau and Virenque now
seem committed to crossing the gap and are closing in; at the present rate it
looks as though they should get up there before the top of the climb, although
it does flatten out a bit at the top.
13:19 CEST 68km/136.5km to go
The US Postal bloc, with Padrnos at the front looks to have stepped up a gear;
the bunch is now down to 60 or so riders and the gap to the leaders has come
down a bit more.
13:23 CEST 69km/135.5km to go
Ludovic Martin (RAGT) who did a pretty good rider in yesterday's time trial,
takes a long pull on the front of the break. Moreau and Virenque are working
together well and coming back fast to them now.
13:32 CEST 72km/132.5km to go
Aldag and Bartoli look to be just hanging on in the break, certainly not doing
anything at the front; Martin, Simoni and Simeoni seem to be the drivers on
the climb. However, they won't be in too much of a hurry to drop the two rouleurs
who will be useful on the flatter section that follows the Madeleine.
Astarloza is being caught by the bunch now.
13:38 CEST 73.5km/131km to go
Nonetheless, Bartoli is dropped by the leading group; if he can get his wind
he might be able to hang onto Virenque and Moreau when they catch him, which
won't take long, but it will be a big ask because they are moving a whole chunk
faster than the leaders.
13:43 CEST 77km/127.5km to go
Simoni is setting the pace again out in the open Alpine meadows, with his helmet
unstrapped (probably pick up a fine for that). Moreau and Virenque are coming
up fast though - they catch Bartoli and sweep straight past him.
Mikel Astarloza drops off the bunch to his team car and gets his handlebars
retaped on the move. Don't try that at home.
Virenque is rocking and rolling with the effort now, while Moreau looks a bit
smoother. They have the leaders in sight, and that opens the door to a sprint
royale for the €5000 prize at the summit.
Virenque drops Moreau.
13:52 CEST 79km/125.5km to go
Simoni is looking over his shoulder as they come up towards the summit and Virenque
is across to them, and moves straight up to take the Italian's wheel.
Virenque leads out a long sprint, but just for once he has found someone else
who can sprint on a climb, and Simoni takes the honours.
The Armstrong group, now down to 40 or so riders, is still being led by the
blue train up the upper slopes. Maillot blanc Thomas Voeckler is just about
hanging in there at the back. The leading group was broken up under the impact
of the sprint for the summit, but looks to be coming back together as one might
Paolo Bettini leads the bunch over the summit 6.45 down to mop up some of the
remaining points and preserve Virenque's almost-safe-now spotty vest, ahead
of Michael Rasmussen.
Moreau takes the lead on the descent and opens a bit of a gap. The posties are
taking it a bit steadier on the descent and the gap to the break as a whole
is increasing a bit.
The six leaders are back together now as they come onto shallower slopes.
14:16 CEST 100km/104.5km to go
The bunch are descending with the whole US Postal team at the front, Armstrong
sixth in line.
In front, Virenque loses his chain and puts it back on on the move. He and Moreau
both corner with their knees out, motorbike style.
Bartoli is caught by the bunch.
14:32 CEST 111km/93.5km to go
The leaders are down in the Isere valley now and working fairly smoothly together,
still pulling away from the bunch gradually. That bunch is still being led by
US Postal, although there are some CSC vests up there as well now, the first
sign that the podium-place riders are a bit concerned about Simoni's position.
In fact CSC have now taken over at the front as I write.
14:38 CEST 115km/89.5km to go
The leaders pass through the feed at Tours-en-Savoie. The Val d'Isere is supposedly
the hottest place on the course today; it's certainly sweltering. US Postal
and CSC have the bunch lined out on the main valley road, so although it has
grown on the descent proper, not many dropped riders will be coming back up
from here on in.
14:45 CEST 120km/84.5km to go
Michele Bartoli is reported as having retired. Another one bites the dust. Meanwhile,
his team-mates and the posties have started pulling the break that he was once
in back again, with the gap down below 7 minutes again.
Astarloza makes a further bid for the day's unluckiest rider prize (there used
to be one, there isn't any more, before you ask), as he punctures.
To six minutes, indeed.
14:54 CEST 125km/79.5km to go
A long flat road with nothing much happening here. The break are riding steadily
rather than tearing it up, and the bunch are coming back fast.
Ah, that's more like it. The leaders set out on the climb of the second category
Col de Tamie, a relatively 8.7 km at 6.6%.
Simoni has his helmet unstrapped again. Virenque, Moreau and Simoni are setting
the pace on the climb, and it's too much for Simeoni quite early on in the climb.
Martin too looks to be finding it hard.
Martin waves the leaders goodbye. Aldag looks like he might manage it, but it
will be touch and go.
Jens Voigt puts in a strong pull on the front of the bunch that turns into a
solo attack, as the massed US Postals decline to follow him.
Big Rolf Aldag is still hanging in there up the road.
Iker Flores jumps cross to Voigt.
Flores goes straight past Voigt, but they don't seem to be making any big impression
on the bunch; Voigt is caught again.
Virenque leads Moreau, Simoni and Aldag over the Col de Tamie. A few kilometres
of descent now and then it's the steep Forclaz.
Flores has caught and passed Simeoni and Martin now.
Simeoni is caught by the bunch, as Flores crosses the summit in fifth place,
4 minutes behind the leaders - a big ask to get across.
15:27 CEST 143.5km/61km to go
All US Postal at the front of the bunch again on the descent, chasing without
any great conviction. Flores is not making much ground on the descent, but if
he starts on the climb of the Forclaz ahead, he may be more in his element.
15:37 CEST 149km/55.5km to go
Flores has got together with Ludovic Martin, but they are still in sight of
the bunch on a long stretch of valley road.
The four leaders are now on the foot of the Forclaz - 8 km at a stiff 8%, and
Aldag is in trouble straight away. Then Moreau can't hold the pace set by Simoni
for a moment, but comes back
Flores likewise drops Martin and sets out in pursuit alone.
US Postal settle down to their normal climbing tempo, and a few riders start
going off the back already. Then T-Mobile move up with them, and Ivanov goes
off the front. The yellow jersey group is now down to a dozen or so riders.
Ivanov is caught again.
Voigt, Ivanov, Botcharov, Rogers and Brochard are among those being dropped
from the US Postal led group.
Hincapie is setting the pace for the yellow jersey group, with Landis and Azevedo
still ready for action. Thomas Voeckler is still in there, marking Vladimir
Karpets, his main opponent for the white jersey. Ullrich and Klöden are on Armstrong's
shoulders - looks like they're about to try something...
For those who have been enquiring about the whereabouts of the devil, we've
just passed him.
15:49 CEST 154km/50.5km to go
Virenque, Simoni and Moreau are up to the treeline now, riding more or less
side by side.
15:56 CEST 155.5km/49km to go
Flores is making no impression on the leaders still.
Rubiera is also still in the group with Armstrong. No move from the T-Mobile
or CSC camps yet. Voeckler is starting to lose contact with them.
The three leaders hit the little dip before the Forclaz summit; the last couple
of kilometres are a stiff 9.5%, though.
Flores is being caught now.
16:03 CEST 157.5km/47km to go
The three leaders crest the summit of the Forclaz, Virenque, Moreau and Simoni
in that order; with 20 km of descent and valley in front of them before the
final climb of the Croix-Fry; the lead doesn't look to be enough to stay clear
if the Postals keep up this pace.
Aldag comes over 2.12 down.
The leading trio are now down the precipitous descent to the Lac d'Annecy and
are now on a little rise to Bluffy. Rolf Aldag is caught by the Armstrong group
and spat directly out of the back, just as a few riders including Thomas Voeckler
make it back up to them. The chase has lost a bit of momentum, it appears.
Long straight valley roads take the race up to Thone, where there is a bonus
sprint of very little interest (other than pecuniary) to the three leaders who
will dispute it. This road favours the chasers, and US Postal have the bunch
lined out and the gap coming down.
16:28 CEST 177.5km/27km to go
The gap comes down under two minutes as the leaders enter Thone. Simoni leads
them through the sprint without a contest.
The final climb, the col de Croix-Fry is 11.5 km at 7.1% with the steepest sections
after 6 km (9.5 + 10.5 %). There's a flatter bit after 3 km with two km at 5
+ 2.5%. From the summit there are 13 km to go, practically all downhill.
Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo) has taken a flyer off the front of the Armstrong
group; he has got a quarter of a minute clear, but he will be hard pressed to
do anything much against the climbers in front and behind.
16:34 CEST 181km/23.5km to go
As the bunch reach the climb once more it is Iker Flores who attacks from the
yellow jersey group. Ahead, once again Simoni unbuckles his helmet and Virenque
unzips his jersey.
Flores's effort comes to nothing.
Sastre and Basso attack out of the yellow jersey group, but Floyd Landis closes
them down. The three leaders are less than a minute ahead now.
Riders who were in trouble earlier but got back to the Armstrong group are now
going off the back: Aldag, then Voeckler and Caucchioli among others. Karpets
is still in there so this could be decisive for the white jersey.
Sastre jumps clear, this time without Basso.
16:40 CEST 183.5km/21km to go
The yellow jersey group is now down to Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Klöden, Landis,
Azevedo, Totschnig, Karpets, Rasmussen, Leipheimer, Merckx.
Sastre bridges the gap to the three leaders.
Sastre goes straight through and only Virenque goes with him.
My colleague Jeff is still forecasting an Ullrich attack. Moreau and Simoni
are caught by the Armstrong group.
Sastre drops Virenque and opens a big gap quickly. Virenque only needs to get
to Paris upright now to take his seventh spotty jersey; he sits up.
All three of the former leaders are dropped by the yellow jersey group. Virenque
gets a word of acknowledgement from the race director as the cars go past.
Landis is setting the pace for Armstrong, with Azevedo in reserve. Sastre is
half a minute up the road.
Sastre is digging deep into his reserves, and his lead is starting to come down
In the group Klöden looks pretty comfortable, as maillot blanc contended Karpets
is dropped, and then Azevedo, Merckx and Rasmussen too.
Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, Klöden, and Leipheimer are massed on Floyd Landis's
back wheel; he brings them back up to Sastre.
Leipheimer is dropped.
16:56 CEST 188.5km/16km to go
Still Landis setting the pace. Sastre is hanging on, but looks shaky.
Sastre loses contact. It looks as though it's going to be a five man sprint.
17:02 CEST 191km/13.5km to go
The five leaders come up to the top of the climb, still the Landis show. Klöden
at the back gets slightly too much attention from a flag-wielding German fan,
and has to resort to a hand-off.
Armstrong give Landis a pat on the back as they crest the summit (and keeps
him in first place over the line).
Sastre is half a minute down, followed by a quintet with Leipheimer and Merckx
a big minute behind, then Karpets at 1.50
Landis is attacking on the descent...
Ullrich has got up to Landis, who eases up a bit. Armstrong is taking it slightly
more steadily, but isn't far behind.
The three are together now, easing up. The other two catch them, and then Klöden
17:07 CEST 196.5km/8km to go
Voeckler comes over the summit on the limit of the time he has to spare over
Vladimir Karpets; he might just be able to hang onto the white jersey.
Five all together at the front again.
Still all together. Armstrong is looking hungry here.
Armstrong and Landis take the opportunity for a quick word. The quintet are
all watching each other now.
17:12 CEST 201.5km/3km to go
Armstrong is now leading the group himself, leaving Landis sheltered.
17:13 CEST 202.5km/2km to go
The final kilometre of the race is a gentle climb, hard to call a winner here.
Still all together coming though he streets of Le Grand Bornand
Ullrich chases, Armstrong on his wheel. All together at the flamme rouge.
Klöden attacks and there's a gap. Landis leading the chase
Ullrich marks Landis, Armstrong on his wheel. Armstrong jumps back and just
pips Klöden on the line. He wanted it most.
Axel Merckx leads Leipheimer, Sastre, Totschnig and Azevedo in for 6th place.
Karpets comes over 1.59 down in 11th, just ahead of a group with Virenque.
Voeckler comes over in 4.49 with Simoni, Verbrugghe and Rogers; he will still
hang on to the white jersey today, but it will be hard for him not to lose the
remaining seconds he has in hand to Karpets in the final time trial.
Riders will be coming in for a while yet; the time limit today should be just
under 41 minutes so it may be tough for the riders who were dropped on the Glandon.
The consensus here is that Klöden has only himself to blame here, easing up
too early and looking over the wrong shoulder when Armstrong jumped on his blind
Thanks for following the day's action with us at Cyclingnews. We apologise for
the shortages of domesticated livestock on today's stage; this is largely a
result of the Common Agricultural Policy. Jeff will be back tomorrow for the
lumpy but probably not critical stage from Annemasse to Lons-le-Saunier - join
us at or around 1305 CEST.
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 6.11.52
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team
3 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 0.01
4 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC
5 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 0.13
6 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 1.01
7 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.02
9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner
11 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor
12 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears - Banesto 2.00
General classification after stage 17
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 74.04.56
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 4.09
3 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5.11
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 8.08
5 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 10.41
6 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto 11.45
7 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 12.56
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 15.14
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 16.25
10 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 16.33
the commentary team