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Dauphiné Libéré
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91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004

Main Page     Stages & Results     Stage Profile     Latest Live Report   Results

Stage 20 - Sunday July 25: Montreau - Paris-Champs-Elysees, 163 km

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

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 13:35 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:29 CEST

Mostly a formality, Stage 20 is an all-flat stage that has one final Cat. 4 KOM and a sprint halfway in Livry Gargan before entering Paris for the most famous criterium in the world, eight laps of the Champs-Elysees where maillot vert Robbie McEwen hopes to hold off the rest of the thundering herd for the biggest win of his career, but massive Viking Thor Hushovd could spoil the Queenslander's plans along the way.


km 86.5: Livry-Gargan (Souvenir Antonin Magne)
km 115.5: Haut des champs-Elysees

13:25 CEST   
The weather at the start in Montereau is good for the final stage. It's generally sunny with some high clouds with temperatures in the mid-20's. It's a little breezy with a tailwind for most of the stage before the riders get into Paris.

The stage starts with a 3.2 km neutral section at 13:20, with the start proper being given at 13:30.

13:33 CEST   
Lance's Livestrong Trek
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image
As the peloton rolls out of the neutral zone, race leader Lance Armstrong is up the front, surrounded by a gaggle of motorbikes with photographers eager to the shot of him signalling six victories. Lance is wearing a gold helmet with yellow stripes on his knicks and riding a specially painted "Livestrong" bike.

Livestrong is the charity that's been promoted by Lance this year. The yellow wrist bands that you see everyone wearing can be bought for €1 with proceeds going to the Lance Armstrong foundation to help fund cancer research.

Leblanc drops the flag at 13:32 and they're "racing" in the final stage, which will be a parade until the riders get to Paris.

13:34 CEST   
Oohlala. Filippo Simeoni has attacked from the gun!! Straight away, the peloton is lined out in pursuit. Lance is not going to be amused.

13:35 CEST    2km/161km to go
The peloton splits in the crosswind as it chases down Filippo Simeoni. This is really getting personal. Simeoni has about 10 seconds lead and is riding hard.

13:36 CEST   
There's about 20 riders in the front group with the rest of the peloton strung out in pursuit, about 5 seconds back. No doubt there'll be a lot of swearing. So much for the parade!!

13:40 CEST    4km/159km to go
Simeoni has 15 seconds lead as the peloton slows and regroups, with US Postal on the front. The Posties all have yellow bands on their sleeves.

Well Simeoni probably won't win too many friends by doing this, but he's certainly making his point.

13:42 CEST    6km/157km to go
Simeoni is being reeled in by the US Postal team time trial after having attacked from the gun. Interesting move. He'll probably be banished to the back after this.

13:45 CEST    9km/154km to go
Simeoni is caught by the bunch, point made. The pace slows again.

Phonak's Oscar Sevilla punctures and gets a quick change and is back in the caravan.

13:48 CEST    11km/152km to go
The Postal riders slow things up again after the early fireworks. Armstrong chats to Jens Voigt about the Simeoni incident, with Salvatore Commesso (who was one of the few to support Simeoni in stage 18) sitting next to them.

13:52 CEST    13km/150km to go
Order is restored, and the bunch can continue its leisurely cruise towards Paris. Armstrong's now talking to Guerini, Klöden and Ullrich. Pozzato and Rubiera are exchanging views of the matter. Simeoni is a few wheels behind Armstrong, chatting to a CSC rider.

13:56 CEST   
Robbie McEwen
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
Click for larger image
Jimmy Casper gets to the front of the peloton, takes his camera out and snaps a pic of the bunch. Maybe he's looking for a job doing this after he retires.

Commesso and Simeoni are chatting, as are McEwen and Davis. McEwen, in the green jersey, is a favourite to win this stage as he has done twice in his career. He has an 11 point lead in the green jersey classification and will have to have a terrible sprint to lose that to Hushovd. Anything's possible though.

14:02 CEST    17km/146km to go
Virenque and Voeckler are now off the front of the peloton, generally mucking around. Virenque is in his favourite spotty jersey while Voeckler is back in his French champion's red, white and blue.

For those of you asking, there is a difference between Virenque and Simeoni. Yes they have both admitted to taking drugs in the past (and Virenque was a little, er, reluctant to do so), but Simeoni is the only one suing Lance.

Commesso and Lance are now chatting, good naturedly.

14:04 CEST    18km/145km to go
Armstrong stops to adjust his Livestrong bike, taking great pains to get the saddle angle correct. It looks like it's more for show than anything else.

Meanwhile, the peloton rolls along in the sunshine towards Fontenailles.

14:06 CEST   
For those of you asking about the devil, yes he has been spotted a few times this year and we have mentioned him in dispatches.

Armstrong is being brought back to the bunch by Beltran. Simeoni should attack again.

14:10 CEST    21km/142km to go
With the GC still fairly tight between second and third, readers have asked whether Basso would try to have a crack at closing the 20 second gap to Klöden today. It's not completely out of the question, but it's unlikely. Klöden is going to be glued to Basso's wheel.

Armstrong is now drinking a spot of champagne at the back of the bunch after getting it from Jean Marie Leblanc's personal stash.

14:14 CEST    23km/140km to go
Ullrich is now drinking some champagne with Bruyneel. He drains the glass very quickly. This will be the first year that Ullrich hasn't finished 2nd or 1st in the Tour. 4th isn't bad, but Ullrich will no doubt be disappointed. He is happy that Klöden managed second.

14:18 CEST    24km/139km to go
Last year's final stage winner JP Nazon
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
Click for larger image
Last year's winner of this stage was Jean-Patrick Nazon, who's still very much in this race despite a couple of crashes. Nazon was looking good this morning in Montereau, and will certainly be up for another crack at the Champs Elysées.

It is a stage that can produce an unexpected result, even if it normally finishes in a bunch sprint. All of the sprinters will be tired after this last week, and we could see someone like Hondo or Nazon or even Cooke come to the fore.

Armstrong's now chatting with fellow Americans Leipheimer and Julich.

14:20 CEST    26km/137km to go
Beltran has now swapped helmets with photographer Graham Watson, and looks like a 1970's rider in his white motorbike helmet. He asks for his normal one back.

14:22 CEST   
The nine Posties (one of two complete teams, the other being Rabobank), are now all in a row at the front of the peloton with Lance in the middle. There's an American army jeep driving beside them in a field with French and US flags mounted. Watch out for the cows!

14:30 CEST    29km/134km to go
While there is absolutely nothing happening in the way of racing at the moment during this final stage, I would, on behalf of my co-commentators Roger Hughes, Chris Henry and Tim Maloney, like to take the opportunity to thank all of our readers for following Cyclingnews' live coverage during this Tour. Your messages of support and appreciation have been almost overwhelming, and have definitely helped us keep going through the dark times.

I'd also like to categorically deny that there was any alcohol consumed in the commentary box before or during the live coverages. If there was, trust us, you'd know. Things would get really silly...

14:31 CEST    31km/132km to go
The peloton rides past a bunch of fans perched atop of a combine harvester. Quelle rural scene.

Thomas Voeckler and Paolo Bettini are in deep discussion down the back. Voeckler has been awarded the Prix Orange by the press corps of the Tour, for being the most media friendly cyclist.

14:38 CEST    35km/128km to go
Floyd's "baddest mofo of the mountains" ring
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
Click for larger image
Speaking of prizes, Floyd Landis (USPS) has been awarded a special prize by comedian Robin Williams, who is a good friend of Lance Armstrong and the team. After his efforts in the mountains, and particularly stage 17, Williams nominated Landis the "baddest mofo of the mountains" and gave him a studly gold ring.

14:44 CEST    38km/125km to go
The pace has picked up a bit now, but only 38 km have been covered in the first 70 minutes.

14:49 CEST    41km/122km to go
Irishman Mark Scanlon has a big grin on his face as he chats to a teammate at the back of the bunch. Scanlon has ridden superbly in his first Tour and is one of the 147 riders who will make it to Paris today. He's even been in a few breaks too.

14:53 CEST    43.5km/119.5km to go
US Postal, with their special yellow striped jerseys on, are leading the bunch through La Foret de Crecy at a good clip now, around 40 km/h.

14:59 CEST    47km/116km to go
The peloton is travelling through the Foret de Crecy with Armstrong and Hincapie still on the front, riding two abreast. There are very few spectators here, as most people who want to see the Tour hang out on the Champs Elysées today.

15:03 CEST    49km/114km to go
Carlos Da Cruz offloads a water bottle and gets back in line in the peloton. In front it's still Armstrong and Hincapie setting a 35-40 km/h tempo, looking very relaxed. The feed zone is coming up very soon in Villeneuve le Comte (km 53.5).

15:10 CEST    52km/111km to go
This is a big forest and the road through it is flat and is as straight as a gun barrel. I vaguely recall riding up this way to see the final stage in '98, but my memory is pretty poor. It's not particularly bike friendly (single lane, no bike lane) unless you are cocooned in a caravan of support vehicles.

Armstrong leads the pack into the feed zone.

15:14 CEST    55km/108km to go
Bobby Julich
Photo ©: Chris Henry/CN
Click for larger image
Cyclingnews spoke to CSC's Bobby Julich before the start this afternoon in Montereau. Julich was at the Tour in support of Ivan Basso, but a crash in the Pyrenees put paid to his chances of helping his team leader a lot in the Alps. We asked Julich whether he was satisfied with his Tour:

"Personally, not really. It was frustrating having good legs but I just
kept crashing. That's part of the Tour, and it happens. It's difficult
to deal with. As a team I think we accomplished some of our goals,
though not the team GC which was a big one. That kind of ended the day
I crashed.

"The team is definitely happy. We're on the right track and we have a
goal for next year.

Julich finished fifth in yesterday's final time trial, a nice result at the end of the race. "To be in the top five in a Tour time trial is important and it felt good. But it definitely didn't make my Tour, because I had more disappointment and more down days than up days. That's life, and it's
good to end on a good note."

15:16 CEST    57km/106km to go
Simeoni is now chatting to his director Santoni in the Domina team car. Santoni supported Simeoni the other day.

On the front of the peloton, it's still Hincapie and Armstrong.

15:24 CEST    61km/102km to go
The peloton has just over 100 km to go as it rolls across the A4, not far from Disneyland Paris. Armstrong and Eki are chatting now, with a couple of other Posties on the front of the bunch.

15:29 CEST    63km/100km to go
The bunch exits Jossigny and now has exactly 100 km to go to the finish. The race ends with eight laps of a 6.5 km circuit, and that's generally when the racing really begins.

The only real jersey to be decided today is the green jersey. Barring crashes, there are four riders in with a chance today with 35 points for the stage win:

1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo                         238 pts
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                     227
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                         221
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Crédit Par Téléphone 215

15:35 CEST    68km/95km to go
If my calculations are right, the average speed for the Tour so far up until stage 19 is 40.63 km/h. Last year's Tour was actually 0.3 km/h faster. Today's stage will probably lower the overall average due to the rather long, slow prelude into Paris.

15:40 CEST    71km/92km to go
Several readers have pointed out that the Texas flag which is flying today in Paris in honour of Lance's sixth Tour win, is upside down and looks more like the Cuban flag than the Texan flag...

Well it wasn't us!

15:44 CEST    73km/90km to go
The peloton crosses the river Marne and is now in the outer 'burbs of Paris. The sun is shining quite pleasantly now, and the temperature is warming up to the high 20's.

JP Nazon punctures, but there's no panic and he gets a new rear wheel. He's still in the caravan so there should be no problem getting back on.

15:49 CEST    76km/87km to go
Nazon is now in the peloton again, helped back by three teammates. Voeckler is in his customary position of third last wheel.

Up front, it's Padrnos on Rubiera setting a steady tempo with Lance and Axel Merckx right behind them.

The first and only climb of the day is approaching at km 82, the Cat. 4 Cote de Montfermeil, a 600m climb at 7.2%. Who wants to be that Virenque goes for the points?

15:51 CEST    78km/85km to go
The crowds are getting thicker as the riders cruises towards the heart of Paris.

15:54 CEST    80km/83km to go
US Postal will definitely top the prize money list in the Tour, taking home the €400,000 prize for first place, and another big chunk for 5th (Azevedo). The top five teams after stage 19 are:

US Postal Service - €86,684
T-Mobile - €62,308
Team CSC - €58,586
Quickstep-Davitamon - €56,319
Cofidis - €54,304

15:56 CEST   
The bunch rolls into Montfermeil with a km to go before the climb. It's still Postal on the front, with Azevedo and Noval sharing the tempo. Spectators cheer them all the way.

15:58 CEST    82km/81km to go
The climb steepens and the crowds thicken. Moreau cheekily takes the points ahead of Azevedo and Hincapie and moves up to 6th in the mountains GC. There is much mirth.

16:00 CEST    83km/80km to go
The first sprint is approaching at Livry Gargan (km 86.5), and the sprinters teams are massing in front. US Postal will probably have to take a second row seat if the others are serious about the 6, 4, 2 points.

16:01 CEST    84km/79km to go
Lotto Domo and Credit Agricole jerseys are to the fore, mingled in with the blue train. McEwen is watching Hushovd like a hawk.

16:03 CEST    85km/78km to go
Marichal launches a spoiler attack just before the sprint, but has most of the Credit Agricole team on his wheel, along with McEwen, Hushovd and Zabel.

16:04 CEST    86.5km/76.5km to go
Four Credit Agricole riders lead out Hushovd: Moreau, Fedrigo, Joly and Dean. But McEwen jumps early and takes the points from Hushovd and Zabel. McEwen now has a 13 point lead in the green jersey comp, and looks very pumped.

16:05 CEST    87.5km/75.5km to go
The sprinters now sit up and wait for the peloton. The crowds are getting bigger. This is a huge stage for spectators.

16:11 CEST    90km/73km to go
Nicolas Portal (Ag2r) has a problem with some plastic in his derailleur. He stops and fixes it, gets going again, stops, fixes it again....

Simeoni is back at the front again, right behind the boys blue, planning another attack no doubt.

16:13 CEST    92km/71km to go
The peloton is now riding through Neuilly-sur-Marne at a steady Postie pace. Krivstov has dropped back to wait for Nicolas Portal, who had an encounter with a plastic bag a few km ago.

16:14 CEST   
Steven has emailed us from the turn on the Champs Elysées by the Arc de Triomphe. "I'm on the barriers for 6 hours. Tell them to hurry!"

Patience, grasshopper.

16:14 CEST   
An attack! It's Simeoni and a RAGT and a Rabobank rider!

16:15 CEST    93km/70km to go
Kroon is the Rabo rider and drops off the pace. Simeoni continues his effort but the Postal train is quickly up to speed and pegs him back.

16:17 CEST    95km/68km to go
The attack of Simeoni has strung the peloton out in one long line. This time, it's Hincapie who leads the Postal train up to the Italian's back wheel. Ekimov makes a sign with his index and little finger on his helmet as he passes him. The Postal boys now start to roll over. The race is starting.

Voeckler was caught out by that attack, but he's back to the rear end of the peloton again.

16:19 CEST    96km/67km to go
For those of you who haven't been following the Simeoni/Lance feud, I refer you to our stage 18 live report.

Simeoni decides to attack again. He doesn't get far. Ekimov has a chat to him.

16:21 CEST    98km/65km to go
Simeoni attacks a fourth time, and gets Andrea Peron (CSC) for company before the blue train swallows him up.

So what are the chances of Simeoni riding for Discovery Channel next year?

16:23 CEST   
Ekimov's sign to Simeoni was (allegedly) the Texan "Hook 'em Horns" sign on his helmet. It looked more than that.

16:27 CEST    102km/61km to go
The pace has picked up a bit now as the Postal workers lead the peloton into Paris. Lance is still looking pretty chirpy, as Jens Voigt and Scott Sunderland move up towards the front.

16:29 CEST    103km/60km to go
The bunch rides through the Bois de Vincennes, across the Quai de Bercy and into the centre of Paris.

16:34 CEST   
Our readers response to the actions of Lance and co. squashing Simeoni is split about 50-50. Half of you believe that it's very bad sportsmanship of Armstrong to chase down Simeoni at every opportunity, while the other half support him for being authoritative.

16:35 CEST    107km/56km to go
Postal is driving the tempo up in the peloton under the Quai de Bercy and Quai de la Rapee. Voeckler seems to have had too much fluid and is trying to eliminate it at the back of the bunch.

16:38 CEST    110km/53km to go
The tempo is upped to 45-50 km as the bunch rolls onto the Boulevard Henri IV. Just 4 km to go before the first passage of the finish line. They're now passing through the Place de la Bastille and are on the Rue de Rivoli.

16:39 CEST    112km/51km to go
Past the Hotel de Ville (no vacancy) and onto the finishing circuit, the Postal boys lead all the way.

16:42 CEST    114km/49km to go
Armstrong is sheltered behind his nine man train as they cross the Place de la Concorde and come up to the finish line for the first time. Let the biggest criterium in the world begin!

16:43 CEST    114km/49km to go
It's Ekimov who drives the bunch at high speed past the line with 8 x 6.5 km laps to go. All the GC riders are well place. Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches) makes the first attack. He might be able to take the sprint points but there's a host of sprinters behind him.

16:44 CEST    116km/47km to go
Hushovd and McEwen go head to head for the Haut des Champs Elysées, and it's Hushovd who holds off the green jersey wearer. 11 points is the difference again!

16:45 CEST    117km/46km to go
A Brioches rider has a small gap at the Arc, and with a whole lotta teammates behind him he might be able to open it up more. It's Jerome Pineau.

Fedrigo took third in the sprint.

16:46 CEST   
Pineau hammers on the downhill over the light cobblestones of the Champs Elysées, cheered by thousands of fans lining the road 5-6 deep. Erik Dekker bridges the gap to him, then Merckx.

16:47 CEST   
Merckx is halfway across to the leaders and has caught them now. It's full on pursuit behind them.

16:48 CEST    117km/46km to go
Voeckler has now got himself to the front of the bunch, which is bearing down on the three men in front. It's extremely difficult to get away in this stage.

All together.

16:49 CEST    118km/45km to go
Bettini, Voeckler, and Sunderland have a small gap with Merckx still there too. Santos Gonzalez bridges the gap but the peloton is coming.

16:50 CEST    120.5km/42.5km to go
There's 10 men off the front as they reach the line for the second time. Jalabert, Flecha, Sunderland, Voeckler, Merckx... 10 seconds.

16:52 CEST    122km/41km to go
The break is in the right hand gutter as it reaches the Arc with a 18 second lead.

Kroon, Bettini, Jalabert, Pereiro, Flecha, Astarloza, Sunderland, Voeckler, Merckx and J. I. Gutierrez are the men in front.

16:53 CEST   
The leaders are working well, as Sunderland rolls over Merckx. Then Gonzalez (or is it Pereiro?) and Gutierrez come through for their turns.

16:55 CEST    125km/38km to go
It is Pereiro, and the composition of the break is: Kroon, Bettini, Jalabert, Gonzalez, Flecha, Astarloza, Sunderland, Voeckler, Merckx, J. I. Gutierrez.

The peloton is now 35 seconds back.

16:57 CEST    126.5km/36.5km to go
The blue train is setting the tempo in the peloton with a token Credit Agricole rider: Benoît Salmon. Matt Wilson (FDJ) is also up there, as well as a Gerolsteiner rider. Most of the sprinters teams have men in the break, so there's no need to chase.

The leaders are almost at the end of lap 2. Across the Place de la Concorde and up to the finish line, with Bettini driving.

16:58 CEST    127km/36km to go
The peloton is looking pretty thin now as four riders are working on the front, chasing the 10 leaders. 36 seconds at the line.

Voeckler looks good as he rolls through for his turn up towards the Arc.

16:59 CEST    128km/35km to go
Karsten Kroon is Rabobank's representative up here, and Axel Merckx is looking very good too for Lotto-Domo. This is a tough climb up to the Arc, but they're making good ground.

Sunderland hammers and leads them round the top corner. The crowds are incredible up here. 10 deep even. 39 seconds.

17:01 CEST    129km/34km to go
The leaders fly down the "descent" on the cobbles, all still working hard, doing short turns. Flecha is in the break, a handy man to have.

Credit Agricole has more guys on the front of the bunch now. US Postal is right behind them.

17:03 CEST    130km/33km to go
Along the Quai des Tuileries and then under the tunnel, the break is making good ground on the peloton where there is a bit of panic from the Credit Agricole team.

Lotto will be very happy if this break stays clear. a) because it has Merckx in it and b) because no-one can threaten McEwen's green jersey.

17:03 CEST    131km/32km to go
Botcharov buries himself on the front of the bunch with Farazijn (Cofidis) on his wheel.

The break is not working perfectly, but it's hanging together. Kroon comes through and looks for the rest.

17:04 CEST    132km/31km to go
The leaders traverse the Place de la Concorde at 55 km/h and are coming up to 5 laps to go. The gap is 40 seconds and steady.

17:05 CEST   
A rough average speed for the first three laps: 53 km/h. Impressive.

17:06 CEST    133.5km/29.5km to go
The peloton has pegged it at 35 seconds at the line, but there's still a bit of work to do to haul the leaders back.

In front: Kroon, Bettini, Jalabert, Pereiro, Flecha, Astarloza, Sunderland, Voeckler, Merckx, J. I. Gutierrez.

17:08 CEST    134km/29km to go
Sunderland is riding well, leading them up to the Arc again, hammering around the corner and bringing the break up to speed again. The peloton is still riding hard behind, with Wilson on the front. They're both Aussies, but there's no cries of "Judas", thankfully.

Moreau punctures and gets a quick bike change at the Arc. Crash in the bunch - an RAGT rider and Casar. Eisel is also there. Casar is waiting for a wheel. This is going to be tough to get back.

17:10 CEST    137km/26km to go
Casar is on Eisel's wheel, doing 60 km/h down the Champs Elysées in pursuit of the peloton. That crash/change would have cost 30 seconds. It's very difficult to come back without help. He gets help from the caravan.

The gap is stable at about 37 seconds as the bunch crosses the place de la Concorde on back straight.

17:12 CEST    138.5km/24.5km to go
Under the tunnel and up to the Place de la Concorde on the other side of the course, the breakaways are riding flat out. Their gap is still 37 seconds and it's 10 riders versus 6 on the front of the peloton, leading the chase.

17:13 CEST    139km/24km to go
The speed is still 53 km/h as the peloton comes up to the line with four laps to go, 33 seconds behind the 10 leaders.

17:14 CEST    140km/23km to go
The breakaways climb the hill up to the Arc, hugging the right hand gutter. Jose Ivan Gutierrez comes through for his turn, rolling over Pereiro. This is flat out racing. Jalabert goes next, and then Sunderland. Bettini leads them round the corner.

17:15 CEST   
Botero and Aldag have now move to the front of the peloton to help chase. There's about eight riders now doing the work to chase the break. It's still 33 seconds.

Casar is on the back of the bunch again.

17:17 CEST    142km/21km to go
In the bunch, Botero does a big turn down the Champs Elysées as Moncoutié and Guerini come up to lend a hand. There's also a Liberty rider there. This could doom the break, but it's 35 seconds with 3.5 laps to go.

17:17 CEST   
In front, Pereiro pedals a big gear as he does his turn, then Sunderland and Voeckler. Bettini is looking strong.

17:19 CEST    143km/20km to go
Moncoutié and Botero lead the chase with Guerini also up there. T-Mobile want to put Zabel in a good position for the win. Credit Agricole has dropped out of the chase.

Ullrich is right up near the front behind a few blue boys.

17:19 CEST    146km/17km to go
The leaders are across the Place de la Concorde and are coming up to the sixth finish line passage. All the time, they have a 35 second gap.

17:20 CEST   
They're lapping in about 7'30 for 6.5 km.

The peloton is pulling them back and it's 23 seconds across the line.

17:21 CEST   
Sunderland does another big turn up the hill, trying to keep the break clear from the clutches of the peloton. Merckx is suffering, forcing the pace too. The peloton is getting closer.

17:22 CEST   
T-Mobile has decided to use the heavy artillery. Jan Ullrich himself is on the front of the peloton and has pulled the leaders back a bit more.

17:22 CEST   
Bettini leads round the Arc, looks across and sees Ullrich towing the peloton 15 seconds behind. That will create Doubt.

17:23 CEST   
Simeoni is in fourth last wheel in the company of his teammates.

17:24 CEST    147km/16km to go
The breakaways are flying down the Champs Elysées with 15 seconds of their lead intact. The peloton is really motoring thanks to Ullrich's effort.

Basso and Armstrong are right behind each other.

17:25 CEST    148km/15km to go
Across the Place de la Concorde and along the Quai des Tuileries, the breakaways are not giving an inch. The gap is 15 seconds as Liberty and T-Mobile lead the chase. It's up to 19 seconds again.

17:26 CEST    149km/14km to go
The 10 leaders have really lit up this stage: Kroon, Bettini, Jalabert, Pereiro, Flecha, Astarloza, Sunderland, Voeckler, Merckx, J. I. Gutierrez.

Ullrich is back on the front of the bunch, with Nardello on his wheel. He immediately carves 5 seconds off the lead. Ouch.

17:27 CEST    151km/12km to go
2 laps to go and the 10 man breakaway is fighting a losing battle, but it's not over yet. The peloton is in a very very long line in pursuit.

Bettini on the front, grimly determined. 8 seconds lead at the line, with Nozal leading the chase for Liberty.

17:28 CEST   
Voeckler and Sunderland roll over, then Merckx. The gap is just 5 seconds but the Ullrich driven peloton is now bearing down on them.

Bettini attacks just for something to do.

17:29 CEST    153km/10km to go
Bettini takes Pereiro, Kroon and the rest with him. The peloton is 5 seconds back at the top of the Arc. Ullrich's dropped back to fifth wheel.

17:30 CEST   
Kroon goes it alone on the downhill section, but the other breakaways haul him back. The peloton hasn't quite closed the gap. Ahh, here's Ullrich again.

17:31 CEST    155km/8km to go
Ullrich pulls the bunch up to the break and it's history. Less than 1.5 laps to go.

17:32 CEST   
Jalabert has another go but hasn't really got the gas, despite the bottle sticking out of his back pocket. Peloton together is it goes under the tunnel.

17:33 CEST   
Voeckler attacks again, and gets nowhere. Ullrich brings a few riders up. Cancellara takes over.

17:34 CEST    156km/7km to go
About 10 riders are off the front as they come up to the line with 1 lap to go. Ullrich, Voeckler, Cancellara are all there.

17:35 CEST    157km/6km to go
Da Cruze, Dekker, Ullrich, Klöden(!), Voeckler are all in the break. Ullrich is looking imposing.

Flecha counter attacks up towards the Arc. He is pursued.

17:36 CEST    157.5km/5.5km to go
The pace is still brutally fast as Flecha switches to the right hand gutter where it's smooth. He has 5 seconds at the top.

17:36 CEST   
The peloton starts to get organised to chase down Flecha. 3 seconds.

17:37 CEST    158.5km/4.5km to go
Flecha's teammate Cancellara is well placed at the front of the peloton, ready to counter. Flecha opens up a nice gap on the descent.

17:38 CEST    159km/4km to go
Quick.Step forms a train with Bettini, Mercado and Rogers in pursuit of Flecha, who has 2 seconds. He's gone.

17:38 CEST    160km/3km to go
Three Quick.Step riders lead two Fassas and two Gerolsteiners onto the Place de la Concorde for the back section.

17:39 CEST   
The pace is intensely high as Bettini continues his job in front. Then Dufaux takes over with Rogers on his wheel. Zabel moves up.

17:39 CEST    161km/2km to go
McEwen is on Hushovd's wheel on the right hand side. They hit the tunnel for the last time.

17:40 CEST   
Rogers leads out of the tunnel with two Fassas on his wheel. All together with 1.5 km to go.

17:41 CEST    162km/1km to go
FDJeux.com start a train on the right side. Pozzato is well placed, looking for a stage win.

Ivanov leads Zabel up to the front with 1 km to go. McEwen is down a bit, on Hushovd's wheel. Boonen is much better placed.

17:42 CEST    163km/0km to go
Across the Place de la Concorde and Tosatto swerves, Zanini avoids and leads out but Boonen is not there. Boonen comes off Zabel's wheel, goes up the middle and he and Hondo go head to head to the line and it's Boonen who wins!!!!!!!!

Nazon takes second from Hondo, McEwen and Zabel. McEwen wins the green jersey.

Tom Boonen wins his second Tour stage in one of the nicest sprints of his career. What a fantastic debut Tour for the young Belgian. Let the comparisons with Museeuw start.

Yellow jersey Lance Armstrong finishes in 114th place, 19 seconds behind the winner after easing off in the final kilometres with his teammates as company. He can finally claim his historic sixth Tour de France win, the first rider ever to do this. It's been a dominating performance from Armstrong and his team for the last three weeks. The only stage that he conceded any time to his rivals was that to La Mongie when Basso beat him by about a bike length. Since then, it's been all Armstrong, all the time.

We've seen some good performances from Andreas Klöden and Ivan Basso, who could be the next generation of Tour winners. Ullrich was a little disappointing in fourth, but he'll be back for another crack next year. Will Armstrong? We'll see...

With McEwen taking the green for the second time in his career, the other jerseys went to Richard Virenque (mountains) and Vladimir Karpets (young rider). T-Mobile won the team classification.

Filippo Simeoni took the Most Combative prize for the day! But Richard Virenque claimed the overall Most Combative prize over the three weeks.

Thanks for following our live coverage of the Tour de France on Cyclingnews. We'll be back with the Olympics, late season World Cups, Vuelta, World Championships and whatever else in the coming months. And cows.


1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon             4.08.26
2 Jean Patrick Nazon (Fra) Ag2r
3 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
6 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis
7 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
8 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
9 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Domina Vacanze
10 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
114 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor         0.19

Final general classification

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor       83.36.02
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team                        6.19
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                 6.40
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                           8.50
5 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor             14.30
6 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto    18.01
7 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner                       18.27
8 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                             19.51
9 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank                           20.12
10 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems              22.54

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