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Photo ©: Sirotti

92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 19 - Friday, July 22: Issoire - Le Puy-en-Velay, 153.5 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and Hedwig Kröner

Live report

Live coverage starts: 13:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

Stage 19 profile
Click for stage map

13:35 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 19th stage of the Tour de France, another one in the Massif Central, this time from Issoire to Le Puy-en-Velay. Today's stage isn't quite as tough as yesterday's at the finish, but there is still a bit of climbing to overcome and it's definitely not a day for the sprinters.

The climbs today:

Côte des Gerbaudias (km 23, Cat. 4, 6.0 km climb at 3.1 %)
Côte de Saint-Eloy-la-Glacière (km 38.5, Cat. 3, 11.3 km climb at 3.2 %)
Col des Pradeaux (km 68m, Cat. 2, 11.4 km climb at 5.6 %)
Côte des Terrasses (km 96, Cat. 4, 2.9 km climb at 3.7 %)
Côte de Malaveille (km 107.5, Cat. 4, 2.9 km climb at 5 %)

The two intermediate sprints are at Ambert (km 55.5) and Bellevue-La-Montagne (km 123.5).

It's sunny and warm again, with temps of 25 degrees at the start, and 28 expected at the finish. The wind is from the north, which is more or less against the riders, and it will be gusting up to 30-40 km/h.

The stage starts at 13:30 with a 3.5 km neutral zone, before the Départ réel at 13:37.

13:43 CEST    4km/149.5km to go
The official start was given at 13:36, and Swiss rider Alexandre Moos (Phonak) is the first to go on the attack. He has a gap of 12 seconds at the moment.

13:48 CEST    7km/146.5km to go
Moos continues to ride about 150 metres ahead of the peloton, with no-one joining him yet.

13:52 CEST    10km/143.5km to go
Moos is caught and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is the next rider on the attack. He was involved in yesterday's 10 man break that made it to the finish, but didn't have the legs to go with the front riders on the Côte de la Croix Neuve.

He doesn't have the legs today either. All back together.

13:55 CEST   
It should be a fairly routine day for maillot jaune Lance Armstrong and the Discovery Channel team, who should not be threatened by any attacks from the GC riders. Chris Brewer, from Behind the Blue Curtain, reports:

Relaxed but very focused, that's the mood as the Discovery Channel team headed to the line today. I asked Directeur Sportif Johan Bruyneel what the plan was, and it's a simple one. 'Stay at the front, and keep Lance safe,' he said as he drove out for one more day on the road before the TT tomorrow.

13:59 CEST    16km/137.5km to go
The ever-aggressive Juan-Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) make the next foray, but they are not allowed any freedom.

14:04 CEST    20km/133.5km to go
The peloton is now on the Côte des Gerbaudias, with its summit at km 23. It's a 6 km climb at 3.1%, rated as a Cat. 4.

14:08 CEST    22km/131.5km to go
Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros) is the next to attack, shortly before the summit of the Côte des Gerbaudias.

14:10 CEST   
It's all back together again. Who will take the points on the climb? Michael Rasmussen doesn't have to bother any more, as he's unbeatable for the polka-dot jersey.

14:16 CEST   
Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) and Gerolsteiner's Ronny Scholz went clear on the climb and led over the top. They are now being chased down by eight riders. One of these, Brad McGee (FDJ) took third at the summit.

14:19 CEST    31km/122.5km to go
There are now thirteen riders clear, including Hincapie, Julich, Botero, Jaksche and Zubeldia. But the bunch closes them down - peloton groupé now

14:21 CEST   
Chris Brewer reports again that, "Back at the start line a small crowd has formed around one of the Lampre vehicles. Apparently it's not good to have one set of keys and to lock them in a team car. So we have three Lampre staff trying to break into their own vehicle as fans and TV cameras keep a close eye."

14:25 CEST   
T-Mobile's Giuseppe Guerini and Sandy Casar of the Francaise des Jeux team decide life is too cosy in the peloton and clear off up the road. They've got ten seconds and, also, Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) for company.

The Spaniard won stage 16 of this year's race. Guerini won the 1999 Alpe d'Huez stage.

14:31 CEST    37.4km/116.1km to go
The three leaders are now being chased by Scholz and McGee, who are ten seconds back.

14:36 CEST    41km/112.5km to go
The three leaders are nearing the top of the next climb, the cat 3 Côte de Saint-Eloy-la-Glacière.

Pereiro takes the points from Guerini and Casar. The two chasers were caught and three more set off in pursuit. Pellizotti (Liquigas Bianchi) jumps clear of Arvesen (Team CSC) and Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir) over the top. He is riding well and closes up to the three leaders, making it four ahead of a pursuing Garate. Arvesen is further back.

14:42 CEST    46km/107.5km to go
Garate and Arvesen have joined up again and are about 0'18 back. The peloton are a further 0'17 back, led by the Fassa Bortolo team.

Now Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) takes over at the front, with others also contributing.

The leaders are on the descent and working very well.

14:46 CEST    50km/103.5km to go
Arvesen has been caught by some attacking riders. Chavanel is up there and giving it loads. He is being followed by a Domina Vacanze rider, then five others. Former Italian champion Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Caffita) is there, as is Discovery's Jose Azevedo. More names to follow.

Bert Grabsch (Phonak) jumps across from the peloton.

The other names in the chasing group are Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Caros Da Cruz and Alessandro Bertolini (Domina Vacanze). The four leaders have 0'40 on these riders.

14:50 CEST    55km/98.5km to go
To recap:

Four riders are leading: Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Sandy Casar (FDJ), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi)

And being chased by several others:

Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), Jose Azevedo (Discovery), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Carlos Da Cruz (FDJ), Alessandro Bertolini (Domina Vacanze), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Nicolas Portal (Ag2r), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo).

Meanwhile, Spanish champion Garate - who was up the road but was caught by the bunch - seems to have punctured. He's back chasing now.

14:54 CEST   
News today is that the Fassa Bortolo team are stopping. They had been hoping to get a new sponsor but were unable to do so. Presumably the arrest of Dario Frigo and his wife for alleged possession of doping substances earlier in the Tour didn't help the search for backing, even if the team insisted that it had nothing to do with them.

Start sprinter Alessandro Petacchi has a verbal agreement with Domina Vacanze. More news on this will be on this site shortly.

14:57 CEST    57km/96.5km to go
The four leaders are passing the sprint line in Ambert. They don't contest it, with Pereiro first over the line. They seem to be working pretty well, although Guerini looks a bit out of place here on the flat. He's all over the bike.

Discovery are leading the chase. Lance Armstrong's about six riders back, looking relaxed. Just three days to go now for the Texan, who's having a big farewell bash in Paris on Sunday.

15:02 CEST    60km/93.5km to go
Da Cruz is wearing the red dossard of most aggressive rider. He's been up the road quite a bit in this year's Tour.

So too Pereiro and Pellizotti.

The pace looks quite relaxed in the peloton. If the sprinters are to have their day they may have to get their teams to drive it along a little later on; Discovery don't seem in too much of a hurry to bring the break back.

The sprint competition is still close, although Robbie McEwen's chances are pretty slim. Thor Hushovd is 14 points clear of Stuart O'Grady and, providing he sprints well on Sunday, should take it. The other two will be hoping to get clear in a move and sneak a few extra points.

McEwen lost out when he was disqualified on stage 3, losing a bundle of points.

15:04 CEST   
Commesso has attacked the chase group and gone well clear. He is on the Col des Pradeaux, the last Cat 2 climb in this year's Tour. The sun is blazing down and Commesso has his sleeves rolled right up.

Up front, Pereiro leads Pellizotti, Guerini and Casar on the climb.

15:11 CEST    63km/90.5km to go
Bertolini has been dropped on the climb. The peloton is well lined out, with Hushovd at the back.

Casar leads the break as they get a time check on the peloton. Commesso is 44 seconds back from the front runners and grimacing, with the rest of the chase 1'01 behind. The bunch is at 3'55.

Contador (Liberty) punctures, gets a new wheel and then has to stop again. The mechanic made a bags of putting the wheel in and it was rubbing.

15:15 CEST    64.2km/89.3km to go
There seems to be a lack of co-operation in the chasing group. Arvesen's gesturing at the others - "Hey! Pull your fingers out" (or words to that effect)

Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) is getting attention from the race doctor. Looks like he's got something in his eye, most probably an insect.

Commesso is 59 seconds back now, so he ain't going anywhere. Except backwards : )

15:19 CEST    66km/87.5km to go
Weening is leading the chase. Portal's down the back and looks to be in a big of trouble.

This second group has actually split; Flecha, Bertolini, Portal and Chavanel have been dropped.

Commesso's been caught by the others, so this second group is as follows: Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC), Jose Azevedo (Discovery), Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Carlos Da Cruz (FDJ), Pieter Weening (Rabobank) and Salvatore Commesso (Lampre)

15:25 CEST   
Back with the peloton, a load of riders are going south the climb. Discovery are setting a hard tempo to discourage any more attacks; Hushovd is at the very back and suffering.

Further down, riders such as Menchov (Rabobank) and Sevilla (T-Mobile) are amongst about 20 who have been dropped.

Pereiro gets the points on the climb, with Pellizotti, Guerini and Casar following in that order.

This may be a small climb (well, relative to those the riders were doing a few days ago) but the crowds are pretty good.

Weening leads the next group over the top, 1'19 back. Azevedo and Da Cruz aren't contributing. The first of these is exempt as his team-mate's in yellow, while Da Cruz has a rider up front (Casar).

15:31 CEST   
Stuart O'Grady was one of those dropped on the climb; he's been pretty ill with food poisoning the past couple of days. No sign of McEwen at the moment, not sure where he is.

Arvesen is driving the chase along as the drop down the descent. It's fast, with sweeping, tree-lined turns. Just under 78 kilometres to go to the finish.

Flecha's group is coming back up to the other chasers, so the pursuers are tout ensemble once more.

15:37 CEST    81.5km/72km to go
Discovery are still on the front. The peloton are rolling down this descent, with Armstrong taking the opportunity to stretch his back.

The pace has dropped right off again. Looks like Discovery were just trying to stop attacks, rather than bring the front guys back. So will we see some of the sprinters' teams starting to chase soon?

Credit Agricole are unlikely to bother; it suits them for these guys to stay clear and mop up the points. It's up to Cofidis and Davitamon.Lotto, methinks.

The gap is 4'30 so no panic just yet.

One of the readers was asking us to clarify a phrase used...make a bags of something=mess it up. Irish phrase - sorry about that! ; )

15:40 CEST   
Feedtime at the zoo as the peloton pick up their feedbags. Quite a few of those dropped are getting back on. Hincapie's having a chat with Armstrong as they roll along.

15:44 CEST    86.1km/67.4km to go
No respite for those up front. The difference is pace/application is noticeable, compared to the bunch. The chasers are hammering along too, although the large size of this group doesn't help things. Weening is driving it while a couple of others are sitting on.

The peloton is spread across the road, still on their time-out.

15:54 CEST   
Jan Ullrich gained some time on third-placed Michael Rasmussen yesterday.2004 was the first time the German didn't make it to the podium in the race, so he'll be keen to move up from fourth in Saturday's time trial. The gap of 2'12 looks to be pretty manageable for the former world time trial champion, as Rasmussen isn't know as a tester.

The Dane finished way back in 174rd place in the opening time trial, losing 2'06 to Ullrich over just 19 kilometres. While he says his third place overall will motivate him tomorrow, it's really hard to see him hold off the German rider, especially as tomorrow's test is 55 kilometres long.

16:02 CEST    99.8km/53.7km to go
The leaders are now on the Côte des Terrasses. Pereiro leads, then Guerini comes through for a turn. The chasers are 2'09 back with the peloton 8'26 down. Davitamon.Lotto/Cofidis will need to start getting organised if McEwen and O'Grady are to entertain thoughts of winning and taking points from Hushovd.

Azevedo's looking pretty relaxed in the chasing group (as well he might, because he hasn't had to contribute). It would be interesting if these were to reel in the first four. His freshness would give Discovery a pretty decent chance of taking another stage win. Interestingly, they've had two victories thus far (leaving out the team time trial). Neither has gone to Armstrong, so if he doesn't win tomorrow it'd be a pretty rare occurrence. Unless he turned into a bunch sprinter extraordinaire for Sunday, he'd finish the race with the overall victory as his only win of 2005.

Still, not a bad win : )

Pereiro, Guerini and Pellizotti took the points on the climb.

16:09 CEST    105.4km/48.1km to go
The Illes-Balears team are driving it on the front of the peloton. They are concerned that Pereiro might overtake Francisco Mancebo, who is fifth overall.

On the road, Pereiro is now well into the top ten overall.

The gap is nearly nine minutes from the Pereiro/Guerini/Pellizotti/Casar group to the peloton.

16:16 CEST   
The four leaders are still working nicely together. The group is a good size, unlike the chasers who are not really functioning too well as a unit. Although the pace seems to be on at times, the messing around means that they are still over 2 minutes back.

Commesso is driving it now, carrying Chavanel and Weening clear. Azevedo, Grabsch, Arvesen and Flecha get across, making it seven chasers. This is a better sized group. The riders are on the final climb of the day.

Pereiro, Casar and Guerini cross the KOH prime line in that order, meaning that the Phonak rider takes maximum points today. He still can't catch Rasmussen, though, who started 50 points clear this morning.

16:19 CEST    110.6km/42.9km to go
Illes Balears are still driving the chase. No sign of Davitamon.Lotto, who have two reasons to chase. Namely, Cadel Evans (7th overall) and Robbie McEwen (potential stage winner). They are either gambling or knackered.

16:22 CEST    113.5km/40km to go
There is a large sign welcoming the riders to Craponne. One of those names that appeals to the schoolboy humour..but not us, though, we are too sophisticated for that : )

The case group is splitting again. Commesso, Flecha and Grabsch surge, then Weening and Chavanel bridge. Commesso's feeling good and he goes again.

There are two groups of five chasers now, with Azevedo in the wrong half. That's unusual...he's had an easy ride today.

The peloton are cresting the climb now, 7'52 down. The first four are 40 km from the finish, and still a minute and a half clear of the next riders.

16:27 CEST    115.5km/38km to go
Despite the split in the chasing group, the first five opted to mess around rather than knuckle down to the task at hand. So those two groups have merged again. It's not looking good for this chase, unless they get organised.

Pereiro rolls through up front. He's had a great Tour, winning a stage, finishing second in another and generally being aggressive.

Like Davitamon.Lotto, Credit Agricole have also a reason to chase; Christophe Moreau.

Right on cue, the two teams roll (or, rather, hurtle) to the front and get to it. Gerolsteiner also have a rider up there.

16:36 CEST   
For those of you who were wondering, Greg Lemond is the last rider to win the Tour without taking a stage. That happened in 1990. He was second on the Luz Ardiden stage, riding powerfully on the climb but being beaten by Miguel Indurain at the top. That stage probably marked the latter's transformation from strong, stage winning rider to Tour contender. And we all know what happened the next year.

In 1990, LeMond was also second in the prologue behind Thierry Marie and second on Alpe d'Huez, behind Bugno.

The other Tour winners not to win a stage are Lucien Aimar (1966), Gastone Nencini (1960), Roger Walkowiak (1956) and Firmin Lambot (1922).

16:40 CEST    126.5km/27km to go
Pereiro, Guerini and Pellizotti cross the sprint line in Bellevue-La-Montagne in that order.

Translated, the name means 'Beautiful view of the mountain'. The peloton would surely agree, given that the climbs are now in the rear view mirror (and getting smaller)

16:44 CEST   
This chase group is really messing around, speeding and then stalling. Commesso's having none of it and attacks yet again. Chavanel's also going well and he jumps on the other side of the road. Grabsch gets across to the two of them but, somewhat predictably, the others bust a gut to get up to them and then ease back.

The gap to the front four has gone out to 2'15 again. Zut alors.

Commesso attacks on a little climb and gets a gap. He's clear, so it will be interesting to see if another couple of riders get across to him. Then they might have a chance.

16:46 CEST    133km/20.5km to go
It's mostly downhill to the finish now, as the four leaders assume a full tuck and fly down a descent.

2'24 behind them, Chavanel has taken it upon himself to chase down Commesso for that fifth place. The peloton is now at 6'41, so Moreau's 10th spot on GC is still in danger from Pereiro. They'll need to get it under 4'00 to save that.

16:49 CEST    135.5km/18km to go
Commesso and Chavanel are at 2'18, with the rest of that chase group at 2'26. That's not going to threaten the four leaders, who are en route to a stage victory in Le Puy-en-Velay. Pereiro would have to be a favourite, as he's been riding so well in the final week.

16:51 CEST    137.5km/16km to go
Chavanel and Commesso are working pretty hard to try to stay away from the rest of the chasers. They have good cooperation. Commesso has been very strong today, and is probably annoyed that he missed the first break of four. But the other seven (minus Bertolini) are 10 seconds behind.

16:53 CEST    138.5km/15km to go
Arvesen and Portal are chasing Commesso and Chavanel, and Arvesen now makes contact.

16:55 CEST    140.5km/13km to go
Grabsch and Portal have caught Arvesen, Chavanel and Commesso. This chase group has been anything but stable today.

16:57 CEST    142.5km/11km to go
The race for stage honours is up front, though. All four leaders are still working together, holding 2'16 over their nearest chasers and six minutes to the peloton.

16:58 CEST    143.5km/10km to go
10 clicks to go and the leaders can see the valley below them where Le Puy-en-Velay is nestled. Not much more work to do now in this stage for Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Sandy Casar (FDJ), and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas-Bianchi).

17:00 CEST    144.5km/9km to go
Moreau's 10th place on GC will probably be taken by Pereiro today, as the gap is still 5'49 between the break and the peloton with 9 km to go. 3'55 is the magic number for Moreau. Of course, the CA rider may be able to take some of that back in the final TT tomorrow.

17:02 CEST    145.5km/8km to go
The leaders are on the 200m drop to Chadrac, being pursued by Arvesen, Commesso, Grabsch, Chavanel and Portal.

Bertolini has been caught by the bunch now, taking time to commune with nature on the side of the road (from the bike).

17:03 CEST    148.5km/5km to go
We're plunging down into Le Puy-en-Velay at high speed now, with just over 5 km to go.

Guerini's presence in the break should bolster T-Mobile's team classification today [for the nth time, it's taken on the three best team riders in the stage, not on GC]

17:04 CEST    149.5km/4km to go
Guerini takes a turn, then eases off and tightens his shoe straps. The pace in the break drops as they get to the outskirts of town. Under a railway bridge and through a few roundabouts, and it's 4 km to go.

17:05 CEST   
Sandy Casar (FDJ) has been awarded the most combative prize for the day. His team are doing well in this classification.

17:06 CEST    150.5km/3km to go
Will this be a four man sprint? They're still all working together.

Under a viaduct with 2.5 km to go. And now through the tree-lined streets.

17:07 CEST    151.5km/2km to go
Pereiro does a strong turn in front, probably interested in his GC as well. Top 10 in the Tour is not too shabby. But can he add another stage win?

17:07 CEST   
The peloton is now at 5'15, the next chasers at 2'12.

17:07 CEST    152km/1.5km to go
Pereiro signals for Casar to come through, but the Frenchman doesn't. Guerini attacks!

17:08 CEST    152.5km/1km to go
Guerini has put in a huge attack and the other three just watch Pereiro. Guerini has 5 seconds with 1 km to go. He's got it.

17:08 CEST   
Pereiro ups the pace as he wants the GC seconds, but it's Guerini who will win this stage. Fantastic attack by the Italian 1999 Alpe d'Huez winner.

17:09 CEST    153.5km/0km to go
Giuseppe "Turbo" Guerini rides up to the finish and wins the 19th stage in Le-Puy-en-Velay. He looks back and realises he has plenty of time to celebrate, and he does. Casar takes second from Pellizotti and Pereiro at 9 seconds.

17:12 CEST   
Commesso attacks pretty much where Guerini did, and comes in to take fifth place at 2'42. He was definitely the strongest of the chase group. Portal, Arvesen, Grabsch and Chavanel are the next over.

17:14 CEST   
Pieter Weening finishes 10th at 3'49, then Azevedo leads the next group home for 11th at 4'20. The peloton sprint for 14th is won by McEwen from Hushovd and O'Grady. That will give Hushovd a bigger lead over O'Grady in the green competition, even if McEwen closed the gap by one point. Hushovd would have to finish well down in the points on Sunday to lose the green.

17:23 CEST   
OK that's all folks from the final "transition stage" of this year's Tour. Tomorrow, the big guns will come out to play in the 55 km Saint-Etienne time trial. Although Armstrong's yellow is virtually assured, and Basso's second place also, Ullrich and Rasmussen will battle it out for that third place on GC, and the other top 10 GC riders will try to maintain or improve their positions too.

Join us at 10:40 local time for our live coverage of Stage 20.


1 Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) T-Mobile Team                               3.33.04
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux                                  0.09
3 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
4 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                     
5 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                               2.43
6 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance                                  2.48
7 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC
8 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone
10 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank                                        3.49
11 Jose Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel

General classification after stage 19 

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                           81.22.19
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                             2.46
3 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                      3.46
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                       5.58
5 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                7.08
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                                    8.12
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                     9.49
8 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                             10.11
9 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                            10.42
10 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                      12.39

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