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Tour de France Cycling News for July 18, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Stage 15 wrap up

Hincapie takes big, emotional win

By Shane Stokes

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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George Hincapie had undoubtedly the best day of his career today, transforming himself from Classics rider to Tour mountain stage winner on the hardest day of the race. The Discovery Channel rider reached the top of the Hors Category Saint-Lary-Soulon with just Phonak's Oscar Pereiro for company, easily outsprinting him to take his first ever Tour stage win.

Teammate Lance Armstrong had surely thought about winning today on eve of the 10th anniversary of the death of Fabio Casartelli, but when a 14-man group containing Hincapie and Pereiro gained 19 minutes on the peloton, Discovery switched to Plan B. Armstrong focussed on getting more time out of the other GC contenders and did just that, breaking clear with Ivan Basso (Team CSC) on the final climb and finishing just behind the Italian in seventh. Jan Ullrich lost 1'24 to Armstrong, while all the other contenders were even further back.

After getting into the early break, Hincapie and Pereiro went clear on the category one Col du Peyresourde, along with Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom) and Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole). However the duo proved too strong for the others on the final climb, with a fresher Hincapie jumping away from the Spaniard for the win.

"I knew it was going to be a tough day," said the visibly moved 32 year old after the finish. "I actually wanted to just go in the breaks and get a head start on the group, possibly wait for Lance and help him out at the finish. But we ended up getting 18 minutes. Johan said "you guys aren't coming back, George do your race." They gave me the go-ahead. It is a dream come true today."

Also see:

Stage 15 full results, report & photos
Live report

Complete stage maps & profiles
Start list

An interview with George Hincapie

King of the queen stage

Revered man for the Classics, George Hincapie, looked a far better bet of winning Paris-Roubaix than a mountain stage of the Tour de France. But today, under an ulterior motive, he did the latter, outriding and outlasting his 13 other breakaway companions to win his first stage of the Tour de France - and the hardest one at that, as Anthony Tan reports from Pla d'Adet.

On the top of the podium!
Photo ©: Sirotti
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How did he do it?

"Initially, the beginning was very hard and there were a lot of attacks. We didn't say anything about me going in the break or anything at the [team] meeting, but I thought if I go in one of these breaks with 10, 12 guys, I'll be able to get a good gap and definitely be there for Lance on the last two climbs," he explained. "So I kind of decided by myself to go on my own in one of these breaks, get a gap and be there when he needed me.

"But we ended up getting 18 minutes and once Johan saw that, he said: 'Listen, George - you're probably not going to come back here now, you can do your own race. From then on, I started thinking about the win and thinking it was possible."

No, George - how did you do that?!

Hincapie smiled before answering: "Well, two things. There was the '99 Tour, and all of a sudden, we had to pull up these big climbs. I just went up as many mountains as I can, and every year, I seem to get a little bit better on the climbs."

Click here for the full interview

Basso gains, Ullrich admits defeat

By Hedwig Kröner in Saint-Lary-Soulan

Ivan Basso (CSC)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Yesterday, CSC's Ivan Basso told French daily L'Equipe, "You can't write that I never attack - but what can I say now? Armstrong showed that he was the strongest. Nevertheless, I will try again." So the young Italian did today, clearly showing that he was the only GC contender that could match Lance Armstrong's capacities in high mountains and moving up to second overall behind the American.

"Ivan was amazing today," his directeur sportif, Bjarne Riis said after today's stage. "I'm very impressed by the fact he dared to attack and he is really able to challenge Armstrong in the mountains." Basso rode himself to second place in the general classification on the second of the three Pyrenean stages of this year's Tour, only 2'46 minutes away, and therefore almost within reach of the leader's jersey.

The trio of Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso drove up the penultimate climb together, but on the final ascent to Pla d'Adet and following an acceleration by the Italian, Der Kaiser could not hold Armstrong's wheel. Ullrich is now almost six minutes down on the yellow jersey, and after all these years of him trying to slip into it again, one could hardly look at the German getting towed to the finish by his selfless teammate Oscar Sevilla without feeling sorry for him.

Thinking back on the final ascent to Ax-3-Domaines yesterday, when T-Mobile had isolated Armstrong in the Pailhères climb and the ever more courageous Vinokourov attacked again, Ullrich admitted his defeat in his personal website: "That was the moment where I should have gotten Armstrong," he wrote. "But in the end, on the last kilometre, he was stronger than me again. But it was a great fight on a sporting level and that's why I'm satisfied with my performance."

A disappointed Jan Ullrich
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Today, T-Mobile's initial racing strategy - for what it's worth in high mountains, some might say - was hindered by the Danish team, who put on a pace in the third to last climb, the Peyresourde. "That's where we wanted to make the tempo," T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden said. "But when CSC drove in front of the bunch, it was hard for us. I don't care about my placing on GC anymore. We want to get Jan on the podium, and I think we can," he added, preferring to outline the positive side of the situation.

"We have to accept that there are riders in this Tour who are simply stronger," an often grumpy team manager Walter Godefroot said, who will be stepping down from his position after this season. On another note of resignation, he added, "We have tried everything yesterday and today, and that was exactly our goal."

Massive crowds cause trouble

By Hedwig Kröner in Saint-Lary-Soulan

That can't be good for you
Photo ©: AFP
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One trademark of the Tour de France, other than the remarkable accomplishments of the best cyclists in the world, are its huge masses of spectators that gather every year on the climbs of the Alps or the Pyrenees. All in all a peaceful crowd, some of these fans still cause trouble and damage when not observing basic principles of civil conduct.

On the 15th stage, in the heart of the Pyrenees and close to the Basque country, a crowd of about 200 Basque fans disturbed the otherwise peaceful party and threw stones at several vehicles of the Tour caravan, damaging more than one. The Spanish public television TVE, who had one vehicle vandalised, have filed a police report.

The Tour de France organisation has also repeatedly reminded cycling supporters that running beside the climbing riders can be dangerous for the athletes, for the accompanying vehicles as well as for the fans themselves. Nevertheless, an accident occurred on Sunday afternoon involving an overly excited spectator and a TV motorbike. The man ran beside Oscar Pereiro and George Hincapie in the stage finale, then stopped, not noticing that the TV motorbike was right behind him. The pilot braked, and the cameraman jumped off the bike as it fell down on top the fan. In the evening, it was not yet known if any of the involved suffered injuries.

After the stage, there was a massive traffic jam on the Pla d'Adet with the narrow mountain road blocked by three accidents, and the traffic not moving at all.

Intermediate prize money check

The Tour de France organisation has issued its classification of prize money in the end of stage 15. Discovery Channel leads the list with €52,330 of remuneration up until now, followed by Rabobank (€49,820), T-Mobile (€49,540), Crédit Agricole (€37,900) and Gerolsteiner (€37,160). The ranking continues with Davitamon-Lotto, CSC, Cofidis, Quick.Step, Française des Jeux, Fassa Bortolo, Illes Balears, Phonak, Bouygues, Liquigas, Liberty, Lampre-Caffita, Saunier Duval, AG2R and Domina Vacanze in that order, the last team scoring a mere €3,810 up until Sunday, 17.

Medical communiqué

On the evening preceding the second rest day in Pau, the medical staff of the Tour de France has announced the following riders to have health problems.

Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears): Respiratory problems
Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile): Digestive troubles
Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom): Pain in left knee
Giovanni Lombardi (Team CSC): Superficial injuries on right hand side
Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas): Pain in right knee
Bram Tankink (Quick.Step): Injuries to left elbow and knee

Untitled Document

The Tour de France of give-aways and competitions

Don't miss out at Tour time!

Resident freebies expert, Rufus Staffordshire, sniffs out some competitions where up to $1 million in prizes are on offer as manufacturers clamber for your eyeballs. Woof!

Lucky 7 Sweepstakes'
Photo ©: Trek
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The Tour de France is not only a reasonably popular bike race, ahem, it's also a great opportunity to win an incredible range of prizes and competitions on offer from manufacturers, publishers and distributors.

Many of our sponsors are offering Cyclingnews readers a schwag-fest of give-aways during the lap-around-France. The prizes on offer range from Volkswagens and vaccuum cleaners through to trips to Paris for the 2006 TdF, as well as actual kit being ridden by top pros in the Tour - including top bikes from Trek, Cervelo, and Avanti.

So that you don't have to go hunting around the Internet for all these goodies, we've assembled the Cyclingnews complete guide to Tour freebies and competitions.

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