92nd Tour de France - GT
France, July 2-24, 2005
Results & report
Stage 14 - Saturday, July 16: Agde - Ax-3 Domaines, 220.5 km
Commentary by Roger Hughes, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and
Live coverage starts: 10:50 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST
Stage 14 profile
Good morning, and welcome to an early
start to the first of the Pyrenean stages.
Today the Tour organisers
have brought us a three-for-the-price-of-one special: a long stage that starts
as a flat sprinter's special over the first 70km (including the day's two bonus
sprints), followed by a rolling section (with a handful of fourth category climbs)
that might see some optimistic breakaways, and then a climber's battlefield
with the hors catégorie Port de Pailherčs and a summit finish at Ax-les-Trois-Domaines.
And we'll be with you all the way...
The riders are now on the neutralised
section out to the start proper.
11:10 CEST 10km/210.5km to go
Today's two bonus
sprints (the first is at Narbonne after 50k) will not make any difference to
who wears the green jersey tomorrow - the 12 points on offer are less than the
14 that separate Thor Hushovd and Stuart O'Grady, and neither will be in contention
for the points at the stage finish today - but will still be of interest to
those two riders; Robbie McEwen has declared that he is not particularly interested
in the points competition, just in stage wins (not least because he lost a significant
number of points when relegated from second place on the third stage), and having
hammered his team yesterday will surely be giving them orders to take it easy
while they can today.
The start of the race is, for once, fairly
steady and there are no successful breakaways yet, such attempts as there have
been having been squashed by the peloton pretty quickly. One non-starter this
morning: Rabobank's Gerben Löwik is out of the race.
The final 100 metres.
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
Our Behind the Blue curtain reporter
Chris Brewer has checked in with his pre-stage report:
around the team hotel is relaxed but focused, knowing the next 2 days are critical
to winning the 2005 Tour. I spoke with Discovery Channel's Director Sportif
Johan Bruyneel and Assistant DS Dirk Demol. 'Today and tomorrow are going to
be decisive, both with mountain finishes. But we have an advantage and it's
up to the others to attack,' said Bruyneel. 'Our plan is to maintain what we
have and see how the others react. If there's a possibility, and Lance feels
good, he might try, but we'll figure that out on the road.'
Demol which of the 2 stages he saw as having the biggest chance for major attacks.
'Today is hard, but tomorrow is even harder. If you give your all today you
may pay for it tomorrow. I think the big, big attacks will come tomorrow.'"
11:22 CEST 25km/195.5km to go
A group of ten
riders has now gone a few seconds clear, and the names in it suggest that they
are more interested in the end of the stage than the preamble: Totschnig, Garzelli
(32 today), Garate, Nardello and Moos alongside rouleurs like Gilbert, Krivtsov,
Beneteau, Grivko and Carlos Da Cruz who was in the break all day yesterday.
Rabobank are leading the chase and they have a quarter of a minute's lead.
11:38 CEST 40km/180.5km to go
The gap for the
ten riders is now increasing, up to 2.25. The best placed of them is Georg Totschnig,
22nd on GC and 11.43 behind Lance Armstrong; with a sackful of mountains points
on offer today, Rabobank will have been doing their sums with an eye to protecting
Michael Rasmussen's mountains jersey, but they don't have too much to worry
about - the most threatening rider in the break is Juan Manuel Garate with 24
points to Rasmussen's 160.
It's still hot down here by the Med, with
clear skies, and it looks as though it will be staying that way all the way
into the mountains without much relief, a far cry from the temperatures not
far above freezing at the top of the Galibier, at any rate.
11:58 CEST 50km/170.5km to go
leads out his team-mate Carlos Da Cruz for the first sprint in Narbonne, and
Andriy Grivko follows them over for third; no big changes to anything from that.
There are another 28 km to the second sprint at Saint-Laurent-la-Cabrerisse.
The break now have a lead approaching four minutes.
12:05 CEST 60km/160.5km to go
The lead is still
increasing, but not too fast. Rabobank and Discovery are unlikely to let riders
of the standard of Totschnig and Garzelli get too far clear. 4.30 now.
12:13 CEST 65km/155.5km to go
The ten leaders
have had a bit of a tailwind so far, but that shouldn't take too much away from
their average speed over the first hour, 50.8 kph, which shows that the chase
has been fairly serious as well.
Chris Horner was a protagonist
in yesterday's almost-successful breakaway. Read what he had to say about it
in his Cyclingnews diary here.
12:19 CEST 70km/150.5km to go
The lead seemed
to have steadied a bit at around four and a half minutes, not enough to pose
a serious threat in view of the terrain up the road (unless birthday boy Stefano
Garzelli or Georg Totschnig are having an absolutely super day, rather than
just trying to make sure they don't get blown right out of contention on the
Port de Pailherčs) but too good to let go easily. But now the chase seems to
have eased and the lead is increasing again, 6.20 now.
12:42 CEST 85km/135.5km to go
The second sprint
was a mirror image of the first, Da Cruz, Gilbert and Grivko, which will have
rocketed Da Cruz from 80th this morning to equal 47th (with Garzelli, as it
happens) in the competition for the green jersey. The gap is still growing,
and from here the terrain changes as we head into the hills of the Aude and
up to the first of four minor climbs, the Col de Villerouge.
12:52 CEST 90km/130.5km to go
The lead has now
topped the 8 minute mark with the leaders coming close to the top of the six-kilometre
drag of the Col de Villerouge and the bunch just starting the climb. Krivtsov
leads Garate and Grivko over the summit for the points.
13:07 CEST 102km/118.5km to go
The second climb
of the day is another fourth-cat job, the 3.3 km Col de Bedos, and it is straight
after the descent from the Villerouge. This time it is Garate who takes the
climb ahead of Garzelli and Beneteau; he is clearly looking for the points today.
The lead is still going up, if slowly; 8.20 at the last check.
13:19 CEST 109km/111.5km to go
The third of these
baby cols is the Col des Fourches, 2.2 km of 4.5%; again it is Garate who takes
the honours ahead of Beneteau and Grivko; these climbs haven't broken the ten-man
group up significantly though, and the climbers will not really want to lose
anyone yet who will be able to help them on the grind up the valley between
this range of hills and the foot of the Port de Pailherčs. Their lead is up
to 8.45 now.
13:30 CEST 115.5km/105km to go
The final climb
of this section of the course is the third-cat Col du Paradis, which the leaders
are now tackling; one rider unlikely to find the name amusing is David Herrero
of Euskaltel who is reported to have been dropped from the main bunch.
The terrain has slowed the average speed of the race now, but not diminished
the levels of effort
13:42 CEST 117km/103.5km to go
Juan Manuel Garate
duly takes the top points on the Col du Paradis - that's 12 points he's picked
up over this section of the course, putting him up to 6th in the mountains classification
just behind Armstrong. The bunch are still around 9 minutes down, and Brad McGee,
who is having a rough time of late, has also been dropped from it.
From here the riders drop down to the valley and the day's main feed in another
20 km or so, and then an hour or so on the flat run up to the foot of the Port
de Pailhčres, where the tough will undoubtedly be getting going.
13:57 CEST 134km/86.5km to go
After a brisk few
kilometres of descending, the leaders have now reached the feed zone at Couiza.
The lead is being held steady on nine minutes now; the leaders' teams have no
real need to chase any harder before the Port de Pailhčres itself, when we will
see what the breakaways' real agendas are - survival or a real stab at a stage
win or pegging back some GC time.
One team we'd have expected to
be seeing more of in the Pyrenees is Liberty Seguros; we spoke to Jörg Jaksche
Are you the team leader now? "We don't work that way.
But as none of the leaders is in front at the moment, neither Beloki nor Heras,
I'm the only one left for GC. In the Pyrenees, I'll try to consolidate my placing,
stay in front."
Which mountain range do you prefer? "I actually
prefer the Alps to the Pyrenees, because they're a little cooler in temperature,
and the climbs are not so steep. I just hope the overall level of performance
will decrease as everybody gets tired."
What's the level like until
now? "Fast and high!"
14:05 CEST 140km/80.5km to go
The lead measured
at the feed zone was 9.35, with the bunch being led by Discovery Channel. The
average speed over the first three hours of the stage has been 44.5 kph, which
puts them a few minutes ahead of the fastest race schedule.
14:15 CEST 150km/70.5km to go
in the break as the race nears their home ground (although this is the Occitan
end of the Pyrenees rather than the Basque end) have sent some riders up to
help Discovery with the chase. The gap is still steady at 9.33, nevertheless.
14:26 CEST 156km/64.5km to go
Some of you have
enquired about the Port de Pailhčres climb, which is not one of the more familiar
names. It's listed as 15.1 km at 8.1% and rated hors catégorie, but Chris
Brewer tells us that although it climbs fairly sharply from the start, it is
the second half of the ascent that defines it: relentless switchbacks that only
increase in steepness as they drive on seemingly ever upward. With about 5km
to go the road narrows to one thin lane and the fans are thick along the roadside.
After the summit it's a very twisting descent to the base of the final climb.
The Pailhčres has only been used once before in the Tour, two years ago, when
Mercado was first over the top. With 20 km to the foot of the climb, the ten
leaders are still around the same distance ahead of the field, 9.42 at last
time of asking.
14:38 CEST 164.5km/56km to go
So, a quick recap
as the long hors d'oeuvre gives way to the main course. There are ten leaders:
Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile Team) and Alexandre Moos (Phonak Hearing Systems),
who are presumably there to provide a springboard/support up the road for their
team leaders, Juan Manuel Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas-Bianchi)
and Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), who are more likely to be looking out for
their own chances of a stage win or a move up the general classification, and
Walter Bénéteau (Bouygues Telecom), Carlos Da Cruz and Philippe Gilbert (Française
Des Jeux), Andrei Grivko (Domina Vacanze) and Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r-Prevoyance)
who are the chancers, up there for whatever prizes and publicity they can pick
up on the way, and/or a bit of a start up the Pailhčres.
FDJ riders in the break make a spectacular pigs ear out of taking a roundabout,
but they are at the back and don't actually hold everyone else up in the process.
It's still Euskaltel orange and Discovery blue at the front of the bunch, and
still a gap of 9.40-something up the road to the break.
14:45 CEST 168.5km/52km to go
The roads are still
flattish (but clearly dragging up), but the terrain is anything but as the bunch
pass through the spectacular St-Georges gorge. As we approach the foot of the
Pailhčres there is plenty of action among the team cars behind both break and
The bunch have pulled a few seconds back, but not anything
that suggests that it's decisive yet.
14:55 CEST 173km/47.5km to go
to be wearing a standard team issue white undervest, being displayed by their
men up the front who are all riding with their orange jerseys flapping.
I suspect that I shall soon have an interesting set of data on the geographical
distribution of the phrase "to make a [right] pig's ear of something". They
screwed up, OK? Not seriously, just all over the place on a simple right-hand
15:03 CEST 176.5km/44km to go
Garate is looking the most nervous of the ten leaders as they approach the foot
of the climb; as they start up the narrow wooded road it is however Alexander
Moos who tries to jump clear first, while Nardello appears to be having a bit
of trouble following. And surprisingly Garate too is not enjoying it.
Behind them T-Mobile have now taken up the pace on the false flat approach to
the climb proper, and have blown a whole lot of riders out the back.
15:05 CEST 178.5km/42km to go
and Beneteau are clear now, with Totschnig and the two Ukrainians chasing together,
and the others are back down the road somewhere.
The T-Mobile assault is doing serious
damage, both in front and behind. Guerini is setting the pace with Vino on his
wheel, and suddenly there is a group of 5 clear, with Armstrong the only Discovery
Rasmussen gets up to them too. There is complete carnage
behind, Heras, Mayo, Brochard, Menchov all shelled out.
Rasmussen, Basso, Mancebo, Ullrich,
Armstrong, Vinokourov are all together. Hincapie is leading a bunch of Discovery
riders to ride tempo and hold the gap, with Moreau with them.
The pace drops and a few more riders
make the gap, then Basso attacks, The pace lifts, and then Vino goes, and Armstrong
Ullrich gets across the gap, as does
Ullrich, Vino, Basso and Kashechkin
are together. Rasmussen and Mancebo are back with Armstrong and trying to get
across. But now Armstrong counterattacks alone!
Armstrong has bridged the gap, along
with Landis; now it is Rasmussen and Mancebo who are the riders in a bit of
Rasmussen is glued to Mancebo's wheel,
with Leipheimer also trying to bridge the gap; it looks as though it's coming
back together now. BUt these are only the lower slopes of the penultimate climb...
BAsso puts more pressure on.
The leaders are still six minutes ahead,
but Beneteau is dropped; just Garzelli and Totschnig there now.
Armstrong, Ullrich and Kashechkin
go with Basso, and Vinokourov is in trouble now, losing touch with Mancebo,
Evans, Leipheimer and Rasmussen who are grinding back up to them.
That group comes back together, then
Basso attacks again, and the pattern repeats - Ullrich follows, then Armstrong,
then Landis. Rasmussen and Mancebo are inseparable twins, riding tempo rather
than reacting to each jump. Klöden is with them.
Vinokourov clearly went too deep
too early and seems to be going irredeemably backwards now. Rasmussen and Mancebo
have also lost half a minute, Vino is behind them.
Ahead Garzelli and Totschnig are
setting a good steady pace, but all the attention is on the quartet of Armstrong,
Basso, Landis and Ullrich. Other members of the former break are drifting backwards
through the race and confusing the picture.
15:29 CEST 185.5km/35km to go
The two leaders
are now on the hairpins on the top half of the climb.
Kashechkin is hanging in there with
Evans, Mancebo and Rasmussen. The whole situation has to be described as somewhat
Vino is climbing alone, not blown, but suffering.
Armstrong is riding tempo now; he doesn't want Rasmussen or Mancebo back.
Totschnig has ridden half a minute
clear of birthday boy Garzelli now. Moos tried to stay with Landis as the Armstrong
group caught him, but couldn't for long; Nardello is next to be caught and he
is putting a dig in for Ullrich now.
Popovych is reported as being a couple
of minutes behind Armstrong et al. Moos has clawed his way back to the Armstrong
group but not for long.
Zubeldia has now got up to the Rasmussen-Mancebo
Georg Totschnig has 3 km to go to
the summit. The road is narrow and these hairpins are not the sort that have
been re-engineered for tourist buses either, with wicked gradients around the
Vinokourov and Kashechkin are just about getting up to the
Rasmussen and Mancebo group. Almost but not quite, and Mancebo lifts the pace
and they are gapped again.
The Armstrong group and the Rasmussen
groups have both swollen to seven riders each, with Leipheimer making it up
to Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso and Landis, and Moos and Nardello joining from
the opposite direction. And now Nardello is dropped but Garate has been caught.
The gap between the Armstrong group
and the Rasmussen group is now almost a minute, with Vino dropped further once
Another apparent loser is Christophe Moreau, who is three and
a half minutes behind Armstrong in company with Michael Boogerd and Bobby Julich.
15:49 CEST 29km/191.5km to go
Totschnig is now
into the final kilometre of the climb, riding a steady tempo alone with a musette
over his shoulder - not needing to match anyone else's pace makes it look a
little easier for him. He crests the summit and sets out on the very technical
descent to the foot of the final climb.
From the ten-man breakaway that started
the climb, only Totschnig and Garzelli have stayed clear to the top. Armstrong,
Ullrich, Landis, Basso and Leipheimer come over 3.47 down, and 4.27 for Mancebo,
Evans, Klöden, Zubeldia and Rasmussen - they could well get back on the descent.
The descent is steep, narrow and winding right from the top. And bumpy.
16:05 CEST 205.5km/15km to go
The final climb
to what used to be the Plateau de Bonascre and is now Ax-3-Domaines - the wonders
of ski station branding - kicks up straight from the foot of this descent (the
leaders are down below the tree line now, but nobody seems to be trying anything
rash). Totschnig could stay clear here, depending on how lively it gets behind.
The Rasmussen-Mancebo group has caught up the Armstrong group on the descent,
so they have managed that well. Vinokourov too is descending alone and will
probably get up there too. He's in the cars now.
16:09 CEST 210.5km/10km to go
Totschnig has reached
the foot of the descent at Ax-les-Thermes, then it's hang a left over the river
and onto the last climb. All done very stylishly.
Vino has the back
of the Armstrong group just ahead of him now; he'll make it across, but not
have any recovery time. He's brought some bottles up for Ullrich and Klöden
16:14 CEST 213.5km/7km to go
short final climb is crowded from the very start, and the Austrian is setting
a good pace, though even he can't make the early 11% pitch look easy.
The Armstrong group starts the climb and Vinokourov jumps clear to up the pace,
then drops back as Klöden takes the front.
Evans is dropped.
The group is splitting now, Vinokourov
has done what he can and is being dropped. Still Klöden and Ullrich leading.
Zubeldia is playing the accordion at the back now. This pace is not good news
Armstrong is clearly not having a
good day because he's getting out of the saddle a lot, maybe having back problems.
He is definitely suffering today, although not badly enough to lose yellow,
as Rasmussen seems to be worse.
Basso and Landis are first in line
behind the two T-mobile riders, then Armstrong, Mancebo, Leipheimer and Rasmussen.
Totschnig is on one of the easier sections now, and last clocked at just under
4 minutes ahead - it *might* be enough.
Zubeldia is dropped.
Basso accelerates and Ullrich, then
Armstrong are straight on his wheel, Leipheimer, then Landis make it up, bur
Rasmussen and Mancebo are distanced again.
One kilometre to go
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
Landis and Leipheimer are having
trouble as Basso, Ullrich and Armstrong catch Beneteau who has done a lot of
work for not much return.
Landis and Leipheimer get back on,
then Basso accelerates again and they are both dropped once again.
Rasmussen and MAncebo are a quart of a minute behind them.
is still 3 minutes up, 4 km from the finish. If he gets this he deserves it.
Garzelli is now only a minute ahead of Basso, Armstrong and Ullrich, though.
Garzelli is caught - Armstrong is
now leading the trio. Rasmussen and Mancebo have dropped Klöden now.
Basso takes up the front under the
4 km banner, then Jan Ullrich, but they are not attacking any more, but trying
to ride the rest of the race out of the podium places. Totschnig now has just
2.11 lead over the trio with 3 km to go, but the final km is more or less flat.
Rasmussen and Mancebo are 35 seconds
behind Armstrong, Ullrich and Basso now, keeping the pace steady and limiting
their losses wisely.
The big three are balked somewhat
by a fan with a massive Colombian flag. All three are riding with their jerseys
open in the backing heat. Ullrich is clearly having a little more trouble hanging
on than the other two.
Armstrong ups the pace a bit.
Totschnig reaches the prime line
at the top of the climb and has just 900 metres to go.
is blown out by Armstrong's acceleration, but Basso is still with him.
Totschnig comes up the finishing
straight, having been out in front for over 200 km. Too knackered to do his
jersey up, even. An excellent ride, that should not be overshadowed by the shenanigans
Armstrong leads out for second and Basso can't do anything
about it, and the Texan takes second a few lengths clear, 56 seconds down on
Totschnig. Ullrich comes in puffing to limit his losses to a large handful of
seconds, then Leipheimer and Landis together half a minute down on Armstrong
for fifth and sixth, then Mancebo and Rasmussen at 45 seconds - they haven't
looked at their best, but they have avoided disaster and Rasmussen will still
be in second place overall and the spotty jersey. Klöden, Zubeldia, Vinokourov
and Garzelli follow up. The biggest loser on GC seems to be Christophe Moreau,
who will have dropped from third to tenth.
Thanks for following the
stage with us on cyclingnews today - join us again tomorrow for the Grande
étape pyrenéen from Lézat-sur-Lčze to St-Lary-Soulan.
1 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 5.43.43
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 0.56
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 0.58
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 1.16
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.31
6 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 1.47
8 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 2.06
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 2.20
11 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 3.06
12 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 3.35
General classification after stage 14
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 55.58.17
2 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 1.41
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 2.46
4 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.34
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 4.45
6 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 5.03
7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5.38
9 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 7.09
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 8.37
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