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Le Tour 2001

89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Main page    Stage profile    Start List    Results

Stage 12 - Friday July 19: Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille, 198 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 10:50 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:55 CEST

10:48 CEST    
Welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the Tour's grande étape pyrénnéenne, 198 km with four first and second category cols and a second consecutive hors catégorie summit finish at Plateau de Beille.

The weather is much as it was yesterday, with temperatures in the mid to high 20s and clear skies. The extra distance compared with yesterday and the dominance of the US Postal team may mean that we get a less hectic start to the stage, but you never can tell. The first feature on the bill will be the bonus sprint at Loures-Barousse after 28 km which is likely to be another episode in the Robbie versus Erik match for the green jersey; McEwen needs to make up a deficit of 3 points to catch his rival.

11:08 CEST    
The 176 surviving riders have made a steady start, far more relaxed than yesterday with no early attacks. Before the start the riders mostly seemed rather subdued, the US Postal team were clearly happy although Floyd Landis is looking a bit dour; he had a bad day yesterday and is expecting no better today, he told us. Johan Bruyneel said that they would be looking not to attack in strength but to consolidate Armstrong's position by "a selection at the back of the group" on the final climb.

11:31 CEST    16 km/182 km to go
The pace is still very gentle with no attacks; a few Telekom and Lotto riders have moved to the front of the field in view of the first sprint in another 15 km. The day's second sprint follows after the first two cols of the day, the Mente and the Portet d'Aspet; it looks quite likely that the field will stay more or less together over that so the green jersey struggle may well continue there as well.

All yesterday's finishers started this morning except for lanterne rouge Luca Pagliarini; crash victims Jens Voigt, Brad McGee and Karsten Kroon are all continuing. The worst affected of yesterday's victims was CSC's Michael Sandstød; the Danish champion broke 8 ribs and is still under observation in hospital; his condition was described as "comfortable", which is probably somewhat relative.

11:52 CEST    28 km/170 km to go
The peloton is still rolling fairly gently, but Hondo and Fagnini have moved alongside Zabel; there are four Lotto riders up there too, including de Clercq and Marichal.

Lotto form a train and up the pace. McEwen comes out with Zabel on his wheel; Zabel can't catch him, and they cross the line in that order with O'Grady third. That brings McEwen back up to one point behind Zabel; now it depends on how things go over the first couple of climbs, where Zabel definitely has the edge.

12:03 CEST    38 km/160 km to go
After the sprint four riders go clear: Richard Virenque is obviously after doing something on what has always been his favourite terrain; Christophe Oriol (AG2R), Paul Van Hyfte (CSC - Tiscali) and Addy Engels (Rabobank) have gone with him and now have a quarter of a minute's lead over a lined out bunch being towed by US Postal and Jean Delatour, defending Patrice Halgand's mountains jersey.

A touch of wheels in the bunch brings down Peter Luttenberger.

12:09 CEST    40 km/158 km to go
Coming up to the foot of the Col de Menté Christophe Oriol has left his three companions, who have been caught by the bunch, who have eased up a little now that Virenque is no longer up the road. He now has 45 seconds lead.

12:16 CEST    47 km/151 km to go
As the road starts to pitch upwards for Oriol he already has a lead of 2.25. Behind the bunch are looking grim faced.

Jalabert counter-attacks from the bunch and is rapidly joined by Virenque and Halgand - the three contenders for the spotty jersey.

Santiago Blanco and Jalabert's team-mate Sastre come across to the trio; behind there is a scattering of riders trying to bridge the gap; US Postal are taking it steady not far behind.

In a second acceleration Jalabert rides all but Halgand off his wheel.

12:28 CEST    49 km/149 km to go
A group of eight or nine riders forms and catches up with Jalabert and Halgand, but Jalabert puts the pressure on again and leaves them. Virenque has fallen back to the bunch, but the group behind Jalabert includes Oscar Sevilla, Alexandr Botcharov.

Oriol is still 1.50 ahead of Jalabert. Behind them the main bunch led by a cluster of dark blue jerseys and a yellow one is shedding a large number of riders. Jalabert doesn't want to ride alone and looks back and gestures at the riders behind him to get a move on.

12:31 CEST    50 km/148 km to go
Jalabert gets no joy from those behind him and he carries on alone, opening the gap behind and closing on Oriol who is 1.05 ahead. David Etxebarria is trying to chase Jalabert, while the group of nine looks in danger of being swept up by the bunch.

12:38 CEST    51 km/147 km to go
Etxebarria is joined by Beat Zberg (Rabobank), Isidro Nozal (ONCE) and Eddy Mazzoleni (Tacconi). Oriol is still a minute clear of Jalabert as he passes the plaque commemorating Luis Ocaña's crash that robbed him of the maillot jaune in the 1971 tour.

Erik Zabel is reported to be in the main bunch with Armstrong; it's not clear whether McEwen has been able to sustain that pace. Botcharov gets across to the Etxebarria group. Oriol is holding his ground from the bunch with about 2 minutes, but Jalabert is closing on him, definitely the fastest man on the climb.

12:45 CEST    54.5 km/144 km to go
The steady Oriol passes the summit of the col alone, 35 seconds ahead of Jalabert will be the leader in the mountains classification, making up his 9 point deficit on Halgand. Behind, mountain bike star Miguel Martinez (Mapei) has got across to the Etxebarria/Zberg group and is driving it along.

Zabel is dropped by the Armstrong group along with, surprisingly, Halgand. Eddy Mazzoleni leads the first chasing group over the summit.

12:53 CEST    62 km/136 km to go
McEwen passes the top of the Menté in a large group of stragglers five minutes down on Oriol, three minutes behind the groupe maillot jaune, which Zabel has managed to get back to on the descent.

Jalabert's closest competitor in the mountains competition is now David Etxebarria, 25 points behind. Jalabert continues to close on Oriol on the winding, technical descent; on the lower section the roads are lined with stone walls that would make misjudging a corner a decidedly bad move.

Jalabert catches Oriol near the foot of the descent.

13:04 CEST    
Leaving Couledoux (for those following the race on the map) the leading pair set out up the shorter but steeper Col de Portet d'Aspet, with two minutes lead on the first chasing group who are not far in front of the Armstrong bunch, which has swelled to about 100 riders on the descent.

There is no time for the riders to stop at the memorial stone at the site where Fabio Casartelli was killed descending this climb in the 1995 tour, but there will be a few eyes looking left as they pass.

13:07 CEST    68 km/130 km to go
Jalabert has eased up on the climb in order not to lose Oriol; the chasing group has grown with Virenque and Laurent Dufaux joining it, and has come back to just over a minute behind Jalabert, with Dufaux setting the pace; in fact he sets a pace hard enough that only Nozal and Zberg can follow; Martinez is fighting hard to get back, though.

13:11 CEST    69 km/129 km to go
Oriol has trouble holding Jalabert at a kilometre from the summit of the col, but Jalabert eases again to wait from him for a moment, but Dufaux and Nozal, having dropped Zberg, appear from behind and Jalabert lifts it again to stay clear for the summit. Oriol tries valiantly to hang onto Dufaux and Nozal, but the effort is too much.

13:16 CEST    70 km/128 km to go
Jalabert picks up 20 more spotty jersey points at the top of the climb, with Dufaux leading Nozal over a few seconds behind, and the three come together a couple of hairpins down. Oriol may catch them on the descent, but he looked cooked. The US Postal team lead a strung-out bunch of around a hundred riders over 2.41 down on the leading trio.

13:21 CEST    73 km/125 km to go
Oriol is caught by his teammate Alexandr Bocharov on the descent; the pair are 35 seconds down on the three leaders. Jalabert opens up a gap on the descent a few times but waits for the others.

13:28 CEST    83 km/115 km to go
Approaching the more or less irrelevant bonus sprint at Orgibet it seems clear that Nozal is not going to work with Dufaux and Jalabert.

Behind them Oriol seems to have done all he can for Bocharov who drops him; shortly afterwards, however, the little Russian climber is joined by the other half of the chasing group with Oriol hanging on. These seven - Virenque, Etxebarria, Zberg, Martinez, Bocharov, Oriol and Mazzoleni - are at 1.20 from the three leaders with the big bunch another two minutes behind, led by seven US Postal vests.

13:45 CEST    92 km/106 km to go
After a few kilometres of valley road with the day's feed at Argein, the three leaders reach the foot of the Col de la Core with 2.20 on the seven chasers and 4.40 over the main bunch, where the yellow jersey decides to answer a call of nature dangerously close to the region's drinking water supply.

Etxebarria loses contact with his group almost immediately at the food of the climb. In front, Dufaux sets the pace.

A small exchange of fisticuffs takes place between Moreau and Sastre at the front of the bunch. Not likely to impress the commissaires ...

13:53 CEST    96 km/102 km to go
Etxebarria gets back with the chasing group, but in turn it is Oriol to pay the price for his earlier efforts and be dropped. Ahead it is still Dufaux in his characteristic style who is driving the lead trio.

For trivia lovers: the chasing group includes the two shortest riders in the race - Davide Etxebarria and Miguel Martinez, and the lightest, Alexandr Bocharov.

Oriol is caught by the bunch.

14:06 CEST    102 km/96 km to go
Virenque drives on the chasing group, putting Etxebarria, Zberg and Martinez in difficulties. Their gap to the front three is more or less stable at 2.35, but the US Postal train is bringing the bunch back up; they are now back under 4 minutes from the leaders. A group or twenty of thirty riders at least has been dropped from the bunch, now down to sixty or so riders.

14:19 CEST    105 km/93 km to go
Etxebarria and Zberg have been caught by the still fifty strong bunch. At a kilometre from the top as the climb comes out into open country, the three leaders still have 2.30 lead on the three remaining chasers but the bunch is only three quarters of a minute behind them.

The temperature is climbing, now - it is over 30°C at the foot of the finish climb and not much less at the top - and many of the riders (including almost all of the US Postal train) are climbing unzipped to the waist.

14:21 CEST    106 km/92 km to go
Jalabert crests the Col de la Core first ahead of Dufaux and Nozal and takes another 30 points for the spotty jersey. From here there is a 15 km descent on which they should be able to pull away a bit further.

Laurent Jalabert
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Virenque takes fourth ahead of Mazzoleni and Bocharov, 2.45 behind. The bunch comes through at 4.11, led by US Postal. It is mostly Victor Hugo Peña who has been leading the train; we spoke to him this morning; he was very cheerful about the team's performance the day before and their prospects for today. He thought that Armstrong was more relaxed than in previous years, but still sharply focused.

14:40 CEST    119.5 km/78.5 km to go
Miguel Martinez makes the best of his mountain-biking skills and gets back with Bocharov, Virenque and Mazzoleni on the outskirts of Seix, nearly at the foot of the descent. Similarly, riders dropped from the main bunch are coming back, as you would expect.

The chasers are still marooned at 2.42 and the bunch is at 4.16

14:50 CEST    130 km/68 km to go
Virenque decides that as the chasers are making no impression it isn't worth continuing, and sits up at the beginning of the 20 km of valley road between Seix and Massat, where the day's penultimate climb, the Col de Port, starts. Bocharov also seems resigned, and Mazzoleni continues alone. However, the three leaders are gaining ground again and their lead over the bunch has increased abruptly to 5.38 - Laurent Jalabert is now in fact very close to being maillot jaune virtuel, the leader on the road.

15:01 CEST    136 km/62 km to go
The US Postal train of Padrnos, Ekimov, Peña, Landis and Hincapie puts the pressure back on and they bring the gap back down under five minutes. Mazzoleni is still out there somewhere in no-man's-land. Serpellini brings Raimondas Rumsas up tot he front of the bunch, which is now well lined out.

15:07 CEST    140 km/58 km to go
We've had quite a few enquiries as to where various riders are; all we can say is that most of the big names are still in the 70 strong bunch being towed along by US Postal; Zabel and McEwen are both now back in some autobus group behind, though.

The leaders have reached Massat at the foot of the second-category Col de Port. Mazzoleni has been swept up by the bunch, last signalled at 4.41 behind.

Heras moves up to talk tactics with Armstrong; today the US Postal team are much more ostentatiously massed all together at the front of the race. When they reach the foot of the climb in turn the gap is up to 5.03, with Jalabert making the pace ahead this time.

15:19 CEST    146 km/52 km to go
Kivilev, Moreau (who, I would have said, stands a good chance of being on the plane home tonight after his boxing match earlier) and Basso are riding well up with Armstrong on the climb. Meanwhile both Etxebarria are among the first riders dropped. The gap is stable at 5.07; it is still US Postal's roueurs like Padrnos and Hincapie who are setting a pace up the climb that is putting riders who are supposed to be climbers into difficulties.

15:26 CEST    150 km/48 km to go
Laurent Jalabert and Laurent Dufaux are still doing bit and bit on the wooded climb with 4 km to the summit, with Isidro Nozal sitting resolutely on their wheels. The gap is still stable at 5.00 ahead of a bunch which has lost a few riders - Stuart O'Grady is yo-yoing off the back now - still being towed along by all nine US Postal riders.

15:44 CEST    44 km/154 km to go
At the summit of the Col de Port it is again Jalabert ahead of Dufaux and Nozal; 4.40 or so behind Axel Merckx leads out Virenque to take fourth place, outsprinting Sastre who was trying to keep his score down to protect Jalabert's position in the mountains competition.

Over the top of the climb Virenque, Merckx and Wadecki (Domo) and Sastre and Peron (CSC) try to open a gap on the descent.

15:57 CEST    29 km/169 km to go
Konecny and Merckx leave the other three to be caught by the bunch, and are at 4.10 from the three leaders, with the main bunch, still seventy or so riders together, half a minute further down.

Nozal has still not taken a turn at the front as the leaders turn out onto the main road at Tarascon-sur-Ariège.

Merckx sits up leaving his team-mate to continue the chase alone.

Fabien de Waele (Mapei) has packed.

16:03 CEST    178 km/20 km to go
After the descent normal service resumes in the peloton, after a few minutes of excitement when there were jerseys in some colour other than blue at the front. Victor Hugo Peña is riding himself into the ground to keep the tempo up; it looks as though they are just going to ride tempo until there is nobody left. If yesterday is anything to go by, Jalabert or Dufaux need more than the 4.18 they now have to have any prospect of staying away on the fierce final climb.

Of course, Nozal in front may be there to work as support up the road for Beloki rather than merely on his own account.

Konecny has showed the team colours for a few minutes and is now caught again.

16:11 CEST    182 km/16 km to go
As they start the final "hors categorie" climb, the three leaders have been pegged back to 3. 17 up the valley of the Ariège and their chances now seem to have vanished.

A quick note for somebody who enquired about the meaning of "hors catégorie" - literally "out of category"; once upon a time the hardest climbs of the race each had its own separate points scale; they were thus not in a standard category (1st, 2nd, 3rd. 4th ..). These climbs were then given a standard points scale of their own, but the "hors catégorie" labelling has passed into French as an idiomatic phrase for the biggest or best of anything, so they somewhat absurdly stuck with the name, so we have a "no category" category of climbs.

16:15 CEST    15 km/183 km to go
The crowds up the climb where Pantani started his fight back to take the 1998 Tour from Ullrich has crowds all the way down to the bottom.

As the bunch hit the climb led by Floyd Landis they already have the leaders back to 2.45. The ONCE riders move up fast, but the first move comes from Wladimir Belli (Fassa Bortolo).

16:16 CEST    183 km/15 km to go
The 16 km climb where Pantani started his fight back to take the 1998 Tour from Ullrich has crowds all the way down to the bottom.

As the bunch hit the climb led by Floyd Landis they already have the leaders back to 2.45. The ONCE riders move up fast, but the first move comes from Wladimir Belli (Fassa Bortolo).

16:18 CEST    
Belli is caught and then it is the turn of ONCE's Marcos Serrano to attack; he opens a five second gap with apparent ease. Are ONCE trying to get helpers for Beloki up the road in front?

Laiseka, Virenque, Moreau, Zberg and Frigo are all dropped quickly.

Julich, Cuesta and Chaurreau are also dropped as Serrano is caught.

16:23 CEST    185 km/13 km to go
Up ahead, Jalabert turns up the pressure and rides away from Nozal and Dufaux; Nozal tries to follow, Dufaux settles to his own pace.

Botero, Beloki, and Rumsas are all looking OK with Armstrong's pace for the moment; Armstrong still has two helpers, but there are five ONCE vests massed around them.

Ivan Basso is dropped; Nozal looking good for the white jersey.

16:28 CEST    188 km/10 km to go
Leipheimer, Hamilton and Merckx are dropped from the yellow jersey group. Armstrong is riding his characteristic low gear; Botero is out of the saddle much of the time on this 9% stretch (this climb is fairly even in gradient until the last 4 km where it flattens out.

Dufaux catches and passes Nozal, and then Nozal is caught by the Armstrong group which is now down to 13 men (Sevilla last notable victim). Rubiera is leading the group.

16:31 CEST    
Dufaux is caught by the Armstrong group and shelled out immediately, in the company of Unai Osa. José Azevedo cannot hold the pace; Jalabert's lead is down to 20 seconds. Rubiera is setting the pace as they catch Jalabert just like yesterday; Heras is riding further back, marking Beloki. Jalabert doesn't try to match the pace and just sits up to potter up in bottom gear; he will have the mountains jersey by a good margin.

16:38 CEST    
The yellow jersey group, now at the front of the race is now down to 11: still Rubiera setting the pace, Botero, Beloki and Igor González side by side behind Armstrong, Heras watching them, followed by Kivilev, Rumsas, Sastre and Stèphane Goubert bringing up the rear.

16:41 CEST    192 km/6 km to go
Rubiera picks up the pace before he makes way for Roberto Heras, and Kivilev, Goubert and Serrano cannot hold the pace. Then suddenly there is just Heras and Beloki with the yellow jersey. Them Armstrong just dances away, and Heras watches Beloki, who fights to hold the gap steady; they are ten seconds behind.

16:47 CEST    193 km/5 km to go
Beloki is still fighting hard but at the 5 km banner the gap is up to 16 seconds, and shortly after that Heras jumps him.

16:50 CEST    194 km/4 km to go
At the 4 km banner Heras is closing on Armstrong, but Beloki has fallen back to 25 seconds. Behind these three the gaps are going to be pretty big ...

16:54 CEST    195 km/3 km to go
Heras eases up after the climb evens out for a kilometre or two. It seems like he can't close the gap to Armstrong quickly enough and gives Beloki someone to chase. He had a chance for a one-two but he (or Bruyneel) left it too late to drop the ONCE rider on the steeper part of the climb. Beloki goes deep to remain in contact - saliva spills from his mouth as he rides hard to minimise the time losses to Armstrong, already at 39 seconds. He catches a softer-pedalling Heras who sits on.

16:57 CEST    197 km/1 km to go
Armstrong is going to take the stage very comfortably; it is clear that his strongest opponent is in his own team; good business tactics but less interesting from a sporting point of view.

Botero and Igor González de Galdeano are together another half minute behind Beloki and Heras.

17:01 CEST    
Armstrong comes in, both arms aloft. Heras comes off Beloki's wheel for an easy second over half a minute down - there are time bonuses to be mopped on all stages this year.

Botero and Gonzalez come in together at 1.10-ish, followed by Rumsas a few seconds later, and then the rest, in dribs and drabs.

Several minutes behind, Franck Rénier, with the red body number of the most combative rider (well, "most aggressive rider", we used to say round my way), catches up with Laurent Jalabert, pats him on the back and symbolically offers him the number. They finish together with Bobby Julich at 11.30, for the biggest applause for anyone since the undisputed winner.

Contrary to my forecasts Ivan Basso hangs on to the white jersey for the best young rider. Laurent Jalabert is of course the new leader in the mountains classification, 68 points clear of his closest competitor, somebody called Armstrong, so he will almost certainly keep it for a few days. Zabel hangs on to the green jersey by one point; tomorrow is a day for the sprinters, but there are a few small cols before the bonus sprints and the flat finale.

Thanks for following this stage with Cyclingnews.com - we hope to see you back with us for tomorrow's stage, which takes the riders across to Béziers before Sunday's third summit finish on the feared Mont Ventoux.

Result (provisional)

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service           6.00.29 (33.31 km/h)
2 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service      1.04
3 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski
4 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca             1.11
5 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski
6 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                 1.23
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Tiscali                      1.33
8 Marcos A.Serrano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                   1.37
9 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca               2.07
10 Andrei Kivilev (Kaz) Cofidis                        2.39

General classification after stage 12

1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service          46.47.47
2 Joseba Beloki (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                      2.28
3 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski          3.19
4 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                 5.15
5 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca             5.44
6 Marcos A.Serrano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski                   7.14
7 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) US Postal Service      8.01
8 José Azevedo (Por) ONCE-Eroski                       8.24
9 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca               9.05
10 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com                9.10


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