Home Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  
Tour home
Live coverage
Start list
Stages & results
Map & profiles
Tour diaries
Features & tech
Tour history

Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003

Main page    Stage profile    Teams and riders    Latest live report (auto-refresh)    Results

Commentary by Roger Hughes and Chris Henry, with additional reporting by Jeff Jones, Tim Maloney, and Gabriella Ekström

Stage 13 - Saturday, July 19: Toulouse (Cité de l'Espace) - Plateau de Bonascre, 197.5 km

Complete Live Report

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 11:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

11:46 CEST    
Starting from Toulouse's ultramodern Cité de l'Espace aerospace centre, Stage 13 heads south towards the Pyrenees across the verdant Ariege region, into the lands of the Cathars. The final destination for the stage is the ski station Axe-3-Domaines, at the top of the Plateau du Bonascre, with the steep Port de Pailhères climb as an appetizer.

The Tour arrives in the Pyrenees for three consecutive stages that are likely to decide the race. Last time the Tour arrived at Bonascre, the opportunistic Colombian Felix Cardenas of Kelme took the stage win.

With the race situation as it is, Lance Armstrong is more or less obliged to attack in the mountains in order to regain a margin of safety before the time trial on the penultimate stage. Although Jan Ullrich will probably be riding defensively to counter that, we can also expect fireworks from the Euskaltel "twins" Iban Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia, and Alexandr Vinokourov (Telekom) too has everything to gain by attacking.

Stage 13 Climbs

Km 168.5: Port de Pailhères (15.5km @ 7.8%)
Km 197.5: Plateau du Bonascre (9.1km @ 7.2%)

The official start has been given and the riders are off for their first day in the Pyrenees. The weather today is more of the same: hot and sunny. The wind was picking up a bit at the start and the race may get a slight tailwind for much of the day.

The crowds at today's start were quite big, and more people turned out than at yesterday's time trial.

The day's first breakaway attempts have started, with the usual flurry of attacks right from kilometre 0, but so far nothing has succeeded. Notably, Ullrich's Bianchi team have been policing the situation. A crash in the peloton has brought down a few riders, including Lotto's Rik Verbrugghe, who is not having the best of Tours.

12:02 CEST    
As the peloton gets underway, a Tour tradition has just taken place, with a slightly unexpected ending. Several fans on horseback set off in a field alongside the road, matching the cyclists' speed. While tempting the riders to race the horses, one woman on horseback fell off. "Chute!" yelled the French TV commentators, indicating a crash. The horseback rider appeared to be ok and the race has gone on its way.

12:22 CEST    26 km/171.5 km to go
The start has been animated, and both Bianchi and US Postal have been busy chasing down attacks. There will be another three or four hours riding before we reach the two climbs at the end of the stage, but it seems that the combination of a couple of bonus sprints (at 41 and 93 km) and the prospect of getting a bit of a start on the climbs is enough to get a few people going.

A break of 10 finally gets its act together and they are 18 seconds up the road. And for the first time we see a change in US Postal tactics, as José Rubiera is one of the riders in it. They move clear fairly rapidly.

12:38 CEST    
Green jersey holder Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) is hoping to hang tough in the mountains and preserve his points competition lead. "My climbing legs should be fine," he told Cyclingnews at the start. "I think there will be a fairly big time limit today, so I'm not too worried."

12:40 CEST    41 km/156.5 km to go
At the first sprint it is Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) who takes the six points on offer, ahead of FDJeux.com's "policeman" Carlos Da Cruz, who is responsible for mopping up points on behlf of green jersey Baden Cooke; Evergreen Laurent Brochard (AG2R) is third.

The rest of the breakaway: José Rubiera (US Postal), Ludovic Turpin (AG2R), Alessandro Bertolini (Alessio), Markus Zberg and Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano (ONCE) and Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto).

The chase is being led by Brioches La Boulangère now, with US Postal behind them.

12:47 CEST    
The peloton has shut down the chase for now, and the break's gap has gone up quickly. US Postal is at the front, practically coasting and taking it easy. Just like that the break has picked up another minute.

12:52 CEST    
Even if the peloton has turned off the gas, the break has had a quick start to the stage, averaging over 45 km/h. The race is being helped along be a slight tailwind coming from the northwest and the temperature is up to 31 degrees.

12:55 CEST    
Euskaltel-Euskadi's Roberto Laiseka (15th overall at 9'43"), a former stage winner in the Pyrenees, told Cyclingnews that he is looking forward to the mountains once again.

"I'm feeling good today, but there will be an early break, and that might be a bit beyond my control. If I get a chance, I will try to do something."

13:05 CEST    
Thor Hushovd leads the break
Photo: © J. Jones/CN

13:11 CEST    
The gap between the break and the peloton had stabilised for a bit, but has now jumped up another minute to 7'22". US Postal remains at the head of the peloton, keeping a steady tempo but not chasing.

13:20 CEST    71 km/126.5 km to go
Telekom's Giuseppe Guerini checked in with Cyclingnews this morning with his thoughts on today's stage. "I'm not too bad, but the stage will be hard. I will go with Vinokourov at first, and then we'll see what happens, maybe I'll get a chance to do something on my own."

13:30 CEST    
In the break, Alessandro Bertolini is spending a great deal of time fiddling with his helmet radio, with repeated visits to his team car. Finally he gives up and gives it back to his team manager.

The gap is up to 8.36; the bunch is reasonably strung out as they wind their way southwards towards the mountains looming on the horizon.

13:35 CEST    
Jan's fans, growing in number
Photo: © J. Jones/CN
The US Postal camp was a bit surprised by the big performance of Jan Ullrich in yesterday's time trial. Directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel spoke to Cyclingnews this morning outside the team bus and offered his reactions to the big day, where Armstrong kept his race lead but lost substantial time to Ullrich.

"Today we're going to see what's going on after the time trial, how everyone's recovered," Bruyneel said. "We especially have to see how Ullrich is in the mountains. Clearly, Alexandre Vinokourov and Jan Ullrich are our main competition now, since the two Spanish climbers (Zubeldia, Mayo of Euskaltel-Euskadi) lost four and a half minutes yesterday.

"It was clearly not a great day yesterday for Lance," Bruyneel admitted.

13:39 CEST    80 km/117.5 km to go
The gap is starting to come back a bit now, falling to 8.08 as the race approaches the second bonus sprint with the Saeco team now taking up the chase; maybe Simoni has ideas about the stage? The break are still working steadily, however, with Rubiera sitting on the back as policeman.

13:50 CEST    104.5 km/93 km to go
Di Luca's not at his best
Photo: © J. Jones/CN
At the second bonus sprint it is once more Hushovd who takes it ahead of Da Cruz, moving him up into third place in the green jersey classification, overtaking Zabel and O'Grady. Da Cruz has not been as successful in denying points to him (to protect Baden Cooke's lead) as he was when doing the same job with Stuart O'Grady on Thursday's stage to Toulouse. Bertolini picks up the consolation prize.

Behind them the bunch is lined out, clearly moving very quickly, with Saeco doing the work; at the back it is their own Danilo Di Luca who is having trouble hanging on to the pace.

14:09 CEST    105.5 km/92 km to go
The terrain is getting harsher (although the race is still sticking to the valleys), the pace is hotting up (Di Luca is definitively dropped, and FDJeux.com's Sandy Casar is in trouble).

Danilo Di Luca revealed that it hasn't been a good Tour so far for Saeco, and that he is not in top form. "I will try to get in an early break," he told Cyclingnews before today's start, "but I haven't been feeling too good because basically the whole team has had digestive problems."

Ullrich has stopped beside the road for a call of nature, just before the feed, and is being brought back up by his team. Here's hoping that it's nothing major in the way of digestive problems.

14:21 CEST    117.5 km/80 km to go
Mikel Astarloza drops back a long way for a wheel change. The red Saeco train - reminiscent of the somewhat missed Mario Cipollini in other years and other terrain - is still stringing the bunch out.

Di Luca has retired, the second Italian out today after Alessio's Pietro Caucchioli did not start.

14:37 CEST    122.5 km/75 km to go
The race has been riding a long false flat bringing them to the top of the uncategorised Col du Portel, and Saeco have been making it hurt a bit, although they have not been making much ground on the break for a while. A brisk descent down into the little town of Quillan and then we have 30 km of very gradual climbing alongside the river Aude before reaching the foot of the first category Port de Pailhères. After the green fields and deciduous woods of the morning, we are now into a deep gorge, the overhanging rocks providing a bit of shelter from the sun.

The Pyrenees have, over the years, provided the Tour with some of its worst weather, but it looks for the moment as though we are going to have more hot, clear days. It will be interesting to see how this affects the riders, particularly Armstrong (who seems to relish the rain) and Ullrich (who is definitely happier in the sunshine - yesterday he thought it was just about perfect for him).

Nine of the ten breakaways are still working steadily, with Rubiera waiting behind them, perhaps to provide a springboard for an Armstrong attack?

14:54 CEST    133.5 km/64 km to go
At the village of Axat the ten breakaways still have more than 6 minutes lead; behind them the bunch is not completely lined out but still fairly stretched with a single file of red Saeco vests follow by a line of blue US POstal ones. Lance Armstrong's yellow jersey is viible not far back; he is lifting himself out of the saddle quite frequently, maybe (just maybe) a bit nervously. Whatever else happens now, it's going to be a hard couple of hours.

14:59 CEST    136.5 km/61 km to go
Towards the back of the bunch Robbie McEwen has a moment of inattention and takes unexpectedly to the grass verge; unfortunately, there's a bit of a ditch there and he comes down. No real damage done and he is back on the bike and getting back up through the convoy of team cars.

Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com) is off the pace today and has definitively lost contact with the bunch.

15:11 CEST    147.5 km/50 km to go
McEwen is finding it more difficult to get back on than it seemed, and Nick Gates has dropped back to him. However, it is not far to the bottom of the first climb now and there will certainly be a "bus" forming which he may be able to catch.

The break is still plugging on, but not quite as steadily as before, and the gap has dropped below five minutes now; they won't be in front for very long once the climb starts.

McEwen is back now, as Nicolas Fritsch (FDJeux.com) punctures.

15:21 CEST    151.5 km/46 km to go
As the valley road approaches Usson-les-Bains, the official start of the col, the gradient starts to to stiffen and a few more riders have started to drift off the back already.

The col itself starts with a steep stretch - around 10% for the first couple of kilometres, and then climbs more steadily until it pitches up again at the top, 29 km from the finish (20 down, 9 up...). This is the first time the Tour has climbed it; its first category status may be an underestimate.

15:28 CEST    153.5 km/44 km to go
The break is now disintegrating, and the back of the bunch is straggling out s the climb proper starts. Axel Merckx, Santiago Botero and Sylvain Chavanel are among those in trouble.

At the front of the bunch Bianchi take up the pace-setting, with Armsatrong alone behind them - not many US Postal jerseys in sight. The bunch is disintegrating very fast indeed. The bus will be a big one today.

15:33 CEST    156.5 km/41 km to go
Sastre attacks from the front group - there isn't a bunch any more, with Mercado on his wheel. Armstrong has support again from Beltrán, but that initial pressure from Bianchi looks to have hurt him quite a bit. Apart from the remnants of the breakaways up the road, the front group consists of about a dozen riders, no more. Vinokourov is on Armstrong's wheel; at least two Euskaltels are in there.

15:38 CEST    157.5 km/40 km to go
The actual lead on the road is now a group of three, Chechu Rubiera, Alvaro Gonzalez de Galdeano and Laurent Brochard. Mercado and Sastre are still out there in between, while the 14-strong group with Armstrong, Ullrich and Vinokourov look to have settled into a rhythm. Mayo, Zubeldia, Basso and Hamilton are in there too.

Despite Saeco's early showing, Simoni was one of the first dropped; Millar and Boogerd are going backwards.

Rubiera has now ridden clear of his companions and is alone in front.

15:43 CEST    159.5 km/38 km to go
Armstrong is looking very strained (although his crying wolf to the TV cameras in the Alps a few years ago makes all commentators a little cautious) but Beltran is the one setting the pace now. They are 2.21 down on Rubiera, with the two chasers at 1.21. There are still 9 kilometres of this long climb to go.

15:46 CEST    160.5 km/37 km to go
Sastre and Mercado have picked up Rik Verbrugghe. A few more riders have joined the groupe maillot jaune from both in front and behind.

15:52 CEST    162.5 km/35 km to go
Verbrugghe doesn't last long with the two chasers, who drop him and then ride past Brochard too. They don't seem to be making much of an impression on Rubiera, though; Gonzalez de Galdeano is still out there somewhere in no man's land as well.

Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) is dropped from the Armstrong group. Beltran is still setting the pace, and Heras is riding guard on the yellow jersey's wheel, with Vinokourov and Ullrich close behind.

Roberto Laiseka (Euskaltel) has been dropped from the Armstrong group as well.

16:01 CEST    166.5 km/32 km to go
Sastre and Mercado are now making ground slowly on Rubiera, with the CSC rider setting the pace, out of the saddle most of the way.

The Armstrong group has dropped Totschnig; Hamilton, Virenque are still in there, with Mayo and Zubeldia for the Euskaltel challenge. Heras is tailing off, though, on the steepest section of the climb.

Laurent Dufaux attacks from the yellow jersey group and goes away fast.

16:05 CEST    
Mayo attacks, and Armstrong leads the counter to bring him back. Heras is dropped.

He has a second go, but Armstrong again leads the chase, with Ullrich and Vinokourov in close attendance; the pace settles down a bit and the group reforms. Richard Virenque is having trouble but is still there. Mayo's jumps looked tentative, as though he was testing the waters. He'll be back.

In front, Sastre and Mercado catch Rubiera close to the summit, so there are three leaders.

16:12 CEST    168.5 km/29 km to go
On the easier top slopes Mercado takes up the pace, with the Basque flags flying in the crowd. Mercado leads Sastre and Rubiera over; from here it's a 20 km descent and then straight back up again all the way to the finish.

Dufaux crosses just under a minute down.

Virenque takes the points for fourth, leading the Armstrong group over 1.40 down. Virenque is now 69 points ahead of Armstrong in the spotty jersey competition.

16:19 CEST    173.5 km/24 km to go
The descent is fast and open, but with some interesting hairpins. There were 11 riders in the Armstrong group at the summit, but we can expect a few more to make it back on the downhill section.

16:23 CEST    177.5 km/20 km to go
16 riders in the Armstrong group now; the man himself takes the opportunity to do a bit of stretching, and on some of the straighter sections riders are able to get stuff from their team cars, despite the speed.

Dufaux seems to be closing on the three Spaniards in the lead.

16:28 CEST    183.5 km/14 km to go
Amstrong will have Heras and Beltrán with him to start the final climb; they are both back up leading him on the descent.

Dufaux is flying but still some way behind the leading trio. He's enjoying himself, though.

16:30 CEST    188.5 km/9 km to go
The leading trio come to the foot of the climb in the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes, and then it is more or less straight back up again on the final climb. Dufaux has closed to 33 seconds.

The leaders get their helmets off at the earliest opportunity. The final climb is notionally 9 km, but the last kilometre is pretty flat; the steepest sections are in the middle, at about 9% average for a couple of kilometres.

16:36 CEST    
Heras and Beltran up the pace at the bottom of the climb and some of the riders who got back on the descent are in trouble immediately.

Beltran doesn't last long; Heras is leasding Armstrong with Ulrich riding almost alongside him, Vinokourov close behind.

Ahead, Sastre has ridden his two companions off his wheel.

16:38 CEST    189.5 km/8 km to go
Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) went off the back fairly quickly, but then jumped back and went straight through on the attack. Nobody seemed interested in chasing, and he gets a reasonable gap pretty quickly.

16:43 CEST    192.5 km/5 km to go
Halgand's gallop doesn't last too long. There are now four lone riders in front of the yellow jersey group; at the back, Moreau and Virenque are in trouble.

Heras blows and dies a thousand deaths, all over the road in a manner that reminds me of Petacchi just before he packed (but Heras won't, I'm sure).

16:45 CEST    193.5 km/4 km to go
Sastre is still grinding on in front, on about the steepest slopes.

Hamilton is dropped by the Armstrong group. Virenque is out as well.

Mayo is in trouble too!

16:47 CEST    
Rubiera has now dropped back to the Armstrong group and is stting the pace, which is now down to six riders: Ullrich, Vinokourov, Basso and Zubeldia make up the numbers. They catch Dufaux to make it seven.

Under the 4 km to go banner Ullrich moves up to take a pointed look at Armstrong. Mayo fights his way back up to the group. Ahead, Sastre is still grinding on, with Mercado in the gap.

16:51 CEST    195.5 km/2 km to go
Sastre is through the worst. He still has 1.31 in hand

Behind, Zubeldia jumps and Ullrich is straight with him; Vino gets up, and then Armstrong manages to get across the gap. Rubiera and Mayo are out of the picture.

Ullrich sets the pace for a while and then Vinokourov has a go. Ullrich gets back, then Armstrong is definitely in trouble

Armstrong is dropped!

Basso who has got back gets past him. Ullrich is leading Vinokourov and Zubeldia now.

16:55 CEST    196.5 km/1 km to go
Sastre is under the flamme rouge. Ullrich is alone now, and sweeps past Mercado

16:56 CEST    
Sastre comes in for a deserved stage victory, and crosses the line with his baby's dummy in his mouth. Wacky victory celebrations are in this year.

Zubeldia is nearly with Ullrich, but der Kaiser holds him off to take second a minute down on Sastre; Armstrong is not dead and buried yet, though, and on the flatter final section he has fought his way back up to pass Vinokourov and finish only a handful of seconds down; Ullrich will get 12 seconds time bonus, though, and get something like 16 or 17 seconds closer to Armstrong, about half the distance he was down.

Basso and Mercado follow Vinokourov through, and then the rest, in dribs and drabs.

Results (provisional)

1 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                    5.16.08
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi                     1.01
3 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor        1.08
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom            1.18
6 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
7 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) iBanesto.com             1.24
8 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                  1.59
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole            2.32
10 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC
General classification after stage 13
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor    55.34.01
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi                     0.15
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom            1.01
4 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi            4.14
5 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC                      4.23
6 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                  5.20
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                     6.59
8 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com
9 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC                       8.47
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole           9.19

Latest live report (automatic updates)    Mail the Cyclingnews commentary team!

Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 90th Tour de France is powered by