91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004
& Results Stage
Live Report Results
Stage 13 - Saturday July 17: Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille, 205.5 km
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 10:50 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:03 CEST
The big Pyrenean stage starts in Lannemezan, passing over seven categorised
climbs before finishing atop the hors categorie Plateau de Beille (15.9
km at 7.8%). 205 km long, this stage contains an additional two Cat. 1 climbs
(Col de Core, km 99.5 and Col d'Agnes, km 146), two Cat. climbs (Portet d'Aspet,
km 64 and Latrape, km 131) and two Cat. 3 ascents (Col des Ares, km 42.5, and
Port de Lers, km 155). The intermediate sprints are at Orgibet (km 74) and Ornolac
Km 42.5: Col des Ares, 4 km at 4.7%
Km 64: Col de Portet d'Aspet, 4.4 km at 9.8%
Km 99.5: Col de Core, 14.2 km at 6%
Km 131: Col de Latrape, 5.6 km at 7.7%
Km 146: Col d'Agnes, 9.8 km at 8.2%
Km 155: Port de Lers, 3.8 km at 5.7%
Km 205.5: Plateau de Beille, 15.9 km at 7.8%
It's a nice sunny day at the start in Lannemezan, with temperatures in the mid-20's
and climbing. But, just like yesterday, rain is predicted in the last third
of the stage, which will make it tough for riders who don't adapt well to sudden
climatic changes (they know who they are).
In keeping with our incredibly popular outdoorsy rural theme, Cyclingnews
has decided to relocate its main commentary position from the finish line tribune
on top of Plateau de Beille to a paddock adjacent the press tent. Through a
series of strategically placed France Telecom cardboard placards, we have even
managed to get the Tour's WiFi network to work out here. So we'll be bringing
you all the action as it happens from our crack team of international reporters
on the road in all-natural surroundings. Someone's conveniently left a helicopter
here too, which will be handy for getting off this mountain.
11:00 CEST 1km/204.5km to go
After a fast neutral section, the flag is dropped a few minutes before 11am
to start the 13th stage. Straight away, Yuri Krivstov (Ag2r) attacks and has
a small gap to a chasing group and a strung out peloton.
Sergio Marinangeli (Domina Vacanze) didn't start today.
11:03 CEST 3km/202.5km to go
Krivstov is caught by a group of 13 riders, with Alessandro Bertolini and Scott
Sunderland (Alessio-bianchi), Ludovic Martin (RAGT), Floyd Landis (USPS), Daniele
Nardello (T-Mobile), Michele Bartoli (CSC), Bram de Groot (Rabobank), Richard
Virenque (Quick.Step) and several more.
11:05 CEST 4km/201.5km to go
The full group: Floyd Landis (US Postal), Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile Team),
Ińigo Landaluze (Euskaltel), Michele Bartoli (CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner),
Richard Virenque (Quick Step), Jan Hruska (Liberty Seguros), Jérôme Pineau (Brioches),
Marcus Ljungqvist and Scott Sunderland (Alessio-Bianchi), Bram de Groot and
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Gilles Bouvard and Ludovic Martin (R.A.G.T.).
It's too big though, and US Postal is driving the bunch to chase it down. The
gap is about 12 seconds.
11:08 CEST 9km/196.5km to go
Postal is working hard on the front of the bunch and has pegged the gap to 8
seconds. There are 14 riders in front, and with guys like Rasmussen, Virenque
and Nardello there, USPS doesn't want to let it go.
The group sort of sits up and Pineau counter attacks.
Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) punctures
11:09 CEST 11km/194.5km to go
Virenque counters behind Pineau just as the group is caught. One of the RAGT
riders goes with him, but USPS is still driving the bunch.
11:12 CEST 12.5km/193km to go
Rabobank closes the gap down and the attacks start over again. The beginning
is always a key tactical part of the stage, and it is clearly very difficult
to get in a break. It usually takes between 30-50 km of this sort of attacking
before the elastic breaks and a break is allowed to go.
11:15 CEST 15km/190.5km to go
The peloton is really travelling - one loooong line. Zubeldia drops off the
back, not sure whether it's a mechanical or it's his sore knee.
Michael Boogerd attacks and gets four riders for company, including Jens Voigt,
Juan Miguel Mercado and Christophe Moreau.
11:17 CEST 17km/188.5km to go
The five riders have a small gap as the counter attacks come from behind them.
US Postal is trying to control it.
Zubeldia looks like he's going to step off soon. He's not riding very fast and
is waiting for his second team car.
11:19 CEST 17km/188.5km to go
The lead group contains Christophe Moreau (Crédit Agricole), Jens Voigt (Team
CSC), Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears - Banesto), Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick Step-Davitamon)
and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), and they have 8 seconds advantage over the blue
jersey led peloton.
Zubeldia abandons and gets into his team car. A disappointment for the rider
who finished so high on the GC last year.
11:22 CEST 22km/183.5km to go
The bunch is now 16 seconds behind the lead group, which is working well to
establish a gap. Moreau is the best placed on GC, 37th at 13'40, so US Postal
(and Brioches) can probably let this break go. But Mercado won't be doing much
work as Virenque is back in the peloton - Moreau threatens Virenque's GC place
as well as being 50 points behind him in the mountains GC.
Moreau was quoted in L'Equipe today as saying, "Unfortunately, Richard and I
did not collaborate when we were together on the Aspin. We had different interests,
different jerseys and that's how the race goes. I climbed on courage, I went
all out and that was good for the morale. I could see that Ullrich was in trouble
and also Hamilton and the maillot jaune. The polka dot jersey could interest
me, that's true, just like a stage win because for the general classification
it's not going to happen."
Bobby Julich punctures.
11:24 CEST 24km/181.5km to go
The break sits up as the peloton catches them. Voigt, Boogerd and Zandio try
to keep going, but are caught by Zanini and Botero.
11:26 CEST 25km/180.5km to go
Virenque closes the gap to the leaders, and now there are six. He has a bit
of trouble closing it but Zanini drops off the back and tows him back up.
The lead group: Jens Voigt (Team CSC), Xabier Zandio (Illes Balears), Stefano
Zanini and Richard Virenque (Quick Step-Davitamon), Santiago Botero (T-Mobile)
and Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)
Boogerd is a bit annoyed that Virenque is there, and the break is caught again.
Chavanel counters, but doesn't get far.
11:29 CEST 27km/178.5km to go
Menchov is out the back of the bunch and riding very slowly. A mechanical or
pain? It's pain. He's barely moving. He'll abandon soon.
Chavanel has another go and takes a CSC rider with him, surely not Voigt? Yes
it is. They have 15 seconds.
11:31 CEST 30km/175.5km to go
It's over for Menchov. The Russian takes off his helmet and steps into the team
Meanwhile, US Postal is still leading the peloton although a counter attack
has gone off in pursuit of Voigt and Chavanel. Lance obviously wants to win
the stage today (as he did yesterday), so US Postal is keeping a close eye on
Voigt and Chavanel now have 30 seconds on a slightly more subdued peloton. US
Postal is still at the front, but only riding a controlling tempo - not chasing.
11:37 CEST 31km/174.5km to go
The break is established and Voigt reaches into his pocket for some food. There
are 8 US Postal riders on the front, with Team CSC placed right behind them
protecting Basso. Maillot jaune Voeckler is further back.
Iban Mayo has to stop to get a saddle adjustment. But it's time for a nature
call, so he should have no problem getting back to the peloton.
11:39 CEST 33km/172.5km to go
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) counter attacks as the leaders now have 1'40 on
the peloton. The Danish rider gets a gap and is solo.
Iban Mayo is now back in the bunch.
11:45 CEST 36km/169.5km to go
Rasmussen closes to within 1'30 of Voigt and Chavanel, who aren't bad climbers.
The Postal led peloton is at 2'12. We can assume that Brioches has given up
control of the race, after over a week's worth of very hard work on the front.
The first climb, the Col des Ares, is coming up soon, starting at km 38. It's
a Cat. 3 climb measuring 4 km at 4.7%.
Glomser (Saeco) has been dropped by the peloton. This could be it for the Austrian.
11:49 CEST 40km/165.5km to go
Glomser unstraps the helmet and waits for his team car. It's the end of the
road for the Saeco rider.
Rasmussen is now 1'20 behind the two leaders, who are 2'25 in front of the bunch.
The Col des Ares has started.
11:53 CEST 42km/163.5km to go
Time for a reader question. Dutch reader Emmanuel van Ruitenbeek asks what the
"saddle bag" is doing on Jens Voigt's bike. It's actually a transmitting device
that relays his heart rate, power output (he has an SRM system too) and other
data to German TV (and presumably his team) during the race.
Purely by coincidence, John Stevenson has just let me know that we have a feature
on Jens Voigt's bike here.
The CN mind-reading system must be working well today.
11:56 CEST 42.5km/163km to go
Chavanel takes the four points at the top of the Col des Ares ahead of Voigt.
Rasmussen is following at about 1'20, with the peloton led by Eki and Noval
12:00 CEST 45km/160.5km to go
Rasmussen takes third at 1'25 while Noval gets the final point at 3'06.
It's still very warm weather and no sign of any rain. Lots of riders dropping
back for team car visits and bottle duty.
12:06 CEST 50km/155.5km to go
The descent of the Ares is moderately technical, but there are no problems for
any of the riders.
Voigt and Chavanel are keeping Rasmussen at bay for now: The Dane is still on
his own, 1'10 behind the leaders. The bunch is sitting at 3'07, now being led
by Pavel Padrnos.
44 km were covered in the first hour.
12:11 CEST 53km/152.5km to go
Thomas Voeckler (Brioches) is dropping back behind the peloton, looking for
his team car. He finds it amidst the organised chaos that is the Tour caravan
and has a chat with his team director.
Mayo seems to be having more mechanical problems, but he has a teammate on hand
and takes some time out to chat to the team car, grabbing a few spare bottles
too for his teammates. So who's the Euskaltel team leader today then?
The gaps: Chavanel and Voigt have 1'14 to Rasmussen and 3'40 to the peloton.
12:16 CEST 58km/147.5km to go
The leaders are now a few km from the foot of the Col du Portet d'Aspet, rated
as a cat. 2 climb averaging a nasty 9.8% for 4 km. This climb will forever be
known as the one where Italian Fabio Casartelli, while descending crashed into
a concrete block and died during the Tour in 1995. There is a memorial to Casartelli
a couple of km from the top, on the side that the riders climb today.
12:23 CEST 59.5km/146km to go
Chavanel and Voigt are nearing the lower slopes of the Portet d'Aspet, although
the climb proper hasn't quite started yet. Rasmussen is still in no-man's land
at 1'25 behind, with the peloton at 4'10.
The climb starts and straight away you can tell it's a nasty gradient. Chavanel
gets a bit of assistance from his team car, via a bottle and an adjustment to
his radio gear.
Chavanel is no stranger to long breakaways. He was away in the famous stage
of the Tour last year to Luz Ardiden, but was caught by an adrenaline-charged
Lance Armstrong on the final climb after Armstrong had crashed and the others
may or may not have waited, depending on who you listen to.
12:27 CEST 61km/144.5km to go
Rasmussen is on the climb now, and the peloton has reached the foot of it, led
all the time by nine US Postal riders. USPS has been riding on the front virtually
from the start today, and will be doing everything to put Armstrong in a position
to win and take the yellow jersey on Plateau de Beille (that's what it says
on my script anyway).
That's the plan, but as we know, things change.
The peloton rides past the Casartelli memorial at a steady pace. No stopping
Casper, Engoulvent and Tombak (all Cofidis) are having problems at the back
of the bunch, but they're fighting to keep in contact. It'll be a very long
Rinero (RAGT) is dropping off the back too, finding the Portet d'Aspet very
tough in this heat.
In front, Chavanel is pedalling slowly with Voigt coming through every now and
again to take his turn. They still have Rasmussen at 1'10 and the peloton at
4'15. They're getting near the top now.
Matt Wilson (FDJ) is fighting hard along with Thor Hushovd (CA). Baden Cooke
and Robbie McEwen are also at the wrong end of the peloton.
Rasmussen is just 25 seconds from the leaders - nice riding!
12:35 CEST 63.5km/142km to go
It looks like the bus is forming early today. McEwen, Nazon, Cooke, Hushovd,
Dekker, Eisel, Becke, Joly, Casper, Baldato are all being distanced by the peloton
on the Portet d'Aspet.
Rasmussen closes the gap to the two leaders with 500m to the summit. He is pedalling
much faster too.
12:37 CEST 64.5km/141km to go
With a little acceleration, Chavanel is first over, followed by Voigt and Rasmussen.
Further back, Moncoutié attacks with Virenque in tow. There's still a few more
points to be gained on this Cat. 2 climb.
Aldag, Knaven, Loosli, Beneteau, Bertolini, Elmiger, Dean, Pozzato, Zanini are
all going off the back of the peloton.
Thomas Voeckler is dropped! He gets paced up by Laurent Lefevere and will have
to do a bit of fancy riding on the technical descent to catch the peloton.
Virenque takes fourth place on the climb ahead of Moncoutié at 3'31.
12:42 CEST 68km/137.5km to go
Voeckler sees the top of the climb and sprints, with Lefevre on his wheel. The
descent begins, and the maillot jaune is chasing on to the tail end of the peloton.
Only five more climbs...this is going to be a very tough day for the Frenchman,
who has had a fantastic race.
The three leaders are at the bottom of the descent.
12:43 CEST 70km/135.5km to go
The leaders race through St Lary are the foot of the Portet d'Aspet. Virenque
and Moncoutié have sat up, at 3'20 behind them. The peloton at 3'45 will close
the gap soon enough. Voeckler is at the back of the peloton, but he's still
in contact and that's a good sign for him.
JP Nazon has crashed on the descent. We hope it's not serious.
12:48 CEST 73km/132.5km to go
Chavanel, Rasmussen and Voigt are approaching the first sprint in Orgibet. Chavanel
takes the points ahead of Rasmussen and Voigt.
Moncoutié and Virenque come back to the peloton, which has the usual blue jerseys
12:54 CEST 78km/127.5km to go
Tyler Hamilton has dropped to the rear of the peloton, wanting a one-on-one
with his team car.
Situation stable: the trio has 3'57 on a US Postal led peloton.
Two years ago, Postal rode exactly the same way in a similar stage, setting
a hard tempo all day to set up Armstrong and Heras on the Plateau de Beille.
Only Beloki survived losing too much time that day.
12:58 CEST 80km/125.5km to go
It's sunny and hot at the finish on top of the Plateau de Beille where thousands
of fans are camped out, waiting for the race.
McEwen is back in the peloton, and that means the other sprinters have probably
made it back too. 4'31.
O'Grady is up the front next to Klöden and Basso, right behind the Postal locomotive.
13:00 CEST 81km/124.5km to go
JP Nazon is back in the peloton after his crash, which is good news.
The leaders have reached the feed zone, just before the Col de Core (14.2 km
at 6%) with 4'44 over the bunch. Rasmussen started the day in 23rd at 10'20
down, so he's moved up a few virtual places on GC.
13:05 CEST 81km/124.5km to go
Te peloton goes through the feed zone and there is a bit of a traffic jam. Eki
grabs his musette right at the front of the peloton.
Hamilton has stopped. He rides backwards through the caravan, waving to all
the directors, and climbs into the team van at the feed. That's a terrible blow
for Phonak, but after Hamilton's loss yesterday he was no longer a GC threat.
The pain from his fall in Stage 6 and quite possibly the mental anguish of losing
his dog Tugboat can't have helped.
13:09 CEST 87km/118.5km to go
Hamilton's abandon will probably leave Santos Gonzalez as the Phonak leader
at the moment, as he is the best placed on GC. José Enrique Gutierrez and Oscar
Sevilla are also in the top 15.
5'23 after 87 km to Voigt, Chavanel and Rasmussen. Just 2 km to go to the foot
of the Col de Core.
13:12 CEST 90km/115.5km to go
The leaders hit the foot of the Col de Core, 14.2 km at 6%. The lower slopes
aren't too steep, and there is even a 2.5% false flat after 4 km of climbing.
It's a Cat. 1 climb.
Tom Boonen has crashed and is sitting on the ground. His stem has broken! Ouch.
He gets a new bike, but doesn't look too happy about riding it.
13:15 CEST 91km/114.5km to go
Boonen is back on a bike, clinging to the race doctor's car. He is in pain,
but he doesn't look too beaten up. It seems as though his stem broke, causing
him to crash. He gets some treatment on his knee by the doctor, while being
towed up the climb. Now he's on his own, and has to chase the rest of the way
through the caravan.
The three leaders are hammering along on the Col de Core, all in the small chainring
but moving quickly.
13:18 CEST 91.5km/114km to go
McEwen is dropped again with a few of the other sprinters. It's very early on
the climb, but a bus may form. McEwen digs deep and bridges the gap to the peloton.
O'Grady is also back there.
Tom Boonen rides up the dropped group and finds Zanini for company. The peloton
is another 200m up the road, but they're closing the gap. They do, and it's
5'16 to the leaders. No changes.
The reason for Tyler Hamilton's abandon is, as suspected, his bad back. For
Hamilton it's not the same as having a broken collarbone, pain wise.
13:24 CEST 93.5km/112km to go
Armstrong is looking fairly happy today, sitting pretty behind seven of his
teammates. Floyd Landis is directly behind Armstrong.
Two of the three leaders look to be suffering, while Chavanel looks reasonably
comfortable as he tows the break up the long, green valley towards the summit
of the Col de Core. This climb gets a bit steeper towards the top, but nothing
more than 7.5%.
13:27 CEST 94km/111.5km to go
The relentless pace in the peloton is causing more riders to drop off - Dekker
is one, but he has to lose a lot of time before he can be considered for the
Lanterne Rouge (last rider on GC) competition.
4'56 to Chavanel, Rasmussen and Voigt.
13:31 CEST 96km/109.5km to go
Boonen asks for the race doctor again, and this time gets assistance for both
knees. He ends up in the debris at the back of the peloton, but is climbing
pretty well still.
The leaders have less than 5km to go to the summit, and the road gets a little
steeper now. The descent of this climb is reasonably tricky. I did it six years
ago and had nightmares about the roads melting under my tyres. That was the
year where Roland Meier was first over the top while in a break with Rodolfo
Massi and (?). Pantani won the stage, which also finished on Plateau de Beille.
McEwen is being dropped again and finds the company of a few others. The peloton
is still quite large - well over 100 riders.
We haven't spotted any cows yet, for those who are wondering.
13:36 CEST 97km/108.5km to go
Pozzato, Zanini, Bertolini, Baldato, Simeoni, Davis, Cancellara, Valoti are
being dropped off the peloton. Voeckler is once again at the front end of the
bunch, risking a fine for an undone helmet. He's sitting next to Hushovd.
13:40 CEST 98.5km/107km to go
The leaders have 1 km to the summit of the Col de la Core, and it's now Rasmussen
who's setting the pace. Voigt is doing less work on the climb, but is still
hanging on OK.
Noval, Beltran and Padrnos are on the front of the peloton, as usual. Postal
doesn't mean to relinquish control of this race and it looks like everyone is
waiting for the last climb. Virenque moves forward, ready to pounce for the
Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) has abandoned.
13:43 CEST 99.5km/106km to go
Rubiera and Azevedo drop back to grab some bottles from the team car for their
hard working teammates in front.
Chavanel leads the break towards the summit, bit Rasmussen matches him when
he accelerates. Chavanel takes the 15 points, Rasmussen gets 13 and Voigt 11.
Let the descent begin!
13:46 CEST 102km/103.5km to go
Voeckler is still at the back of the peloton as it nears the top of the Col
de la Core, but he'll make it. The gap is 5'07, and has barely changed in the
last 30 km.
13:49 CEST 104km/101.5km to go
As the bunch nears the top, Dufaux takes over the tempo setting with Virenque
and Moreau on his wheel. At the start of the stage, Virenque led the spotted
jersey competition by 38 points over Axel Merckx and 52 points over Moreau.
It seems as though the two Frenchmen are the only ones interested in it.
Not quite - Mancebo attacks for the points but it's Virenque who has the best
legs and gets fourth ahead of Moreau and Mancebo.
13:52 CEST 106km/99.5km to go
Virenque and Mancebo have a little chat on the descent, as Mancebo got in the
way of Virenque's sprint, or Virenque pushed him out of the way. It depends
on your point of view, and Virenque is trying to impress his point on Mancebo.
Gutierrez has a puncture.
13:58 CEST 111km/94.5km to go
The leaders are negotiating the descent of the Col de la Core quite well, and
have maintained their 5'15 advantage over the peloton. They're now nearly at
Another reader question. Australian Mark McKillop asks what the "bus" is. Also
known as the autobus or the gruppetto, this is generally the term given for
the big group that forms at the back of the race in the tough stages containing
most of the non-climbers.
The leaders are now at the bottom of the descent, and Chavanel grabs a bottle
of water (not a normal bidon) from his car. In a stage like today, drinking
constantly is important as it's critical to stay hydrated until the final climb.
A crash with two Liberty Seguros riders - one is Heras!
14:01 CEST 115km/90.5km to go
The crash happened just after a hairpin on the descent. Heras takes a long time
to get going, but he does and is helped by his teammates. Dekker flies through
a non existent gap and a little group forms around Heras to tow him back.
14:06 CEST 118km/87.5km to go
Heras is still chasing as the road flattens out through Seix, a typical tiny
Pyrenean village along the river Salat. It looks nice in the river.
14:09 CEST 120km/85.5km to go
Another couple of reader questions. Question 1) How is the team classification
calculated? See yesterday's report, but it's the sum of the team's top three
riders each day that is added to the team's total. The GC time of the riders
is not used.
Question 2) Why aren't there any Coca-Cola bottles in the Tour any more? Because
Coca-Cola stopped sponsoring the Tour a couple of years ago. Most riders use
their own bidons now or any other drinking receptacles that they are given.
Heras' group has made it back to the caravan, and will close the gap to the
peloton. Davis waits by the team car to get bottles.
Gap is 5'28 to Chavanel, Voigt and Rasmussen.
14:12 CEST 122km/83.5km to go
Voeckler has stopped for a bike change. He takes his bidon off and swaps it
and is under way again. No sign of a yellow transponder on his chain stay. He
gets paced back by two teammates.
The lead trio are nearing the fourth climb of the day, the Cat. 2 Col de Latrape
(5.6 km at 7.7%). Short, but fairly steep.
14:16 CEST 124km/81.5km to go
Another question: For Bruce Murphy, who was asking about team assistance in
the mountains - there's still considerable aerodynamic benefit to be had following
a wheel at TdF climbing speeds. If these guys are climbing at 30 km/h on the
shallower slopes, a large percentage of your work at that speed goes into overcoming
air resistance. Even at 20 km/h it's still significant. There's also a psychological
benefit in being paced - less need to think.
14:20 CEST 125km/80.5km to go
Chavanel, Rasmussen and Voigt hit the Latrape with a 5'42 lead on the peloton,
which is almost unchanged with USPS on the right. Voeckler is towards the front
again, bike changed. Basso is there, as are Rogers, Julich, Piil, Caucchioli,
Ivanov, Ullrich, Klöden, Virenque etc. All looking pretty calm.
14:24 CEST 127km/78.5km to go
Rasmussen leads Voigt and the comfortable looking Chavanel on the Latrape. Chavanel
seems to be getting the most assistance from his team car on the climbs, making
full use of the hand on the water bottle.
14:27 CEST 129km/76.5km to go
The usual groups are forming off the back of the peloton on the Latrape, including
(surprisingly) Iban Mayo, who really doesn't look as quick as he did in the
Dauphine. He is attended to by a couple of teammates. Euskaltel has already
lost Zubeldia today, so if they lose Mayo then there's not much left for them.
Mayo looks pretty ordinary at the moment, he's not pedalling that fast and is
with Etxebarria and a couple of others. He passes Scott Sunderland, who looks
rather surprised at seeing Mayo back here. Sunderland grabs the back of the
Euskaltel train and tries to hold on.
14:31 CEST 130km/75.5km to go
The peloton is still quite large, and Voeckler is sitting towards the back again.
Mayo's group is about 30 seconds back, and has O'Grady in it now as Scott Sunderland
takes it a little easier. T-Mobile's Sergei Ivanov comes back to them.
Another reader question: Why are there so many punctures? Can't the pros afford
a little extra weight and ride with thicker tyres? Our tech editor John Stevenson
answers: Actually some good modern tyres do have puncture-reducing features,
like belts under the tread (Clement Criteriums for example). The problem is
they're just not very effective. They reduce punctures a bit, but you can't
make tyres very puncture-resistant without increasing weight or rolling resistance
a lot. A decent-sized piece of glass, especially lubricated by rain, will cut
through just about anything you can use as a lightweight tyre casing.
Chavanel, Voigt and Rasmussen are working hard to keep their 5'48 advantage
to the top of the Latrape. This is "only" a Cat. 2 climb, but it's causing a
lot of damage to the peloton. It looks like it could be the end for Voeckler,
who is battling valiantly to hold on in the yellow.
Voeckler puts in another of his patented little sprints and staves off the inevitable
for the time being. How does he do that all the time?
14:36 CEST 131.5km/74km to go
Chavanel easily takes the points on the Latrape ahead of Rasmussen and Voigt,
and he is picking up a nice bag of mountain points today. He's won 39 so far.
Mayo's group is now nearly a minute behind the peloton. Not good for the Basques.
14:39 CEST 134km/71.5km to go
Rasmussen has trouble on the melting roads and has to take a foot out to avoid
Voeckler is dropped again, but he sees the 1 km to go sing and sprints onto
Mayo's orange tinted group now has Dekker and another Rabo rider in it. Also
Aldag is there. They're over a minute behind the peloton.
14:42 CEST 136km/69.5km to go
The summit approaches for the peloton, and it's a big surprise...Richard Virenque
takes the fourth place points ahead of teammate Bettini and Moreau. Virenque
pretty well has a mortgage on this jersey.
Chavanel takes another bottle and then a coke can from his car. They're on the
next climb, the Cat. 1 Col d'Agnes, a rarely used one in the Tour. It's 9.8
km at 8.2% and is all narrow roads. A very nasty climb.
Mayo's group is 6'52 behind the leaders, and nearly two minutes behind the peloton.
Four Euskaltel riders are with Mayo.
14:47 CEST 137km/68.5km to go
The three leaders have 5'12 as they struggle up the lower part of the Col d'Agnes,
which has a 10 percent section after 2 km. Chavanel is suffering, and can't
hold Voigt and Rasmussen. He's going backwards.
As to why riders drink coke, please see Pam Hinton's response in our fitness
The coke hasn't done Chavanel any good though, as he's 30 seconds behind Rasmussen
and Voigt now.
14:52 CEST 139km/66.5km to go
Chavanel has pretty much blown a valve. He's going backwards at a great rate.
Meanwhile Voeckler, still risking a fine which he probably doesn't care about,
is suffering big time off the back of the peloton. This climb will surely be
the end for him. Surely.
Gaps: Voigt and Rasmussen lead Chavanel by 37 seconds and the peloton by 5'15.
It's all US Postal on the front, all the time.
Voeckler grabs a bottle of water from a spectator and empties it on his head,
trying to cool off. The peloton is thinning down again, as Noval leads. Klöden
is looking good too.
The readers who have pointed out that most of the rider's work on a climb goes
into climbing are right, of course - John Stevenson was thinking of 85 percent
at 30 km/h on the flat as an illustration of the fact that even at relatively
low speeds, there's advantage to be had in drafting.
[That's nearly as good as the logical southern slope (meaning east) of the Tourmalet
14:57 CEST 139km/66.5km to go
Mayo's group which contains four Euskaltels including Mayo now has Sunderland
in it again, but they're not coming back. The gap is 8'00 to the leaders and
about 3'15 to the peloton.
Ullrich has moved up a bit and is now on the wheels of the six US Postal riders
in front. The peloton is getting smaller very fast.
Mayo tried to abandon, climbing off in the middle of the road. No big surprise.
A teammate waits for him and his director pushes him off again. Then Garcia
Acosta and Cancellara push him. They want him to keep going.
Mayo is getting a lot of support from his teammates and countrymen around him.
Garcia Acosta tells him to keep going. There's only this climb, the next one
and the Plateau de Beille to go. So easy is it...
15:00 CEST 141.5km/64km to go
The Col d'Agnes is steep enough to make anyone crack. Mayo gets some technical
assistance from his team mechanic, making sure that the gears are indexing perfectly.
It's more mental support than anything else.
Meanwhile Voeckler is with Secchiari some way off the back of the peloton.
The lead peloton - still with six Postal riders in front - is down to about
40-50 riders. Ullrich is up there, as are Klöden, Mancebo, Basso, Caucchioli.
15:04 CEST 142km/63.5km to go
Mayo looks to be travelling a bit better now, sitting on D. Etxebarria's wheel.
Landaluze is also back with him.
Voeckler is about 30 seconds behind the peloton, with one US Postal rider with
him - Noval. Voeckler lives still!
In front, Chavanel is 50 seconds behind Voigt and Rasmussen with the peloton
15:06 CEST 143km/62.5km to go
Voeckler gets an energy gel from the Quick.Step car, which is good to see. He
can see the back of the caravan in front of him, tantalisingly out of reach.
Chavanel seems to have recovered a bit (maybe the coke has kicked in?) and is
sitting 50 seconds behind Rasmussen and Voigt.
Mayo is now 10 minutes behind the two leaders. At least this climb flattens
out a bit towards the top.
15:07 CEST 144km/61.5km to go
Mancebo attacks! He gets a small gap and the Postal train remains solid. 10
Mancebo looks back and accelerates out of the next hairpin. There's US Postal
jerseys on the front of the bunch, but not as many now.
Heras is dropped from the peloton.
15:09 CEST 144.5km/61km to go
Mancebo drives it as hard as he can as the peloton splinters into small bits
on the Col d'Agnes. Five US Postal jerseys in front, when Ullrich, Klöden and
Merckx and Verbrugghe are being dropped with Sandy Casar (FDJ), who is third
on GC. After yesterday's stage, Casar told L'Equipe that "I'm disappointed because
the team did a very good job to bring me to the bottom of the Aspin. I didn't
have the legs and I lost time needlessly on the descent of the Aspin. I wasn't
able to do what I needed to do on the descent. After that it was too fast for
me on the climb to La Mongie. In the group I was in, everybody had a teammate
up ahead so nobody wanted to ride with me."
15:13 CEST 145km/60.5km to go
Mancebo realises that there's no point in continuing, and the Postal train with
Azevedo, Hincapie, Rubiera, Landis and Armstrong pulls him back. Leipheimer
is also in the Armstrong group, as is Sastre (just). Maybe 25 riders left.
Voeckler is about 40 seconds off the back of the peloton. Beltran catches him.
1 km from the summit for Rasmussen and Voigt, who have 4'30 on the lead bunch.
15:17 CEST 147km/58.5km to go
The final kilometre is "only" 6 percent, but this has really been a brutal climb.
The crowds aren't huge, but they're loud.
Some names in the front peloton: Armstrong, Landis, Rubiera, Azevedo, Hincapie,
Ullrich, Klöden, Guerini, Pereiro, Moreau, Basso, Sastre, Totschnig, Simoni,
Goubert, Karpets, Mancebo, Virenque.
Rasmussen takes the points at the summit ahead of Voigt. Chavanel should take
third. The peloton is 3'40 back.
Voeckler is now with the Casar/Merckx group - not too far from the Armstrong
15:19 CEST 149km/56.5km to go
The Armstrong group nears the summit at 3'44 behind the two leaders, with Chavanel
crossing the top at 2'00 behind. Voeckler's group is at 4'31, so he may get
Rasmussen and Voigt are flying down the descent now.
Virenque and Moreau assume the position in front and it's Virenque who takes
the points for fourth (9 points) at 3'47. Moreau is fifth then it looks like
The Voeckler group summits at 4'40.
Mayo's group is way, way back - more than 12 minutes. Mayo does not look happy,
but he looks better than before when he stepped off the bike.
15:23 CEST 150km/55.5km to go
Voeckler attacks the descent, which is fairly short, and takes Merckx with him.
The maillot jaune is not done yet! Allez Voeckler!
Mancebo took sixth on the Agnes.
15:24 CEST 151.5km/54km to go
Rasmussen and Voigt, still with 3'40 of their lead, are on the penultimate climb
of the day, the Cat. 3 Port de Lers (3.8 km at 5.7%). Then they'll have a nice
long descent down the valley to Tarascon before tackling the Plateau de Beille.
15:27 CEST 153km/52.5km to go
Voeckler almost closes the gap but he runs out of descent. He's about 20 seconds
behind Armstrong's rather select group on the Port de Lers. He's got Halgand
and Mercado for company, and another Brioches rider.
15:29 CEST 154km/51.5km to go
The US Postal train continues to trundle along, extremely impressively too.
They have been riding in front all day and still have five men left,
while the greater percentage of the peloton is in bits behind them.
Nozal (Liberty) leads the Mayo group over the Col d'Agnes. Meanwhile, the two
leaders Voigt and Rasmussen are nearly at the top of the next climb.
Merckx has caught the Armstrong group.
15:32 CEST 155km/50.5km to go
Chavanel is still going alone in between the two leaders and the mini-peloton,
which now contains Armstrong, Landis, Rubiera, Azevedo, Hincapie, Ullrich, Klöden,
Guerini, Pereiro, Caucchioli, Moreau, Basso, Sastre, Totschnig, Simoni, Goubert,
Leipheimer, Karpets, Mancebo, Virenque, Merckx, Halgand, Scarponi and Mercado.
Rasmussen takes the points at the summit of the Port de Lers ahead of Voigt.
15:36 CEST 158km/47.5km to go
Chavanel summits at 2'17, with the Armstrong group at 3'31, led of course by
Virenque who sprints for the remaining point.
Voeckler's group crosses at 4'03, and he should be able to close the gap on
this long descent. Great riding.
15:40 CEST 161km/44.5km to go
For concerned readers, we haven't had a Mick Rogers sighting for a while, but
he's not in the Armstrong group.
Chavanel is eating on the descent, still alone, 40 seconds ahead of the Floyd
Landis led peloton.
Voeckler's group, which also contains Casar, Moncoutié and Egoi Martinez, is
on the back of the peloton again. Chapeau!
15:44 CEST 166km/39.5km to go
Rasmussen and Voigt have 3'12 on Chavanel, who is standing up on the descent
and waiting for the bunch to catch him. It does on the very narrow roads.
There's no rain in sight by the way.
15:45 CEST 167km/38.5km to go
The leading pair, who have been out in front since 28 km, now have just 38 km
Armstrong flats, and gets a very quick wheel change and is under way again.
Armstrong gets a teammate back with him and is chasing back on on the descent
through the caravan after his puncture. The bunch waits and for the first time
in ages there are no Postal jerseys on the front.
15:48 CEST 170km/35.5km to go
Armstrong is now on the back of the peloton, which is reaching a flatter section
of the descent in Vicdessos.
Good to see Voeckler in front again.
The leading pair now have 4'01 after the Armstrong puncture.
15:52 CEST 172km/33.5km to go
Basso drops back to chat to Sastre and give him a bottle. The pace is off now
that the group is in the valley, and Mancebo can even find time to take an on
the bike pitstop. Chavanel stretches out and looks for Voeckler. He can help
him a bit more now. Ullrich chugs down an Extran.
15:56 CEST 176km/29.5km to go
There's nary a rain cloud or a cow in sight atop the Plateau de Beille, and
the riders will finish today under bright blue skies. We have about 40 riders
in the peloton which is chasing Michael Rasmussen and Jens Voigt, who have been
in front for 150 km.
Rogers is back on.
15:59 CEST 178km/27.5km to go
TiTi Voeckler (yes, that's his nickname) is busy refueling himself in the peloton,
right behind Virenque and the US Postal train.
The leading pair are riding through Tarascon-sur-Ariege near the foot of the
Plateau de Beille. The final climb starts at 16 km to go and averages 7.8 percent,
with the steepest parts at the bottom of the climb. The leaders have 4'00 over
the Landis-led Postal bus.
16:01 CEST 179km/26.5km to go
Voeckler chats with Marichal, who congratulates him for hanging on this far.
The maillot jaune sprints up the side of the bunch to improve his position.
Will he be in yellow tonight?
3'47 for Rasmussen and Voigt. The Postal boys are driving hard behind them.
16:03 CEST 181km/24.5km to go
Both leaders look quite good despite such a brutal stage. Rasmussen rests his
hands on the tops of the bars as they approach the second and last sprint in
Ornolac. Peloton at 3'36 and closing.
16:04 CEST 183km/22.5km to go
Voigt takes the 6 seconds and points in Ornolac with Rasmussen on his wheel.
Still 2 seconds up for grabs for the peloton...
16:08 CEST 185.5km/20km to go
The peloton is quite strung out as the Postal Five lead Voeckler through Ornolac.
The sprint is taken by Landis (there was no sprint). The 2 seconds obviously
weren't considered important enough.
Rasmussen and Voigt have 3'18 with 20 km to go.
16:11 CEST 187km/18.5km to go
So far, everything has gone according to plan for US Postal. Now it's just up
to Armstrong to finish it off on the Plateau. He must be feeling good to have
the boys riding on the front from kilometre zero. Let's see if the others can
surprise him today.
Voeckler, Chavanel and Pineau are sitting directly behind the Postal train,
then Basso and Sastre, then Ullrich and Klöden.
3'10 with 18 km to go.
16:14 CEST 190km/15.5km to go
The leaders are in Les Cabannes, ready to take the sharp right hand turn onto
the climb. It has begun.
16:15 CEST 191km/14.5km to go
Both Rasmussen and Voigt ditch their helmets into the team car at the foot of
the climb. A male fan chases them, dressed in a thong.
The peloton is at 2'35...
The Postal train leads all the way into Les Cabannes, with Hincapie taking over
from Landis leading up to the climb. The gap is 2'20 at the bottom.
Voigt and Rasmussen are still cooperating, but Rasmussen looks to be the stronger.
16:17 CEST 192km/13.5km to go
The helmets are passed to soigneurs at the bottom, and everyone is suddenly
Hincapie is the first to drop off, then Landis. Just Azevedo and Rubiera left
16:19 CEST 192km/13.5km to go
Karpets and Virenque are among the first to be dropped on the climb as the Postal
duo drive up the pace for Armstrong. Soon there are only 25 riders left, then
20... Sevilla's gone, and Mercado and Brochard.
Rubiera leads, riding hard.
Moreau punctures and gets a wheel from Botcharov. Bad moment. He takes ages
to get the wheel in and loses a good 30 seconds.
16:21 CEST 193km/12.5km to go
Moreau has problems getting going again but he does so eventually. He's not
going to come back though.
Rubiera continues to make the tempo with Azevedo and Armstrong on his wheel.
Klöden is there but Ullrich is a bit further back in 9th.
Rasmussen and Voigt have less than 2 minutes lead now.
Goubert gets a small gap over Rubiera, Azevedo, Armstrong, Basso, Klöden, Totschnig,
Goubert comes back.
Voeckler is dropped. As are Merckx, Verbrugghe and Chavanel.
16:25 CEST 193km/12.5km to go
Moreau finds teammate Halgand, who tries to pace him back to the leading group
but it's too far. Scarponi, Mercado, Sastre, Guerini, Merckx are all dropped.
Voeckler is riding well, with Chavanel.
First group: Armstrong, Rubiera, Azevedo, Ullrich, Klöden, Guerini, Pereiro,
Caucchioli, Basso, Sastre, Totschnig, Simoni, Goubert, Leipheimer, Mancebo.
The two leaders have 56 seconds.
16:27 CEST 193.5km/12km to go
Voeckler is battling hard, 45 seconds behind the Armstrong group which has Azevedo,
Rubiera, Basso (looking good), Ullrich, Klöden, Goubert, Totschnig, Mancebo,
Moreau rides past Voeckler. Chavanel and Merckx are a bit ahead.
16:28 CEST 194km/11.5km to go
Rasmussen and Voigt are not going to make it, they're only 40 seconds ahead
of the Armstrong group, where Rubiera is setting a fierce tempo waiting for
Azevedo to take over.
Moreau is passing Merckx and Chavanel now, trying to pick up as many places
Rasmussen and Voigt are really suffering, as is Ullrich at the back of the Armstrong
group. Azevedo takes over the pace making and immediately Ullrich and Leipheimer
16:31 CEST 195km/10.5km to go
Armstrong is left with Azevedo, Basso and Totschnig. Klöden and Mancebo are
chasing them at a short distance.
They catch Rasmussen and Voigt. All over.
16:32 CEST 195.5km/10km to go
Azevedo continues to set a hard pace as Totschnig drops off. Only Basso is left
with Armstrong and his Portuguese teammate with 10 km to go.
Armstrong is looking very comfortable, more so than Basso.
Ullrich looks pretty cooked as he goes past the dropped Rasmussen.
16:34 CEST 196.5km/9km to go
After only 5 km of climbing, we have Armstrong, Azevedo and Basso left with
Totschnig chasing at 20 seconds and then Mancebo and Klöden. Ullrich is with
Pereiro, Leipheimer and Goubert at 40 seconds, Voeckler is at 1'30. He has to
lose 5'20 today to lose the yellow.
The Plateau starts to get a little bit easier after the initial steep sections,
if you can call 7.2 percent "easier".
Totschnig hasn't cracked, and he's about 10 seconds off the back. Klöden and
Mancebo another 10 seconds.
16:37 CEST 197km/8.5km to go
Jose Azevedo is doing exactly the job he was hired for - tow Armstrong as far
as possible up the final climb before his team captain finishes it off. Only
Basso might put a spanner in the works today.
Voeckler, the long haired Karpets and Chavanel are now together, 1'41 behind
Armstrong's trio. Ullrich is at 0'52.
16:41 CEST 198km/7.5km to go
Ullrich is with Goubert, 55 seconds behind Armstrong. No sign of Leipheimer
and Pereiro, who were here just a minute ago.
Armstrong, Azevedo and Basso still lead Totschnig by 5 seconds, then Klöden
and Mancebo, then Ullrich alone. Leipheimer and Pereiro are behind the German.
Azevedo peels off and Armstrong takes over, with Basso stuck to his wheel. Less
than 8 km to go. Basso takes over.
16:42 CEST 198.5km/7km to go
Ullrich is going better now, but he's a minute behind Armstrong and Basso. Meanwhile,
Totschnig passes Azevedo, who is taking it steady now. Then Klöden and Mancebo
Armstrong gets out of the saddle and accelerates, but Basso remains seated and
is not distanced. He has to struggle though.
Ullrich at 1'12, Voeckler at 2'27.
16:45 CEST 199.5km/6km to go
Basso does a turn, so he's having another good day. Armstrong can't get rid
of him yet. Klöden and Mancebo are catching Azevedo. Klöden dumps a water bottle
over his head.
16:46 CEST 200km/5.5km to go
Totschnig is now clearly third on the road, fighting hard at 15 seconds behind
Armstrong and Basso.
Ullrich is at 1'31, so he's going to lose another bucket of time today. He's
not pedalling very fast as the climb steepens to 8.5 percent.
Basso takes over, looking fresh and hungry. Armstrong gets a push from a fan,
who runs for about 300 metres beside the lead duo. There's another nude runner
16:49 CEST 200.5km/5km to go
Ullrich looks pretty cooked, but he's not doing too badly today compared to
yesterday in that he's 7th on the road. But 2'00 back now.
Armstrong goes under 5 km to go, with Basso right on his wheel.
16:50 CEST 201.5km/4km to go
Basso takes over again as the Basque fans cheer them up. It's all orange, all
the time. No Mayo today but this will be fine.
16:52 CEST 201.5km/4km to go
The situation with 4 km to go: Armstrong, Basso lead, with Totschnig at 0'45,
then Mancebo at 1'10, Klöden at 1'15, Azevedo at 1'40, and Ullrich 2'00. Voeckler
is 3'30 back.
The climb flattens out a bit with 4 km to go, but there's still some steepness
Voeckler accelerates past Merckx with 5 km to go. He is 3'55 behind.
16:54 CEST 202.5km/3km to go
Klöden can see Mancebo just in front of him, but he's not catching him. The
Spaniard can see Totschnig, but he's not catching him. Ullrich can see Azevedo,
and he does catch him under the 4 km to go banner
16:55 CEST 202.5km/3km to go
Voeckler is getting huge cheers as he fights for his yellow jersey with 4 km
In front, BAsso and Armstrong are together under the 3 km to go banner. Basso
has ridden fantastically again. Armstrong, well I guess we expected it after
the way his team rode today. Impressive rides from both of them.
16:56 CEST 204km/1.5km to go
Mancebo fights his way past 3 km to go with Totschnig still 30 seconds in front
of him. But the battle for stage honours is between Armstrong and Basso.
16:58 CEST 203.5km/2km to go
Armstrong looks a bit better than Basso today, but who knows? Basso showed yesterday
that he was strong in the final, and probably wouldn't mind another stage win.
Aha, there is a brief chat with 2 km to go.
16:59 CEST 204km/1.5km to go
Totschnig fights his way through the Basque crowds, a minute behind the two
leaders. In front Basso grits his teeth and does another turn.
Voeckler could save his jersey - 4'10 back to Armstrong and Basso. Ullrich is
17:00 CEST 204.5km/1km to go
Ullrich, sixth on the road, fights through the Basque crowds inside the final
2 km. Voeckler has to finish 5 minutes-ish behind order to keep the jersey.
1km to go, and Armstrong and Basso are stuck together. Basso leads.
The road flattens out at the summit as Basso continues in front
17:02 CEST 205.5km/0km to go
Armstrong sits behind with 500m to go, Basso is just riding hard. Armstrong
is ready to take the stage and waits until 150m to go and wins the stage from
Totschnig comes in third at 1'05. Then Klöden and Mancebo are back together,
but it's Klöden who takes fourth ahead of the Spaniard at 1'26. Ullrich fights
hard for sixth, finishing 2'41 back. Azevedo, Moreau(!) and Caucchioli are close
Voeckler is coming - it's 3'30 already.
Simoni in at 3'40, then Pereiro and Goubert and then Voeckler puts his first
up as he crosses 4'42 behind Armstrong. He keeps yellow!!!
Well that's all folks. The stage unfolded more or less as planned for US Postal,
but there were some surprises en route. Great riding by Basso, Voeckler(!),
Rasmussen, Voigt, Chavanel, but the abandons of Hamilton, Menchov, Zubeldia
and almost Mayo were not considered.
Voeckler's ride was amazing to keep the yellow, considering how badly he looked
on the first few climbs. But he only has 22 seconds left of his formerly great
lead over Lance Armstrong, with Ivan Basso in third at 1'39. Andreas Klöden
is the best of the T-Mobile boys in fourth at 3'18, while Ullrich is now in
8th, a relative improvement from yesterday.
McEwen keeps the green and Virenque the spots. See you tomorrow!
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 6.04.38
2 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC
3 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 1.05
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 1.27
5 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto
6 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 2.42
7 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 2.50
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crédit Agricole 2.51
9 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
10 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saeco 3.43
11 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
12 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance
13 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangčre 4.42
General classification after stage 13
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangčre 58.00.27
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 0.22
3 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 1.39
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 3.18
5 Francisco Mancebo Pérez (Spa) Illes Balears - Banesto 3.28
6 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 6.08
7 Jose Azevedo (Por) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 6.43
8 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 7.01
9 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 7.59
10 Sandy Casar (Fra) Fdjeux.com 8.29
the commentary team