:: Monday, July 21, 2003 ::
TdF Stage 15
Wow! What a Stage! Incredible. The hunters and the hunted. Chasing. Classy performance. A huge lead. And crowds. I can't say more as I know someone might read this who is taping the evening show. I taped it this morning so I know what is what. That was a Pyrenee mountain stage. That was as good a race as I have ever seen. It's what's inside that counts.
So what happened on that climb up Luz-Ardiden? Jan Ullrich, Iban Mayo and Lance were all in the lead - actually there was a French rider Chavanel too, but more later. On their way up the last climb of the day, the 17km climb to Luz-Ardiden, they and other riders were attacking and testing Lance. Part ways up, Lance was counterattacking and in the lead. Thick crowds on the curves. Lance and Iban Mayo close in on the corners and BAM! Lance goes down as his break handle is hooked accidentally on a musette, the small feeding bags the riders sling around their necks. A spectator was holding one and when it hooked Lance it turned his front wheel 90 degrees. He was down hard. Iban Mayo was on top of him and Jan ullrich narrowly escaped being a third down.
The lead group pass the downed riders. Then when Jan is taking the lead, Tyler Hamilton of CSC, and a former team mate on USPS told the lead group to slow down. Honour is not dead in this sport. Apparently it's bad form to take an advantage of a rider downed like that. And a couple of years ago Lance had waited for Jan when he was down in a crash. Tyler was gently reminding him that this was payback time. I was very impressed. Not something you see everyday - or any day. So Lance, back in the saddle takes off and then out of his saddle and pumping hard, a peddle comes loose and he smashes his nads on the top tube hard. Got to hurt. Theory at the time was that the pedal was broken. Turns out it was just not quite set and he was not settled. Then Lance took off and caught the pack, and passed the pack out of the saddle. And kept going. Chase group could not catch the bloodied Armstrong. 4km to go and he passes Chevanel, the French rider who had lead the race for most of the day. He have him a genuine 'good job' pat on the back as he passed him and kept on going for the stage win.
Oh, when Lance didn't so so well in the individual time trial a couple of days ago? He was severely dehydrated. And by severely, I mean that over 47KM he lost upwards of 13 lbs. All sweat. Not exactly on his game. People have died after losing that much water...
And speaking of water. Damn rain.... No ride today. And I was bushed the day before. upwards of 160km for me this month. No wonder. I am no where that in shape that I don't need a day off now and then!
:: Mike Wood 22:54 [+] ::