:: Friday, August 01, 2003 ::
Last TdF stuff for a while...
So I never finished off what happened. Came down to the time trial on the second to last day: Stage 19 on Saturday July 26th. It was one cyclist against the clock. And it was pouring down rain. Horrible weather. And to make it worse, the French don't have road safety figured out. It turns out that the white lines in the middle of the road, their cross walks and other markers get slick as glass when wet. Now imagine cycling a winding road course at speeds up to 50kph on it for an hour. Yeah you get the idea. Spills thrills and chills. Two racers. It would come down to who stayed in the saddle. Lance and Jan Ullrich . They were racing for everything here. Lance would lose if he fell and could not recover and Jan had nothing to lose. If he didn't make up a minute he was done and would not finish in first place in the following days race to the heart of Paris on the Champs-Elysees.
Thirty two Km into the race Jan was up by two seconds faster than Lance but still over a minute down over all, but the pair were as closely matched as anyone had ever seen. If nothing changed Jan would not catch Lance. Then Jan went into a slight turn in a roundabout ( no intersections there. all traffic islands. Rush hour is fun for sure) and his wheel kicked out and he went down hard enough that sparks were seen from his bike on the pavement as it and Jan skidded easily 40 feet accross the road before slamming into a set of hay bales used as a crash barrier. He got back on the bike with a bit of assistance and was off. But it was obvious he was shaken up and not himself. He was being constantly spooked by his team car following. Each rider has a car with spare bike etc. Jan's was danger close. To the point he had to wive it back more than a few times. Talk about unnerving. You have fallen once and are being followed by a car 20 feet back doing 45kph or better. It was obvious that he had lost his edge he was alot more cautious going into turns and the speed wasn't there. Lance, wearing a radio, got word of what happened and on that turn it was something he avoided, but it was tense watching it till he crossed the finish. There was the chance he could go down. One commentator said nearly 50 of the remaining 150 or so riders had gone down on the course that day. And despite that, Lance and Jan were setting a near record pace for any time trial in the Tour. Almost 54kph!
Jan's crash left him out of contention. It was all math now. He could not catch Lance and Lance could ease up slightly and not risk falling. And he simply had to finish the tour. As Lance crossed the finish line, knew he had sewn it up and there was a smile on his face. He doesn't often show emotion when crossing the finish, but he even pumped his right fist in a victory salute on #5. Oh, and Tyler Hamilton? The guy who had the double collar bone fracture on the early Stage? He finished 4th, just 6 minutes back over 83 hours of riding. Now thats hard core.
1 001 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP in 83h 41' 12"
2 131 ULLRICH Jan GER TBI at 01' 01"
3 028 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL at 04' 14"
4 071 HAMILTON Tyler USA CSC at 06' 17"
5 179 ZUBELDIA Haimar ESP EUS at 06' 51"
6 171 MAYO Iban ESP EUS at 07' 06"
7 081 BASSO Ivan ITA FAS at 10' 12"
8 121 MOREAU Christophe FRA C.A at 12' 28"
9 078 SASTRE Carlos ESP CSC at 18' 49"
10 031 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN at 19' 15"
Final Overall Standings:
Yellow Jersey (Overall) - Lance Armstrong - USPS presented by Berry Floor
Green Jersey (Sprinter) - Baden Cooke - FDJeux.com
Polka Dot Jersey (King of the Mountains) - Richard Virenque - Quick Step
Best Young Rider - Denis Menchov - iBanesto
Team Classification - CSC
:: Mike Wood 20:50 [+] ::