July 22, 2003
USPS team spokesman Jogi Mueller is quoted saying Armstrong has no lasting ill effects from Monday's crash:
"The team staff checked him out, but he looks great and he's feeling good after the big ride Monday. He didn't feel worse overnight, so that's a good sign because normally if you're hurt in a crash you feel it the next morning," Mueller said.
US Postal still has no idea what's causing Roberto Heras breathing difficulties. A quick X-ray and checkup at a French hospital didn't turn anything up.
Also, Jan Ullrich expressed some displeasure with the Euskaltel riders, who contested a sprint at the end of Monday's stage:
"I don't understand the actions of Mayo to sprint for second place. What does he need the time bonus for? This gesture is not very sporting because I was doing all the work on the climb without receiving relief from anyone and later he attacked me," Ullrich said. "At least Zubeldia was a gentleman."
I don't think Zubeldia intended to be "a gentleman" -- it looked to me like Jan just beat him at the line (they had to go to the photo to verify who won).
Nice wrapup of the race at this point, including special recognition for those domestiques who have been especially valuable in this Tour, including Manuel Beltran and Jose Luis Rubiera for USPS, Brad McGee for FDJeux.com, and Paolo Bettini and Michael Rogers at QuickStep-Davitamon.
It is not a stretch to say that Postal's acquisition of Beltran from Ullrich's squad right before the Tour may be one of the decisive factors in this race. Ullrich has often been isolated in the mountains, and if he had Beltran working for him instead of for Armstrong, this Tour might have had a different script.
Samuel Abt profiles Sammarye Lewis, who he calls Armstrong's "most fervent" fan.
Forget the guy draped in the American flag who sometimes runs alongside the four-time champion as he labors uphill. Forget the fellow who wears what appear to be steer horns to celebrate Armstrong's Texas heritage. Pay no attention to the man wearing and selling "Lance Is God" T-shirts.
From tip to toe, nobody equals Sammarye Lewis.
Lewis, who wouldn't disclose her age, has "Go Lance" tattooed on her left calf, and had her left index finger painted yellow, to go with her nails, one of which is a US flag, another (a toe) yellow with a 5 and the Texas Lone Star.
Wednesday's 197.5km stage 16 from Pau to Bayonne, across two first category climbs, offers Armstrong the chance to consolidate his lead - or his attackers a last-gap opportunity to claw back some vital seconds.
But the last big climb, the Col de Bagargui, is 87km from the finish, and the long, flat run-out should offer chasing teams plenty of time to reel in a breakaway.
"I doubt there will be any change in the overall standings, unless Ullrich does some sort of epic," said Britain's former Tour rider and Team CSC number two Sean Yates, speaking to this [BBC Sport] website.
"It's a long way from the top of the climb to the finish and Lance will rally the troops and chase him down."
Yates also estimates that Ullrich could take 20-30 seconds from Armstrong in the flattish time trial on Saturday, but not 67 seconds.
Millar had been going well up until stage 13 when he lost over nine minutes on the first Pyrénéan stage from Toulouse to Ax Trois Domaines.
However it was on the 14th stage from St Girons to Loudenvielle over six difficult climbs that Millar dropped most time, going from being 18 minutes adrift of Lance Armstrong to 49 minutes behind.
It was also in the Pyrénées that Millar's cough got worse, and his continued participation in the race - which is not being helped by his low standing of 39th, at 1:24:40 - is still hanging in the balance.
"I'm still pretty sick but one thing's for sure - I'll be at the start for Wednesday's stage because it's imperative that I make it to Bayonne," Millar said after arriving in a fit of coughing nearly 35 minutes behind stage winner Armstrong on Monday.
"To sum up the situation, let's say that Lance Armstrong should win the Tour de France and that I could do it," he said, emphasising his words carefully.
"Everything remains possible and I'm still very motivated about going for final victory. I will do everything I can to attack him as there is only one minute between us," he added in his hotel in Pau during the second rest day.
The Rostock rider will need his Bianchi team mates once more on Wednesday in the last mountain stage which, although it ends with a long 80 km flat stretch, will force the peloton over two more first category climbs.
I have my doubts that Ullrich will attack tomorrow. The descent is 87km (more than 50 miles), and that would give the Postals lots of time to bring back a breakaway. Seems like the best percentage move for Big Jan is to roll the dice in the individual time trial on Saturday, and ride a millimeter short of his heart blasting out of his chest.
Rest day photos
French cycling fan Guy Morlanne, 18, rides with Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the rest day. I did 36 miles this morning, and didn't get to ride with anyone cooler than a local chef....
After five days of very dramatic racing, the Tour de France stopped on Tuesday for its second rest day. With sixteen stages behind them and just five to go, there are now 151 riders in the race of the 198 starters. As usual, the Tour has shown itself to be a race of elimination, and there are now realistically only two riders able to win the race in Paris next Sunday, as Jeff Jones writes.
Agence France Presse has a story updating the fight for the green jersey, which will move back into the limelight as the race exits the Pyrenees tomorrow, and runs some flat stages up toward Paris.
Aussies Robbie McEwen (2nd) and Stuart O'Grady (5th) trail fellow Aussie Baden Cooke in the competition, with Norway's Thor Hushovd 3rd, and six-time green jersey winner Erik Zabel 4th.
While McEwen's Lotto team have struggled in their climbing the past few days - Belgian Hans De Clercq came last for the second day in a row on Monday and Australian Nick Gates is finding the going "really hard" - Cooke's troops seem to be going slightly better.
And the 24-year-old Fdjeux.com sprinter admitted it had been partly by default that the likes of Brad McGee and Carlos Da Cruz had been told their only job was to protect his lead in the points competition.
"Well that was sort of forced upon them because of the fact they weren't getting any results," Cooke laughed as he made his way back down the mountain.
"Some of the guys who were on GC (general classification) weren't going so good so they've just put it all on to me."
In previous years, Lance Armstrong's wife Kristin has contributed a column to the official Lance Armstrong website. The couple separated in February, so no column this year. There is, however, an interview with Kristin up at LanceArmstrong.com, with an update on the situation with her and with their children.
Update 9/4/03: Lance and Kristin Armstrong have announced plans to divorce.
cyclingnews.com continues their series on five-time Tour winners with a profile of 'Le Blaireau' (The Badger), Bernard Hinault:
It's too easy to play the game of 'might-have-been' with the careers of great champions such as Hinault, but it's still tempting to say that had it not been for his knee problems, he was the rider most able to win six or even seven Tours.
Check out the Rupert Guinness column at VeloNews on the riders who for whatever reason can't hang in the mountains:
The stage was barely a little over an hour old - 1:13 p.m. to be precise - when the first abandon was announced. That was number 52, Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli (Saeco). And Colombian Santiago Botero (Telekom) and Sylvain Chavanel (Brioche La Boulangère) had not even launched their daylong two-up attack.
Not that their move wasn't long from being unleashed. By the time the pair rode off to their fate with a tail wind pushing them toward the Pyrénées, the names of many more riders being dropped from the pack became commonplace.
The dropped riders became more regular as the day wore on and as many of them chased to get back on to groups, were dropped, chased again, dropped, chased, dropped and chased - until finally they reached the mist-covered high-altitude finish line in Luz-Ardiden, hoping that somehow they had made it within the time limit.
A look at who finished in the laughing group at 34 minutes and 44 seconds will tell you who many of the stragglers were. A few surprises too: one of the biggest being Sunday's stage 14 winner and Giro d'Italia champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco).
Monday's performance only enhanced Armstrong's reputation as one of cycling's all-time greats.
Following a disappointing display in Friday's time trial, the American's reign looked as though it was coming under serious threat.
But just when his obituaries were about to written, he bounced back in stunning fashion to leave no-one in any doubt about his pedigree.