July 20, 2003
Daily Peloton awards their daily "Golden Hams" and "Ham-Gazers" for Stage 14.
Among the Golden:
Alexandre "The Great" Vinokourov (Telekom) and Iban "Miracle Whip" Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi). They took advantage of the Armstrong/Ullrich chess match to fly up the road and take more time. They attacked up the final climb, and even though Mayo followed, Armstrong simply sat on Ullrich and forced the big German to make the pace. Vinokourov finished the stage in 6th at 41", and he took 43" out of Armstrong and Ullrich; by the end of the day, he was still in 3rd on GC but only 18" behind Armstrong and 3" behind Ullrich. With his ride today, Vinokourov now looks like a cinch for the final step of the podium. Mayo finished on Vinokourov's wheel, and moved up into 5th on GC at 4' 37". With the rides of Mayo and Zubeldia in this Tour, it seems more and more likely that a sponsor will step up to the plate and take over the team when Euskaltel stops their support next year.
Among the Gazers:
"RoboJan" Ullrich (Bianchi) and Lance "El Jefe" Armstrong (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). While they stared each other down over the oven, Vinokourov almost snuck in to steal the pie today. Armstrong just sat on Ullrich when Vinokourov flew up the road, and Ullrich seemed to be just riding tempo so as to not blow up and make himself vulnerable to an attack from the Texan. They worked well together on the descent to limit Vino's gains, and calculated their efforts pretty precisely, but for a minute it looked like Vinokourov might be in Yellow by the end of the stage. Tomorrow is the final uphill finish of the Tour, and the last chance for these two to take time on each other and their other rivals before the final time trial next Saturday. Lance has yet to attack in this Tour, and tomorrow will be his last chance. With the top three riders within 18" of each other, the climb up Luz-Ardiden will be an all-out, no-holds-barred brawl. I'm already on the edge of my seat. But Lance and Ullrich better not depend on their ability to take so much time out of Vinokourov in the final time trial, or he could spoil their fun altogether.
If you get OLN, tomorrow would be a great day to call in sick.
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