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July 21, 2003

Stage 15: Armstrong wins, and gains on Ullrich

If this is the most incredible Tour of recent memory, today's stage is one of the most incredible stages. Every eye was on two riders: Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich.

Ullrich decided not to wait for the final climb to make a move, and rode away from the peloton on the Col du Tourmalet. Armstrong countered, and the two rode together. On the descent from the Tourmalet, most of the leaders regrouped.

Then near the foot of Luz Ardiden, Armstrong hooked a bag with his handlebars, and fell to the pavement. His teammate Jose Luis Rubiera paced Armstrong back to the leaders' group, which soft-pedaled rather than take advantage of Armstrong's misfortune.

Armstrong regrouped and rode away from everybody. Sylvain Chavanel had led the race almost all day, but Armstrong quickly closed the gap, and won the stage (and a 20 second time bonus). Ullrich fought to the line, keeping the gap down to 41 seconds, but Euskaltel's Iban Mayo nipped Jan Ullrich at the line, relegating Ullrich to the 3rd place time bonus.

It was the 16th stage win of Armstrong's career.

Ullrich will start Wednesday's stage trailing Armstrong by 1:07.

1) Armstrong (USPS) 2) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ :41 3) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) same time 4) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) s.t. 5) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) s.t. 6) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ :47 7) Tyler Freaking Hamilton (Team CSC) @ 1:10 8) Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) @ 2:07 9) Jose Luis Rubiera (USPS) @ 2:45 10) Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere) @ 2:47

Overall:

1) Armstrong (USPS) 65:36:23 2) Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) @ 1:07 3) Alexandre Vinokourov @ 2:45 4) Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 5:16 5) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ 5:25 6) Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) @ 8:08 7) Tyler Hamilton (Team CSC) @ 9:02 8) Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) @ 11:09 9) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com) @ 16:05 10) Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) @ 16:12

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2003 in Stage results | Permalink

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Comments

Many skeptics had already concluded that Lance was not in the riding form of the past and that Ullrich was poised to break the spell of Lance's invincability. What we witnessed in stage 15 was one of the greatest displays of will, fortitude and talent we will see in sport anywhere this year. There must be a special award somewhere for such an amazing comeback effort. Lance explained that he had experienced extreme dehydration in the indivual time trial and that it would take several days to resume his fitness level. How well he knew his own body. All said and done, stage 15 will be the highlight of the tour unless something even more special happens in the last individual time trial.

Posted by: marcel perez at Jul 21, 2003 2:59:38 PM