July 20, 2003
John Wilcockson of VeloNews looks ahead to tomorrow's run up Luz-Ardiden:
The last time that the Tour ended a stage at Luz-Ardiden, in 2001, Armstrong and Ullrich shook hands as they crossed the finish line. The two rivals had ridden together up the last Pyrénéan peak a day after Armstrong had sown up the race at Pla d'Adet.
At this year's Tour, going into Monday's stage 15 that ends at Luz-Ardiden, there will be no shaking of hands. The Tour has never been as finely poised as it is right now, with Armstrong, Ullrich and Vinokourov separated by only 18 seconds on GC. Luz-Ardiden, the final mountaintop finish of this Tour, can decide which of the three still has the strength to win this thriller of a Tour.
Wilcockson also relates the importance of Luz-Ardiden in Greg LeMond's Tour career. In 1985, LeMond was forced to soft-pedal, to keep him from threatening team leader Bernard Hinault's (ultimately successful) bid for a fifth Tour. In 1990, LeMond stamped his name on the race by dropping Claudio Chiappucci on the climb. Only Pedro Delgado's faithful lieutenant, Miguel Indurain, could stay with LeMond, nipping him at the line for the stage win.
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Well, we certainly have a race this year, which it can't really be said we've had the last two if not three years. Still, I confess I'd rather Lance's lead be, oh, 15 minutes rather than 15 seconds. :-)
Posted by: Brian at Jul 20, 2003 8:05:43 PM
And to think the American population is considered ignorant outside of the US. Jim's view that nothing non-american is either good nor should be of any interest certainly gives credibility to this saddening view. Thanks for digging this hole ever so deeper for those of us Americans who are open minded enough to appreciate the inspirational tidbits that the general mass does not gravitate towards.
Posted by: Marcello at Jul 22, 2004 1:36:06 PM