June 10, 2004
Battle on the mountain
Cyclingnews.com has a good profile of Mont Ventoux, the role it will play in the Dauphiné Libéré and the role it has played in the Tour de France. The mountain itself is remarkable, as barren as the moon, and makes a dramatic setting for a bicycle race.
Ventoux is where Tom Simpson died in 1967, where the Armstrong-Pantani minifeud began (did he let Marco win, or was it a sign of disrespect?) in 2000. In 2002, Armstrong set the unofficial record up the mountain, 50 minutes chasing (but not catching) Richard Virenque.
Tyler Hamilton won a road stage of the Dauphiné Libéré here in 2000.
Who will conquer Ventoux this year? At the pre-race press conference, Lance Armstrong said, "with the uphill time trial on le Mont Ventoux, it will be a great test for me before the Tour de France." Armstrong desperately wanted to win on Ventoux in 2002, and needs to measure his progress toward his attempt on a sixth Tour de France victory in July. For Armstrong, that victory will almost certainly have to include another mountain time trial, up Alpe d'Huez in the Tour's stage 16. Who could resist a crack at a double that will probably never to be repeated, time trials up Ventoux and l'Alpe in the same year?
We'll know in a few hours.
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