June 09, 2004
Nicolas Portal takes Dauphiné Stage 3; TT Thursday
The peloton was fairly quiet on Wednesday, in preparation for Thursday's major battle on the face of Mont Ventoux. Nicolas Portal of AG2R was the best of an early breakaway. Also surviving the breakaway were Estonian Janek Tombak of Cofidis, who was second on the day, and Iker Flores of Euskaltel-Euskadi, who was third, both 51 seconds behind Portal.
A group of the peloton's strongest riders came in 1:49 back, including Lance Armstrong, Iban Mayo, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and current race leader José Gutierrez, who continues to lead Mayo by 8 seconds, Hamilton by 9, and Armstrong and two of Hamilton's Phonak teammates by 10 seconds.
Mickael Pichon took a serious fall into a ravine on the last descent of the day. He suffered "serious head injuries, with injuries to the left side of the face."
Thursday is a 13.4-mile time trial climbing up Mont Ventoux, and will likely shake up the GC. Armstrong would like a strong showing in advance of the climbing time trial on L'Alpe d'Huez during this year's Tour de France.