July 18, 2004
Stage 14: 200km Carcassonne to Nîmes
Today's a flat stage along the Mediterranean coast. The biggest technical difficulty is likely to come from the strong coastal winds and the heat.
These coastal stages often lead to successful breakaways, but the sprinters' teams may work to keep that from happening, since this is the flattest stage until Paris a week from today.
Intermediate sprints at 53km and 166.5km, and sprint points at the finish, could shake up the green jersey race, currently led by Robbie McEwen.
Yesterday's stage was a bloodbath, with 1 rider not starting (Marinangeli of Domina Vacanze) and 5 not finishing (Tyler Hamilton, Haimar Zubeldia, Denis Menchov, plus Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann and Saeco's Gerrit Glomser) the stage. There are 160 riders left at today's start of 188 in the prologue.
Thomas Voeckler is likely to hold the yellow jersey at least through tomorrow's rest day.
Starting Stage 14, it's:
Mickael Rasmussen wears the blue number tag of the most aggressive rider.
The battle for the lanterne rouge is heating up. Credit Agricole's Sébastian Joly has been in last place overall for days, but yesterday, could manage only 2nd-to-last, as Jimmy Casper of Cofidis lost 5:35 or more to the entire rest of the field, coming in 47:55 behind Armstrong and Basso.
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