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July 23, 2004

Stage 18 underway

No big surprises today, as a break of 6 men is 11 minutes ahead of the peloton with less than 20 kilometers/12 miles to race. Nobody in the break is a real threat, and it looks like they'll stay away.

They are:
Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick Step)
Vincente Garcia-Acosta (Illes Balears-Banesto)
Dmitriy Fofonov (Cofidis)
Marc Lotz (Rabobank)
Sebastian Joly (Credit Agricole)
Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo)

Flecha and Garcia-Acosta have won stages in the past (Flecha's last year). Joly was the last-placed rider for much of the race, and is 2nd-to-last now; if the move survives, he'll move out of contention for the lanterne rouge.

Joly makes a quick attack, is brought back, and Mercado goes for it; Fofonov, then Garcia-Acosta went after him. Only Garcia-Acosta gets across, and he and Mercado are a few seonds ahead. Joly fell off the back, then caught back up, so Fofonov, Flecha, Lotz, and Joly are chasing Mercado and Garcia-Acosta, who have about 25 seconds in hand.

Fofonov is falling off the chasers, who are 17 seconds behind with 1 kilometer to ride. Garcia-Acosta leads Mercado with 500 meters, Juan Miguel Mercado starts the sprint, and he holds off Garcia-Acosta at the line!

Fofonov 3rd, Joly 4th.

Back with the field, Sandy Casar is on the attack, with about 10 kms to ride, looking to move up in the white jersey, where he's 3rd behind Voeckler and Vladimir Karpets.

Lance Armstrong went on a little sight-seeing expedition this morning, when Filippo Simeoni, the rider who has said he will sue Armstrong for defamation, tried to bridge to the leaders. Armstrong went with him and the two rode across to the lead group, which then was only about 2 minutes ahead of the peloton. Once they caught the leaders, the two rode along briefly, then sat up and dropped back to the field.

Phonak's Nicolas Jalabert was in the break when it got away, but has fallen back through the field and is suffering at the rear of the peloton now.

Apparently, yesterday's abandon by Michele Bartoli of CSC was a little more colorful than reported. Bartoli, who will ride for Italy in the Olympics, got in the early break, but Bjarne Riis ordered him to come back to help protect Ivan Basso. Bartoli came back, but was so displeased he abandoned, and threw his bike in a ditch at the feed zone! As Liggett said, "Looks like he won't be back with CSC next year."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004 | Permalink


Great site .....please keep up the great work!

mac, pa

Posted by: mac at Jul 23, 2004 10:32:06 AM

Wow, so what exactly was going on with Armstrong and Simeoni? More dirt please.

Posted by: scott at Jul 23, 2004 11:43:40 AM

From VeloNews' daily coverage:

2:13 pm - You may have guessed by now that the Armstrong chase of Simeoni had nothing to do with a GC threat from a man mired in 114th at 2:42:50 off of the lead. Simeoni had earlier testified in the ongoing case against Michele Ferrari, saying that the Italian doctor taught him to use EPO and to cover up its use. Armstrong, a long-time client of Ferrari, called Simeoni a liar and the Italian is now poised to sue the five-time Tour winner. This was purely personal. The message to the men in the break must have been a clear warning that if they leave his arch-enemy up there, they have no hope of making the effort stick.

Posted by: Frank at Jul 23, 2004 11:55:26 AM

lance is the master of head games, pure and simple. and he aced simeoni on this one. basically, the breakway riders knew they had zero chance of winning the stage with lance in their group, and lance was glued to simeoni. so they asked simeoni to leave -- they forced him back to the main pack. executed perfectly by lance, who will likely face simeoni in court soon.

from the ap:

Armstrong, his rivals thoroughly beaten, was so relaxed he even had time during the 103.2-mile stage to tend to a little personal animosity with an Italian rider who has taken legal action against him.

Even though Filippo Simeoni represents no threat to Armstrong's imminent Tour victory, the five-time champion appeared determined not to let the Italian get ahead.

Armstrong, in a highly unusually move for a rider who is generally extremely careful, at one point surged off with Simeoni in pursuit of Mercado's escape group. They caught that group, stayed with them for a few minutes, and then suddenly eased up and waited for the trailing pack to catch up.

"It was bizarre, really strange," Mercado said.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Armstrong to act as he did. But an official from Armstrong's team suggested the champion's motives were personal.

Simeoni, an Italian with the Domina Vacanze squad, has testified against controversial sports doctor Michele Ferrari, with whom Armstrong has ties. Ferrari faces accusations of providing performance-enhancing substances to riders.

"It surely had something to do with what has happened," said Johan Bruyneel, sports manager of Armstrong's team. "Nobody was expecting it, and it wasn't planned, either."

Simeoni told an Italian court in 2002 that Ferrari advised him to take performance enhancers.

Armstrong was cryptic is explaining his motives for chasing Simeoni.

"I was protecting the interests of the peloton," he said, referring to the main pack. "Other riders were very, very thankful."

Sebastien Joly, a French rider who was in the escape group, said: "I think it was a reaction of pride on Armstrong's part."

The escape riders knew that their chances of winning the stage were nil while Armstrong was with them. So they asked Simeoni to leave, Joly explained.

"When he let go, Lance had the kindness to do the same thing," he said.

Posted by: bszob at Jul 23, 2004 12:59:51 PM

So Lance is a bully, too? That seems like a petty action for a guy that has nothing to prove. I guess he's so good because of that killer instinct. Like bszob said, Lance is the king of head games - I bet Simeoni is furious.

Posted by: Dusty at Jul 23, 2004 3:25:25 PM

To all you Lance Armstrong hypocrites, I hope you all read this message and sit back and think about it before you pass judgement, for with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. You see, judging others has consequences.
To engage in the reckless judgemental attitudes that Jesus condemns means that we set ourselves up as GOD. We must remember that GOD is the ultimate judge of all things. We seldom have all the facts. What LA does with his life has nothing to do with any of us, he has more heart and guts than most of us will ever have in our lifetime. We seldom can look into any situation, like the one LA is in with his marriage, and being criticised to using drugs and really see it for what it is. We certainly cannot look into someone's heart. Only GOD can do these things. Therefore, only GOD is qualified to judge. We can evaluate certain things, and we should. But we must always remember that our evaluation is unreliable. Therefore, we must never engage in the kind of absolute criticism and condemnation that so many people do. When we do, we set ourselves up as GOD. And Jesus says that you will be judged. "JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED" means we shall reap in this world exactly as we sow; that if we defame others, we also shall be defamed; that if we refrain from rashly condemning others, we shall ourselves be spared the experience.
For Christ to declare that such conduct will meet with Divine judgement is a warning which should make us all stop and think. Our Lord delares that the more rigidly or strictly we judge others, the more strictly will GOD judge us. So go forth Lance, and kick some tour ass!!!

Posted by: TCampbell at Jul 23, 2004 3:55:46 PM

"Our Lord delares that the more rigidly or strictly we judge others, the more strictly will GOD judge us. So go forth Lance, and kick some tour ass!!!"

Wow. That's certainly a memorable juxtaposition.

Posted by: Christopher at Jul 23, 2004 3:59:13 PM

TCampbell, you scare me.

Posted by: Dusty at Jul 23, 2004 4:31:17 PM

Lance just showed some of his true character out there in S18. I lost a lot of respect for him, what a pathetic bully he has shown himself to be. I admire his physical conquests, but he's not the kind of person I'd want to have anything to do with.

Posted by: AMD at Jul 27, 2004 10:44:17 AM