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July 25, 2004

Stage 20 underway

US Postal is in all new jerseys with yellow trim, and new bikes. Armstrong's is yellow and black, commemorating the "LiveStrong" campaign, with gold spokes, and Armstrong himself is in a gold helmet.

At the first sprint, McEwen sends a teammate early, but Credit Agricole organizes a chase with Thor Hushovd in the rocking chair. McEwen sat in on his wheel, and Erik Zabel made the break, but Stuart O'Grady did not.

Coming to the line, McEwen showed his superior finishing speed, and took the 1st at the sprint, Hushovd 2nd, and Zabel 3rd. At the 2nd sprint on the Champs-Elysees, Thor Hushovd nips McEwen to drop the gap back to 11 points. O'Grady and Zabel didn't factor, so it's down to McEwen and Hushovd, and Hushovd will need to finish a few places higher than McEwen to take the green.

It sounded like Phil Liggett let out with a full Bob Roll-style "Tour day Frantz" during today's stage.

Filippo Simeoni has attacked 4 times, starting with less than 5 miles ridden. All his attacks have been reeled in quickly by US Postal.

Tyler Hamilton will be joining OLN's broadcast team during tonight's prime time coverage, providing commentary on today's stage.

There's a quality group away on the Champs-Elysees, with about 35 seconds on the peloton, which T-Mobile is now driving:

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)
Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak)
Oscar Pereiro (Phonak)
Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo)
Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangère)
Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo)
Mikel Astarloza (AG2R)
Scott Sunderland (Alessio-Bianchi)
Karsten Kroon (Rabobank)
José Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balear-Banesto)

20 kms to ride, and the gap is at 32 seconds. Now it's dropping pretty quickly, with 17 kms to go, it's at 20 seconds. At 12 kms, it's down to about 9 seconds. As they get rabsorbed, Paolo Bettini relaunches, but Jan Ullrich comes to the head of the field, and the breakaway comes back in.

With a lap to go, there's another group off the front. There are 12-15 riders there.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2004 | Permalink

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