July 14, 2004
Virenque takes stage, polka-dots on Bastille Day
Richard Virenque pulled off a trademark long breakaway on the Tour's first truly mountainous stage, and took a stage win in Saint Flours.
It was Virenque's 7th career stage win, and by taking 1st place in each of the 9 king of the mountain contests today, he moves into the lead for the polka-dot jersey, which he's won 6 times. Like Lance Armstrong, Virenque is looking to set a new career record this year, by becoming the first 7-time King of the Mountains.
Virenque's 200-km breakaway, first in a group of 18, then with Axel Merckx, and finally alone, is one of the longest in Tour history. I'll be wearing my polka-dot jersey pin today -- that was a hell of a ride.
After 5:19, the peloton approached the finish. On the finish line, T-Mobile's Andreas Kloden led in Erik Zabel, who will score some green jersey points, then Francisco Mancebo, yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler, then Lance Armstrong, right among the leaders. Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, and Jan Ullrich were a few meters back, but in the same time. Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer were caught behind a gap on the finish, and lost 7 seconds in the overall, but that's no big deal.
1) Virenque (Quick Step)
2) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile)
3) Erik Zabel (T-Mobile)
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears)
5) Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere)
Virenque moves into 4th overall, and some of the flatlanders are starting to move down the GC. About half the peloton came in 24:24 back of Virenque. Au revoir, Magnus!
Thomas Voeckler remains the race leader for at least another day, capping a terrific Bastille Day for French cycling. The GC:
1. Thomas Voeckler
2. Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) at 3:00
3. Sandy Casar (fdjeux.com) at 4:13
4. Richard Virenque at 6:52
5. Jakob Piil (CSC) at 7:31
6. Lance Armstrong at 9:35
7. Erik Zabel at 9:58
8. Jose Azevedo (US Postal) at 10:04
9. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) at 10:09
10. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 10:18
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Looks like Phonak is making quite an impression......they've got 4 riders in the top 15 places of the overall classification. Tyler Hamilton is only 43 seconds down of Lance and ahead of Ullrich.
The big unknown is Voeckler......he didn't fade today in the mountains.....must make Lance a little nervous with a relatively anonymous rider challenging him. He likes to know his enemies.
Posted by: Phonak Phourever at Jul 14, 2004 11:28:50 AM