July 24, 2005
Stage 21 underway
The big sprint for 5th place comes up, and Gerolsteiner puts 4 men on Vinokourov, with a kilometer to ride.
Vinokourov keeps pushing the pace, and they drop off his wheel, until finally, it's Vino, Leipheimer on his wheel, and Wegmann behing. Leiphimer makes a small attempt to come around Vino at maybe 150 meters, but just doesn't have the legs to match the big Kazakh. Vinokourov is first at the sprint line, then Leipheimer, moving them into a virtual tie for 5th overall. Sherwen and Liggett say that Leipheimer leads by .07 seconds on the GC.
There's one more intermediate sprint, with 3 laps of the Champs Elysees to go.
Three Discovery riders go down on the greasy roads, going over some lane striping. Armstrong had to plant a foot to avoid getting tangled. By the way, Discovery's riders are wearing distinctive jerseys with yellow right sleeves.
Organizers have chosen to neutralize the field and give them all the time at the first crossing of the finish line on the Champs Elysees, where the cobbles would be particularly dangerous.
That won't equal the finish of the stage, however, as riders will still complete the full 8 laps for the stage win and the intermediate sprint bonus.
The field is through, so Armstrong has won this Tour. Even if he were to crash out now, his margin is big enough to survive any time bonuses.
Three big competitions to go: Will Vinokourov steal into 5th overall? Who will win the green jersey? Who will take the stage?
Vino will not - organizers have cancelled the remaining time bonuses, so that fraction of a second holds up for Levi Leipheimer, and Vino will be 6th. Update: That was mistaken; there was no 2nd intermediate sprint, but judges did award time for the finishing sprint.
Hushovd can hold the green jersey by finishing 7th or higher in the finishing sprint.
There have been a number of probing attacks, but for nothing. With 2 laps to ride, Bram Tankink and Chris Horner have 15 seconds on the peloton, and that's likely doomed, as well. Davitamon-Lotto and Cofidis are chasing. The gap is down around 10 seconds. Horner and Tankink are captured with 9 k to ride.
Bertogliati, Jorg Jaksche and a Fassa Bortolo (probably Cancellara) are dangling ahead of the field., and they're caught.
Brochard and Vinokourov go off the front, doing their all to deny the sprinters. Vinokourov is pulling the full field. An Ag2R is with him. They've gapped the field. Brad McGee bridges, then attacks off his wheel. McGee and Vino sprint toward the line, and Vinokourov! Alexandre Vinokourov takes his 2nd stage win, beating the sprinters!
And the judges have apparently awarded Vinokourov the finish line time bonus, which would knock Leipheimer down to 6th. OLN's explanations must have been off on the bonuses.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2005 | Permalink
I hope Leipheimer doesn't lose his 5th place. That would suck. Even though Vinokourov rode like a man possessed.
Posted by: Devans at Jul 24, 2005 11:44:48 AM