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July 23, 2004

Mercado gets the stage win

BBC SPORT | Mercado makes his mark

Spain takes its second stage win of the Tour, and Quick Step continued a very good Tour with another stage win. Mercado was a little smarter than Vincent Garcia-Acosta as the pair neared the finish.

He was joined by Garcia-Acosta, and the pair worked well together to open a gap that reached 30 seconds before the chasing quartet began to make headway into that lead.

But they held an advantage to the finishing line where Mercado jumped off his rivals wheel to take a memorable first victory in the race, with Fofonov leading the rest of the breakway home 11 seconds down.


BBC Sport | Stage 18 photo gallery

The BBC gallery has a picture of Armstrong riding with Simeoni, and another of him just in front of the T-Mobile led peloton.

Armstrong's message was apparently to both the breakaway: "Don't work with this guy," and to Simeoni: "Any break you get in is a doomed break."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2004 | Permalink


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» Armstrong in the breakaway this morning? from Travis Swicegood's Tour De France 2004
It happened before OLN picked up their live coverage, but Armstrong broke away from the peloton and bridged the one and a half minute gap to the break away. Shortly after which he sat up and headed back to the peloton with Italian cyclist Simeoni in t... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 23, 2004 3:42:39 PM


Armstrong disappointed me a bit today. I know that Armstrong and Simeoni aren't on the best of terms these days, but I felt his "message" today was somewhat beneath the champion, in spite of the pending lawsuit.

I have been rooting for him unreservedly until now, but that seemed a little petty. I still want him to win #6, though.

Posted by: Randy at Jul 23, 2004 1:03:32 PM

It is an apparently petty gesture, but one that's been made by almost all the big champions -- Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, they all dictated what was to happen in their Tours to greater or lesser extent. In fact, Armstrong's been criticized for NOT doing this in past Tours.

Posted by: Andy at Jul 23, 2004 2:10:56 PM

I think it's nice to see some serious fire from Lance this year. He hasn't been a Badger, he's been a freakin' RABID badger. In the tradition of giving each win a moniker, i.e., "The Year of the Team," I think this year's Tour should be known as "The Year of the Big F- You."

Posted by: Larry at Jul 23, 2004 2:28:14 PM

also, we don't know all the facts. we don't know what simeoni had been doing/saying behind the scenes, why he was breaking away at that point, if HIS move was an in-your-face type thing, exactly what lance's point was, etc. the notion that this was a gratuitous gesture, that lance was being petty, is simply speculation (though it could very well be true).

what we know is that lance simply said a lot of riders in the peloton were grateful for what he did, and he was looking out for the peloton. obfuscation? maybe. but if lance wanted to screw with simeoni he could have said a lot more than that in the post-race interview, and he usually does when the topic is an opponent.

i, for one, am not in a position to say where lance's masterful head games should stop and where it's ok. also, it's nice to see him get out of the saddle and do some mixing it up this tour (i'm speaking of the stunning sprints we've seen in other stages as well).

Posted by: bszob at Jul 23, 2004 2:31:25 PM

I actually think it's rather funny, and added some spice to an otherwise humdrum stage for the top-GC guys.

Oh, my favorite part of yesterday's dramatic stage 17 sprint was the overhead shot of Andreas Klöden, just meters from crossing the finish line, and then suddenly at lower left of the frame, first the shadow and then the streaking yellow of Armstrong coming out of nowhere to blow past the German just at the line. Unbelievable. The road-level shots simply don't do justice to the closing speed at the finish - reminiscent of those military shots of Sidewinder missiles catching up with their target aircraft. Swish...Kaboom!

Posted by: Eric the Red at Jul 23, 2004 2:58:22 PM

Eric: Agreed. The overhead shots were amazing --- first of Kloden's break, and then of Lance's mad dash. They really do give a much better sense of speed and distance on the sprints. When I saw the overhead shot of Kloden's break, I agreed with Phil Liggett -- it looked like there was no way anyone would catch him. Getting a sense of how far ahead Kloden manged to get just made Lance's dash to victory even more amazing. Hope we get more shots from that angle at the finishes next year.

Posted by: Larry at Jul 23, 2004 3:09:26 PM

Lance went all alpha male on the peloton... I guess he earned his nickname 'el jefe/the boss' today!

Posted by: lancefan at Jul 23, 2004 8:56:44 PM

First: sorry for my english, i am not american.
Second: I think what Lance did was stupid and petty. Such a champion wouldn't do thing like that. You know the story: the Italian guy admited to have used EPO, through Dr Ferrari, an Italian physician. That's it. He didn't said a word about Armstrong. Problem: Ferrari was, also, working for Armstrong, and Lance didn't accept that someone attacked his physical adviser. In Le Monde, a french daily, Lance said Simeoni was a "absolute liar". And, then the Italian sued him for defamation, arguying that his honor was the last thing he can save. End of the story.
Except that, since the lawsuit, Armstrond wants Simeoni to quit cycling... He said to him he will be there to ruin his career. That's were I can't agree. This huge champion shouldn't bother to humiliate this poor guy, who has already admitted his failure (EPO), had paid for it (suspension, loss of revenues), and his still trying to make a living with his bike. It seems that the multimillionaire Armstrong wants, also, see Simeoni flat broke... It's ridiculous. And not very good for the popularity of Armstrong: in the European press, he is very criticized for what he did yesterday.

Posted by: Chris at Jul 24, 2004 1:27:10 PM

Having read the velo news story re: stage 18 and the dispute w/ Simeoni, this sport has just gone down several notches in my estimation. Think about it, why does the peloton close ranks behind Lance and insult Simeoni over something so petty? It is not the sign of a group that lives cleanly and feels free to speak and think openly; it is the sign of a group that has something to hide and has closed ranks. That incident just said volumes about the true state of pro cycling.

Posted by: jpinmaryland at Jul 24, 2004 3:29:34 PM

Chris, you are right (and your English is just fine!!). I regret my own comment above yours yesterday. I made it a bit cavalierly before having learned details of the incident.

Posted by: lancefan at Jul 24, 2004 9:29:39 PM