Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) proved he can still be a threat to Lance Armstrong's Tour hopes today with a big win in Stage 11.
Riding several minutes ahead of the peloton over a pair of major climbs in the Tour's second day in the Alps, the grim-faced Kazakh still had enough gas at the end to beat Colombian Santiago Botero (Phonak) in an all-out sprint for the finish line.
The stage proved to be a disappointing one for Team CSC as Jens Voigt, who was wearing the yellow jersey just two stages ago, was disqualified from the Tour for finishing outside today's time limit, more than 40 minutes behind the leaders.
Vinokourov's win comes on the heels of a dismal performance Tuesday, where the T-Mobile rider fell off the back of the peloton on the final climb and lost over five minutes to Armstrong. Besting Armstrong today by 1:15, he jumped in the rankings from 16th to 12th, but is still 4:47 behind the reigning champ in the overall standings.
Armstrong, who spent most of the day at the front of the peloton in a cocoon of Discovery Channel riders, finished in sixth place, passing up a chance to sprint for third place and a time bonus that was snatched up by Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole).
In the overall standings, Armstrong is still in yellow, 38 seconds ahead of Rabobank's Mickael Rasmussen in the polka-dot climber's jersey. Moreau's third-place finish today has bumped him above Team CSC's top rider, Ivan Basso. Moreau and Basso are now 2:34 and 2:40 back from Armstrong, respectively.
Riding with Vinokourov for most of the day, and erasing a 45-second deficit in a daring downhill chase in the stage's final miles, Botero jumped from 11th to fifth place overall.
The 107-mile course from Courchevel to Briancon featured the highest climb of the 92nd Tour, the 8,677-foot Col du Galibier, along with another top category climb.
The terrain proved another day of nightmares for the Tour's sprinters, most of whom followed the peloton over the finish line more than a half hour later.
Tom Boonen, still in the green jersey, was involved in yet another crash after just three miles of racing, injuring his knee, according to a live account on the Tour de France's Web site. He later rejoined the peloton.
Voigt, who wore the yellow jersey for one stage this year and placed 35th overall in last year's Tour, came in a dismal 168th place Wednesday as the second to last rider.