Armstrong Sprints to Stage 15 Win, Wears Yellow
Five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong found himself in a familiar color Tuesday. The U.S. Postal team leader won the 113-mile Stage 15 from Valréas to Villard-de-Lans, surging past the likes of Ivan Basso (CSC) and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) in the last feet of the stage, and snatching the yellow jersey from Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere). Voeckler had worn the yellow jersey for 12 days, the most for any Frenchman since 1991. The win marked Armstrong’s 16th career stage win at the Tour de France and his 61st yellow jersey overall, moving him into third place in most days in yellow, right behind Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.
Armstrong wins Stage 15 and takes the overall leadArmstrong wins Stage 15 and takes the overall lead
Basso finished second on the day while Ullrich placed third while Andréas Klön (T-Mobile) and Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) rounded out the top five. Basso currently stands in second overall, 1:25 behind Armstrong, with Ullrich 6:54 back from the Texan.
It was another grueling day for the Tour, with Euskatel-Euskadi team leader Iban Mayo dropping out of the race before it even started, apparently from fatigue.
We knew he wouldn’t finish the stage today, so we decided it was better for him not to start,” Euskatel general manager Miguel Madariaga told the BBC.
Mayo was originally thought to be a top contender for the Tour title this year, but after a crash in the first week of the Tour, the Spanish rider fell too far off the primary contenders to be a threat to the likes of Armstrong, Ullrich, and Basso.
Multiple attacks on Tuesday found Richard Virenque (Quick Step-Davitamon) and Mickael Rasmussen (Rabobank) out ahead of the main peloton, garnering a lead of just over a minute.
Although an attack by Ullrich gave the T-Mobile team leader a berth of 1:20 over Armstrong, the German didn’t have enough juice to drop him for good.
U.S. Postal gave chase, breaking off a group of riders including Armstrong, Basso, Leipheimer, Floyd Landis (U.S. Postal), José Azevedo (U.S. Postal), Carlos Sastre (CSC), and Jens Voigt (CSC), and closed on the the T-Mobile team leader with about 17 miles left in the race.
A high-powered attack from Armstrong pushed the Texan past Basso and Ullrich to grab him a 20-second time bonus and the win.
Wednesday marks the individual time trial from Bourg d’Oisans to L’Alpe d’Huez, the first-ever individual time trail on the famed mountain. As Armstrong currently stands in first place, he will start last Wednesday.