Totschnig Wins in the Pyrenees, Armstrong Asserts Dominance Over Rivals
Austrian Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) was the last cyclist to survive a 15-man breakaway group in Stage 14 Saturday, crossing the finish line first almost a minute ahead of six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong on a hot, grueling first day in the Pyrenees.
Georg Totschnig wins Stage 14 in the Pyrenees.Georg Totschnig wins Stage 14 in the Pyrenees.
On the finish line, Totschnig pounded his helmet in seeming disbelief at his first-ever Tour stage victory, and the first for Austria since 1931. He fell to the ground in tears, his legs unable to hold him up after five hours, 43 minutes of mountain racing.
Totschnig had been part of a group that attacked just four miles into the race, and held on over the next 133 miles for the win.
In the chase group, Armstrong decimated his main rivals up the final climb to finish second, capturing a 12-second time bonus and gaining ground over every top-placed rider in the Tour.
One by one, Tour titans Alexandre Vinokourov, Mickael Rasmussen, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, and Jan Ullrich were dropped by Armstrong’s furious uphill pace, leaving only Team CSC’s Ivan Basso left for Armstrong to out-sprint in the final 1,000 feet.
Armstrong had little help from his teammates. Crushed by an early attack by team T-Mobile, the Discovery Channel team disintegrated midway through the race, leaving Armstrong to fend for himself among his would-be usurpers over the day’s two major climbs.
In the overall standings, Armstrong gained one minute and two seconds on Rabobank’s Rasmussen, the current king of the mountains, and closest rider to Armstrong in the standings, 1:41 behind.
Basso trails Armstrong by 2:46, while Ullrich, Landis, and Leipheimer are all more than 4:30 back.
Tomorrow the Tour tackles its fiercest mountain stage. Riders will climb more than 16,000 vertical feet over 128 miles. There are six climbs, five of which are category one or above.