Armstrong drives through heat for 2nd, extends lead

Advantage grows to 1:41

Totschnig wins Stage 14 on searing Pyrenees day

Tour De France

July 17, 2005|By Diane Pucin | Diane Pucin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

AX-3 DOMAINES, France - This time, he did it alone. Lance Armstrong rode to the summit at this Pyrenees ski resort without a Discovery Channel Team escort. He broke the endurance of Alexandre Vinokourov, Christophe Moreau, Andreas Kloeden, Floyd Landis and even climbing specialist Mickael Rasmussen.

It took a little longer until Jan Ullrich was left behind, and it wasn't until the last few meters he was able to surge ahead of Ivan Basso. With sweat dripping from his arms and legs and without a silver- and blue-clad teammate in sight, Armstrong finished second in yesterday's 137-mile 14th stage of the Tour de France.

His overall lead over Rasmussen grew from 38 seconds to 1:41. Basso is third, 2:46 behind; Ull- rich is fourth, 4:34 back; Vinokourov fell to ninth overall, 7:09 behind.

"Lance was strong," Vinokourov said. "But we'll keep attacking."

Americans Levi Leipheimer and Landis moved up to fifth and sixth, respectively, enhancing the possibility that two U.S. cyclists could be on the podium for the first time when the Tour finishes in Paris a week from today.

Georg Totschnig became only the second Austrian in history to win a stage when he held off Armstrong and Basso and climbed the final summit in heat that was greater than 95 degrees most of the afternoon. Totschnig won in 5 hours, 43 minutes, 43 seconds, some 56 seconds ahead of Armstrong.

After throwing his arms in the air, Totschnig, 34, fell to the hot pavement and wept.

"I had an extraordinary day," he said. "I didn't think it was possible for me to win a stage like that with Lance Armstrong chasing me. On the last kilometer, I shut off my brain. I just pedaled and pedaled."

Last week, when Armstrong's teammates lost contact with their leader during a stage, Armstrong said it would be a problem if it happened again.

Indeed, it happened again yesterday, with Discovery Channel mountain specialist Manuel Beltran out of the Tour with a concussion when T-Mobile made several attacks.

The final one came during the day's steepest climb, a 9.4-mile ascent of Port de Pailheres, when Vinokourov led T-Mobile on its final attempt to cut Armstrong's advantage. Soon, Armstrong was the only Discovery Channel rider near the front.

"It's scary when you see an entire team go to the front and ride as hard as they can," Armstrong said. "Naturally, you fear that situation. You either fight back or run away. I wasn't going to run away and I was motivated to not be gotten down by the tactic. But they did a good job. If I was the director, I'd make the same call."

Two years ago, Armstrong struggled on this same climb in similar heat. It turned out he was suffering from dehydration. It was the closest he has come to losing during his six-year domination of the Tour.

On the final climb, with Totschnig riding alone to the finish, Armstrong, Basso and Ullrich rode together, each taking a turn at the front. Each called for his team car and grabbed water bottles, both for drinking and for pouring over their heads and bodies.

Basso seemed to ride with a smile on his face. Ullrich was pulling in air through clenched teeth. Armstrong's mouth was set in a hard line.

With Armstrong setting the pace, Ullrich finally fell back. Whenever Basso would try to put distance between himself and Armstrong, the American would pull even. Finally, in the last couple of kilometers, Armstrong stood up and pushed hard. Basso didn't pull even.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Results

14th stage

137 miles from Agde to Ax-3 Domaines

1. Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner, 5 hours, 43 minutes, 43 seconds. 2. Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, :56 behind. 3. Ivan Basso, CSC, :58 behind. 4. Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 1:16. 5. Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, 1:31.

6. Floyd Landis, Phonak, same time. 7. Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, 1:47. 8. Mickael Rasmussen, Rabobank, same time. 9. Andreas Kloeden, T-Mobile, 2:06. 10. Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 2:20.

11. Alexandre Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, T-Mobile, 3:06. 12. Stefano Garzelli, Liquigas-Bianchi, 3:35. 13. Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, 4:03. 14. Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, same time. 15. Walter Beneteau, Bouygues Telecom, 4:16.

16. Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, 4:18. 17. Bobby Julich, CSC, 6:01. 18. Eddy Mazzoleni, Lampre, 6:04. 19. Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval, same time. 20. Laurent Brochard, Bouygues Telecom, 6:06.

Also

40. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 13:28. 60. Jose Azevedo, Discovery Channel, 21:25. 61. Jose Luis Rubiera, Discovery Channel, same time. 62. Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, same time. 80. Christopher Horner, Saunier Duval, 29:08.

91. Guido Trenti, Quick Step, 32:15. 139. Pavel Padrnos, Discovery Channel, 35:50. 154. B. Noval Gonzalez, Discovery Channel, same time. 158. Fred Rodriguez, Davitamon-Lotto, same time.

Overall standings

1. Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 55 hours, 58 minutes, 17 seconds. 2. Mickael Rasmussen, Rabobank, 1:41 behind. 3. Ivan Basso, CSC, 2:46. 4. Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 4:34. 5. Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, 4:45.

6. Floyd Landis, Phonak, 5:03. 7. Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, same time. 8. Andreas Kloeden, T-Mobile, 5:38. 9. Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, 7:09. 10. Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, 8:37.

11. Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, 8:52. 12. Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, 9:14. 13. Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, 9:59. 14. Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner, 10:39. 15. Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 11:43.

Also

16. Bobby Julich, CSC, 11:54. 25. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 24:59. 30. Jose Azevedo, Discovery Channel, 33:42. 32. Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 37:10. 36. Christopher Horner,Saunier Duval, 43:44. 46. Jose Luis Rubiera, Discovery Channel, 1:02:18.

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