le Tour de France, 2005
Lance Armstrong, in the Yellow Jersey, nearing the top of the Col de Soulor, the last peak of the last really serious climbing day [16th stage] of the 2005 Tour de France.
Yet again, no contender can break Armstrong’s steely grip on his seventh Tour. It will take a bad mishap, or a near-miracle, to stop Armstrong going out with yet another record Tour win.
In the photograph above, you can see Lance’s dominant determination, while the Spotty Jersey of Michael Rasmussen [Rabobank], pink-clad Jan Ullrich [T-Mobil] and Ivan Basso [Team CSC] trail. Andreas Kloden, the other T-Mobil team member, here in front, has since withdrawn from the race. Armstrong is led over the top by his Discovery Channel teammates. To quote Lance Armstrong, “There are no presents in the Tour”.
The huge improvement this year is Rasmussen, who has moved from 14th last year to third this year. Basso, one of the very few to keep anywhere Armstrong last year, finishing 6:40 [6 minutes 40 seconds] down at third, is now running in second place, only 2:46 down. However, there is still a time trial to come on Saturday, the penultimate day, where the form book indicates Armstrong can extend his lead further.
Zabriskie won the yellow jersey in an impressive individual against-the-clock [atc] on the first day. Lance Armstrong was second, at two seconds, while Jan Ullrich, the perennial second in the Tour, came in 11th.
Lance’s new team, Discovery Channel [DSC], was first in the team against-the-clock. Zabriskie fell heavily 1300 m from the end, so was not listed with his team time. From 1000 m, Zabriskie would have received the team time, thus he lost the yellow jersey to Lance Armstrong. Zabriskie’s team, Team CSC, came in second, two seconds behind the DSC team.
Lance started the day after Zabriskie’s fall in team colours, not having won the Yellow by racing. However, the organisers said, “Put on the yellow jersey or you’re out of the Tour”. Lance wore the yellow jersey.
There were nasty crashes on several days. Mengin, who was ahead for almost all one stage, crashed and skidded into a barrier shortly before the end of that stage. Other sprinters fell similarly and skidded into him. Mengin withdrew from the race two days later. Zabriskie, after several days of suffering, has also withdrawn.
On Saturday 9th, there was a finish with separation of 0.0002 of a second , a difference not visible to the naked eye, after a stage of 231.5 km. The separation was only detected by sensors that are on every bicycle.
Sunday, Lance Armstrong lost the yellow jersey after a breakaway of 167 km where Rasmassen won 56 climbing points, with Jan Voigt coming in second. Voigt, previously second overall, now has the Yellow. Voigt now leads the Tour, with Christophe Moreau 1m 50s behind. Armstrong has slipped into third place overall, 2m 18s behind the leader.
Monday the 11th is a rest day before two days of major climbs in the Alps.
from Saturday, 2nd July, for three glorious weeks!
For much more, start just below
This year’s Tour de France starts on Saturday 2nd July, and after doing a grueling but scenic tour of France, it finishes at the Champs-Élysées, Paris on Sunday 24th July.
There are 21 stages, of which seven are classified as mountain stages (Alsace 1, Alps 3, Pyrenées 3) and three are against-the-clock [contre-le-montre] trials.
This year, there are 21 teams, with ten participating riders in each. The number for the lead rider in each team ends in -1, that is 1, 11, 21, 31 etc.
The teams are:
There will be 110 hours of live broadcasting on France 2 and France 3.
Lance Armstrong, last year’s winner for a record sixth time, is cycling in the new Discovery Channel Team. [US Postal is no longer sponsoring a team for the Tour de France.]
Will Lance Armstrong be going for a 7th yellow jersey, or will he just be on the Tour for a victory ride of honour? Lance has said that he intends to retire at the end of the 2005 season.
the 2004 Tour
With a month to go before the start of the 2004 version of the Greatest Show on Earth on 3rd July, we prepare the ground.
This year, there will be two highlights:
For those who like numbers, the 2004 Tour of 189 competitors in 21 teams, will travel 2,143 miles (3,429 km) through France, reaching the Champs-Elysées in Paris on the 25th July,
The first Tour de France took place in 1903, with a first stage from Montgeron to Lyon, lasting an overwhelming 467 kilometres. There were six stages. The first Tour was 2,428 kilometers long and the prize was 6,075 francs.
Looking back to 2003: drama all the way
From a New York Times report, 2003
the great armstrong—legstrong would be better
Once more, Armstrong crushed rivals on the renowned Luz-Ardiden climb to move to a strong position in the 2003 Tour.
Armstrong is having one eventful Tour. If he can win this one, he will join four other Tour greats with five wins, and maybe he still has the strength to go beyond that.
Each day, the French commentators bite their nails and eat their hearts out, desparately seeking weaknesses in the prodigious American who has stolen ‘their’ Tour for the last four years. Their voices rise in pitch as they exaggerate every two-yard gap and minimise Armstrong’s dominance; as every day, he yet again pulls on the yellow jersey, to their obvious disappointment and seemingly interminable chagrin. Will this American never break and go back to that distant land across the ocean?
For two heavy days, Armstrong has been stalking the strong German, Ullrich, now his only major remaining rival, while knowing that Ullrich has a tendency to crack under the pressure of the important climbs. Today was the point to strike and, once more, Armstrong was up to the task, tearing 40 priceless seconds from Ullrich, with an added 20-second bonus for winning the stage.
These two left Vinokourov, probably out of range for the time-trial next Saturday, to look forward to three more heavy days on the road. Saturday will be the day when Ullrich can hope to use his strength to snatch the Tour from Armstrong.
Ullrich is the stronger, but Armstrong is the outstanding climber.
Through Basqueland, the roads are lined with the bright orange of the newly competitive, Basque clockwork orange [naraja mecanica] team, Euskaltel-Euskadi.
As the riders started up the Luz,
Armstrong, and the strong contender Mayo of Euskaltel, were brought
down when Armstrong’s brake handle caught in a bag being
waved by a young spectator (the fans crowd in on the riders as
they climb), but Armstrong blamed himself for being too close!
Tomorrow is a day of rest, which should help Ullrich to recover before the last seriously heavy climbs between Pau and Bayonne. Pau-Bayonne is where Armstrong would doubtless yearn to cut some more slack between himself and Ullrich. But there is a long run-in after the two class-one climbs, so it is near certain that Armstrong will have to rely on keeping the time gap between him and Ullrich down to less than a minute on Saturday’s time-trial. The gap is 1 minute 7 seconds and there is a dangerous 15-second bonus for first, an ambition well within Ullrich’s capacity.
2003 was one of the most eventful and closely fought Tours for years.
Of course, gentle reader, you know what happened – Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the fifth time.
This year we will watch with wonder to see whether this mighty athelete can do the as-yet unachieved, a sixth straight win.
Transbordeur bridges in France and the world 2: focus on Portugalete, Chicago,
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the address for this document is http://www.abelard.org/france/le-tour_2005.php