Armstrong Takes Stage 20 Time Trial
Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) has won his first victory of the 2005 season and the penultimate one of his career.
Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) has won his first victory of the 2005 season and the penultimate one of his career. Armstrong fought off Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) to win Stage 20, a rolling, 55.5-km time trial at St. Etienne in 1:11:46. Ullrich took second at 0:23, and Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile) took third at 1:16. Armstrong extended his overall lead and is poised to win the Tour when it ends in Paris tomorrow.
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Luke Roberts (CSC) set the early standard. The Australian posted a 1:15:33, a time that stood for two hours. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears), who might win his second consecutive white jersey, then crossed the finish line with a 1:14:51.
The riders were sent out in groups of 20. By the time that Karpets posted his time, the final group of 20 riders was starting. Bobby Julich (CSC) obliterated Karpets?s time with a 1:13:19, but teammate Ivan Basso and Vinokourov turned in splits that made it clear that Julich?s time would not stand. Basso tailed off and finished 0:21 slower than the American, but Vinokourov powered into the lead with a 1:13:02. Ullrich eclipsed Vinokourov?s time with a 1:12:09.
Armstrong was the last starter. At the first checkpoint (17 km), he trailed Basso by 0:07 but led Ullrich by 0:17. At 35 km, the man from Austin led Ullrich by 0:19 and Basso by 0:53. Five km later, the Texan led Ullrich by 0:32 and Vinokourov by 1:10, with Basso fourth in 1:18. At 49 km, Armstrong had 0:35 on Ullrich and 1:21 on Vinokourov, with Basso having fallen behind teammate Julich into fifth place at 1:50. Ullrich fought back and cut into Armstrong?s lead by the end, and all of the top four finishers except for Basso gained time on the Texan, but not enough.
The top 10 on GC underwent a shakeup and time losses equivalent to that produced by a mountain stage. The day began with Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) in third and Ullrich in fourth separated by 2:12. Rasmussen needed a stellar day to keep his place on the podium. What he got was a nightmare. The Dane crashed twice and needed three bike changes. Rasmussen finished 77 th at 7:47 and fell from third to seventh, although he has won the King of the Mountains competition. After the stage, the Rabobank rider was too upset to speak with the press.
Rasmussen was not the only top 10 GC rider who gained or lost places or time. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) lost 2:51 to Armstrong but rose from fifth to fourth. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) went from sixth to fifth despite losing 3:13, and Vinokourov vaulted from eighth to sixth while losing 1:16. Cadel Evans (Davitamon) fell from seventh to eighth after conceding 2:06, and Floyd Landis and Oscar Pereiro (both from Phonak) kept their ninth and tenth places, respectively, despite Landis losing 2:02 and Pereiro losing 3:25.
In the overall, Armstrong leads Basso by 4:42 and Ullrich by 6:21. Stage 21, a flat, 144.5-km run from Corbeil-Essonnes to Paris, will begin as