Hincapie Wins Stage 15 of Tour
George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) has won the unlikeliest victory of his career.
George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) has won the unlikeliest victory of his career. The two-time American champion, who does best in classics and sprints, took Stage 15, the hardest mountain stage of this year?s Tour, in 6:06:38. Hincapie finished the 205.5-km ride from Lezat-sur-Leze to Saint-Lary Soulan 0:06 ahead of Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) and 0:38 ahead of Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole). Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) remains the maillot jaune .<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
After an early break was shut down, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) attacked at 28 km. Hincapie, Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile), Erik Dekker and Karsten Kroon (both from Rabobank), Pereiro, Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Caucchioli, Laurent Brochard and Jerome Pineau (both from Bouygues Telecom), Alessandro Bertolini (Domina Vacanze), Iker Camano (Euskaltel), and Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) joined him. None of these riders was a GC threat, so the peloton did not chase. The break?s lead ballooned to 13:00 at 69.5 km, 17:24 at the summit of the Category 2 Col du Portet d?Aspet (85 km), and 17:57 at the top of the Category 1 Col de Mente.
CSC, which was not represented in the break, began to chase. When the bunch ascended the Category 1 Col de Portillon, the gap had fallen to 16:30. At the top of the Peyresourde, 11:28 separated the break from the maillot jaune group.
At the top of the Category 1 Col de Val Louron-Azet, the break?s lead was down to 7:37. At the base of the final climb, however, the gap had not closed appreciably. Clearly, a break member would win the stage.
Sevilla made the first move. Pereiro countered and dropped the T-Mobile rider. Pereiro and Boogerd paced the group, which was down to four. With five km remaining, Caucchioli attacked. Pereiro and Hincapie countered and dropped the Italian and the Dutchman.
On the ascent to the finish, Pereiro did virtually all of the work. Both riders looked back frequently to see where Boogerd and Caucchioli were With three km left, a fan who went too far into the road in pursuit of Pereiro and Hincapie was run over by a television motorcycle.
With 300 m left, Hincapie made his move. Pereiro was spent. Hincapie placed his hands on his head and shook his head in shock.
Behind, the fight for the general classification took place. Ivan Basso (CSC) attacked the maillot jaune group and dropped everyone except Armstrong. Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) lost 1:24 to the maillot jaune and had to be paced to the finish by Sevilla. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) also lost 1:24 to Armstrong and his runnerup spot overall to Basso.
In the overall, Armstrong leads Basso by 2:46 and Rasmussen by 3:09. Stage 16 will probably not change this state of affairs. The 180.5-km ride from Mourenx to Pau will feature the Category 1 Col de Marie Blanque and the Hors Categorie Col d?Aubisque, but the Aubisque?s summit is 72 km from the finish. Look for a group of no-hope climbers to escape and fight for the day?s honors. Who will it be? Check in