Mayo Wins Dauphine Libere Time Trial, Leads Race
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) has won the Dauphine Libere's mountain time trial. Mayo dominated the uphill, 21.6-km ride from Bedoin to Mont Ventoux, leading at each checkpoint en route to victory in 55:51. Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) finished second at 0:35, and Hamilton's teammate Oscar Sevilla took third at 1:03. Mayo has retaken the overall lead.
Michael Rogers (Quick Step) set the early standard. The Australian rode the course in 1:00:36, but he spent little time in the lead. Floyd Landis (U.S. Postal Service) rode a 1:00:00, only to see Rogers's teammate Juan Mercado post a 57:39. Half an hour later, Sevilla stormed up Mont Ventoux to post a 56:54.
Mayo was not to be denied. He posted the fastest time at each checkpoint and extended his lead over Hamilton on Mont Ventoux's steepest slopes. Mayo claimed that he did not dig deep into his reserves. If that is the case, then the Basque rider will be a man to be feared at next month's Tour de France.
The biggest surprise was two-time defending champion Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service). Armstrong finished fifth at 2:00, which has given rise to speculation that the five-time Tour de France winner is unready for this year's Tour. Armstrong and his camp have admitted that such is the case, but U.S. Postal Service publicist Yogi Muller said that Armstrong is training through this Dauphine Libere and is not riding it to win. Chris Carmichael, Armstrong's coach, said the following to Roadcycling.com:
"Anyone who has ridden Mont Ventoux comes away with a similar notion that there's something weird about that place, that road, that summit finish. It's a really hard climb, and it has been the stage for strange and unlikely occurrences. It wasn't too much of a surprise that Iban Mayo was fastest today, although his margin of victory over Lance was larger than expected. There's still some time to the Tour de France, though, and Lance's goal is to come out of this race stronger than when he entered it. Winning the Tour is the objective, and though it's hard to stomach sometimes, you may not win smaller events when you're on your way to winning the biggest prize. Tonight, though, Lance and I believe he's right where he needs to be this time to be successful in the Tour de France."
In other words, expect Lance Armstrong to be ready for the Tour.
In the overall, Mayo leads Hamilton by 0:36 and Sevilla by 1:14. Stage 5 will not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 149-km run from Bollene to Sisteron should end in a bunch sprint. Who will take it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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