Mayo Wins at L'Alpe d'Huez; Armstrong Takes Yellow Jersey
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) has won Stage 8 of the Tour de France.
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) has won Stage 8 of the Tour de France. The Basque rider powered up L'Alpe d'Huez to win the mountainous, 219-km ride from Sallanches to L'Alpe d'Huez in 5:57:30. Alexander Vinokourov (Telekom) finished second at 1:45, and four-time defending champion Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) won the sprint for third at 2:12. Armstrong took the yellow jersey from Richard Virenque (Quick Step).
Riders attacked throughout the stage. Juan Antonio Flecha (iBanesto.com), Angel Casero (Bianchi), and Jens Voigt (Credit Agricole) made an early move on the Category 3 Cote de Megeve. On the Cote des Rafforts, Nicolas Portal (Ag2r), Axel Merckx (Lotto), Franck Renier (Brioches La Boulangere), and Pierrick Fedrigo (Credit Agricole) attacked.
On the Col du Telegraphe, Fedrigo and Renier dropped Merckx and Portal. Gerrit Glomser (Saeco) bridged up to the leading pair. Virenque led the bunch up the climb.
U.S. Postal Service made the pace up the Galibier, the Tour's highest point at 2,645 meters. The Postal Service-led bunch reeled in the break and dropped Giro champion Gilberto Simoni (Saeco). On the descent, Didier Rous (Brioches La Boulangere) and Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) attacked. At the base of the Alpe, the pair led the field by 2:30.
U.S. Postal Service led the field up the Alpe. Newcomer Manuel Beltran's pacemaking was so strong that Virenque was dropped right away and Jose Luis Rubiera (U.S. Postal Service) was put in difficulty. When Beltran pulled off, the lead group was down to 15 riders.
With 11 km left, Joseba Beloki (ONCE) attacked. Beloki's attack and Armstrong's pursuit reduced the lead group to five riders. They were Armstrong and Roberto Heras (both from U.S. Postal Service), Mayo and Haimar Zubeldia (both from Euskaltel), and Tyler Hamilton, who was exceeding all expectations by racing in the mountains after breaking his collarbone in a Stage 1 finish-line crash.
Beloki attacked twice more. Armstrong covered each move. Heras took over the pacemaking. With seven km left, Mayo attacked. Armstrong did not pursue. Hamilton made several moves that Armstrong covered. Vinokourov attacked in the last five km to nail down second place. Armstrong finished with Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com), Zubeldia and Roberto Laiseka (both from Euskaltel), Beloki, Hamilton, and Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo).
In the overall, Armstrong leads Beloki by 0:40 and Mayo by 1:10. Stage 9 should not change this state of affairs, but it could. The 184.5-km run from Bourg d'Oisans to Gap will feature the Category 1 Col du Lautaret and the Hors Categorie Col d'Izoard during the stage's first half. A small group might get away on the Izoard. If it contains the right riders, a battle for the yellow jersey could take place. Will all of this happen? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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