Simoni Wins Stage 14 of Tour; Race Tightens
Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) has won Stage 14 of the Tour de France.
Gilberto Simoni (Saeco) has won Stage 14 of the Tour de France. The Giro champion outsprinted Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) and Richard Virenque (Quick Step) to take the mountainous, 191.5-km stage from St. Girons to Loudonvielle in 5:31:52. Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) remains the maillot jaune.
The racing began early. At four km, Simoni, Andrea Peron and Jakob Piil (both from CSC); Paolo Bettini, Michael Rogers, and Virenque (all from Quick Step); Rolf Aldag and Daniele Nardello (both from Telekom); Christophe Mengin (La Francaise des Jeux.com); Evgeni Petrov (iBanesto.com); Manuel Beltran (U.S. Postal Service); Fabrizio Guidi (Bianchi); Mikel Pradera (ONCE); Laurent Dufaux (Alessio); Steve Zampieri (Vini Caldirola); Alexander Botcharov (Ag2r); and Walter Beneteau (Brioches La Boulangere) rolled off of the front. Beltran, who began the day 13th overall at 14:57, became the yellow jersey on the road when the break's advantage reached 15:00 at the top of the Category 1 Col de la Core at 67 km.
Euskaltel and Bianchi began to chase, and attrition took its toll on the Category 1 Col de Mente. On the day's penultimate climb, the Category 1 Col de Portillon (156 km), Dufaux attacked. Only Simoni and Virenque could follow him.
The three leaders led the field over the day's final climb, the Category 1 Col de Peyresourde. The trio descended to the finish with Peron and Beneteau in pursuit. Peron attempted to dash past the three in the last km, but Virenque spotted him and began sprinting. Simoni came around the Frenchman for the victory.
Behind the leading trio and the two pursuers, the battle for the yellow jersey unfolded. On the Peyresourde, Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole), Alexander Vinokourov (Telekom), and Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) attacked the maillot jaune group. Moreau was dropped, but Vinokourov and Mayo forged a one-minute lead on the maillot jaune group. Bianchi began to chase. The maillot jaune group shaved enough seconds off of Vinokourov's lead to keep Armstrong in the yellow jersey.
In the overall, Armstrong leads Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) by 0:15 and Vinokourov by 0:18. Stage 15 could be a standing shaker. The 159.5-km ride from Bagneres-de-Bigorre to Luz-Ardiden will feature the Category 1 Col d'Aspin, the Hors Categorie Col du Tourmalet, and the Hors Categorie ascent to Luz-Ardiden. Expect fireworks from the Spanish and Basque riders. Expect a decisive attack from one of the three leaders. Which one will deliver it? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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