Tour de France: Armstrong takes 16th stage

21st July 2004, Comments 0 comments

21 July 2004, L'ALPE D'HUEZ - Five-time champion Lance Armstrong on Wednesday won the prestige stage of the 2004 Tour de France, an individual time trial up the legendary Alpe d'Huez mountain.

21 July 2004

L'ALPE D'HUEZ - Five-time champion Lance Armstrong on Wednesday won the prestige stage of the 2004 Tour de France, an individual time trial up the legendary Alpe d'Huez mountain.

The 32-year-old American covered the 15.5-km course in 39:41 minutes, a remarkable average speed of 23.44 kph over a climb with an average gradient of 7.9 per cent and 21 hairpin curves.

Armstrong beat German Jan Ullrich by 1:01 minutes, with another German, Andreas Kloeden finishing third, 1:41 adrift.

Delighted with the victory, Armstrong nevertheless complained about the raucous crowds lining the route. An estimated million people were on hand to watch the stage, many of them arriving two weeks ago to get a good vantage point.

"I think it's a bad idea to have a time trial up this mountain with a million people on the side of it," Armstrong said. "Many of them were drinking all day. It's a shame to have that at such an important stage.

"But we got through it all right," he added. "That's all that matters.

Armstrong's third stage win of this year's Tour, and the second in succession, consolidated his hold on the lead in the overall standings, as he now has a lead of 3:48 minutes on Italian Ivan Basso and of 5:03 on Kloeden, who stands third.

Basso finished eight in the stage, 2:22 behind the winner, and now must worry about holding his place among the top three, as his lead over Ullrich and Kloeden has shrunk.

For Ullrich, the stage represented something of a vindication after his weak performances in the Pyrenees, where the man thought to be Armstrong's toughest rival lost more than 5 minutes to the American.

Ullrich stands fourth overall, 7:55 minutes behind Armstrong.

Thursday's 17th stage takes the riders to the "roof" of this year's Tour, the 2,000-m-high Col de la Madeleine, one of five grueling Alpine climbs on the 204.5-km course from Le Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand.

DPA

Subject: German news

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