Tour de France: Mercado wins 18th Tour stage
23 July 2004, LONS DE SAUNIER - Five-time champion Lance Armstrong retained his command of the 2004 Tour de France as Juan Miguel Mercado of Spain won Friday's 18th stage.
23 July 2004
LONS DE SAUNIER - Five-time champion Lance Armstrong retained his command of the 2004 Tour de France as Juan Miguel Mercado of Spain won Friday's 18th stage.
Mercado was part of an early breakaway of six riders that gradually built a lead of over 11 minutes over the main pack and was allowed to decide the victory among themselves.
The 26-year-old Mercado broke away from the group with fellow Spaniard Vicente Garcia Acosta with 15 km to go, and was able to outsprint him to the finish line to bag the first Tour stage win of his career.
His time for the 166.5-km course from Annemasse to Lons le Saunier was 4:04.03 hours. Dimitry Fofonov of Kazakhstan was third, 11 seconds adrift.
Armstrong finished with the main pack, more than 11 minutes behind the winner. He continues to lead Italian Ivan Basso by 4:09 minutes in the overall standings, with Andreas Kloeden of Germany in third, 5:11 behind.
Saturday's penultimate stage of this year's Tour is a 55-km individual time trial in the city of Besancon that could see Armstrong, a superior time trial cyclist, increase his lead.
Subject: German news