What's Cool In Road Cycling

Stage 15: The Race For Second

Vaison-la-Romaine / Les Deux Alpes 226.5 km

For US Postal, the name of the game is defence – defending a healthy lead of 4’21” for Lance Armstrong. For everyone else racing for second place in this Tour, the game is offence. This is exactly what Kelme’s Santiago Botero did today as he pulled back 7 minutes and moved from 18th place overall to 7th overall, after an abysmal ride up the slopes of Ventoux on Sunday. In fact, today’s ride by Botero was perhaps the most inspiring so far, as he found the resolve and strength to get on the attack early with several other opportunists and stick it to the end of the longest stage, over seven classified climbs in the Alps, winning his second stage of this Tour.

The rest of the stage was status quo, as the bunch stayed in their place behind US Postal and ONCE who were “allowed” to do most of the work and pace setting. With his sizeable lead, Armstrong can sit in and watch his rivals, ready to squish them like bugs should they try any funny business. We saw him do it to Beloki on Ventoux, and again today Beloki attacked Lance in the final meters of the stage, again while Lance was penned in behind several other riders of the yellow jersey group. Beloki tried to jump away, but was effortlessly chased down by the new “boss” of the bunch, and promptly put in his place. Beloki appeared desperate and sneaky, looking to gain a few hopeless seconds in the final meters of the stage.

Most of the bunch took it easier today, resting for tomorrow’s mammoth stage over the Galibier (2645 m), the Madeleine (2000 m), and finishing at the ski station of la Plagne (1880 m). Expect to see lance stay in control, watching and marking any breakaway attempts from rivals, and look for an early escape from a few glory seekers.

Results Stage 15
1. BOTERO Santiago COL KEL 5h 55′ 16″
2. AERTS Mario BEL LOT 01′ 51″
3. MERCKX Axel BEL DFF 02′ 30″
4. MAGNIEN Emmanuel FRA BJR 04′ 22″
5. CASAR Sandy FRA FDJ 04′ 28″
6. GARCIA ACOSTA Vicente ESP BAN 05′ 15″
7. RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM 06′ 41″
8. BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE 06′ 41″
9. ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 06′ 41″
10. MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 06′ 46″

Results Overall After Stage 15
1. ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 62h 53′ 36″
2. BELOKI Joseba ESP ONE 04′ 21″
3. RUMSAS Raimondas LTU LAM 06′ 39″
5. MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 10′ 54″
6. AZEVEDO Josй POR ONE 11′ 11″
7. BOTERO Santiago COL KEL 11′ 31″
8. HERAS Roberto ESP USP 11′ 46″
9. LEIPHEIMER Levy USA RAB 13′ 05″
10. BASSO Ivan ITA FAS 14′ 07″

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