Tour de France Stage 20: Lance Joins Cycling’s Most Exclusive Club!
Lance Armstrong has written his name into cycling’s most exclusive club alongside Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain after crossing the Paris finish line of the 2003 Tour in the comfort of the pack, scoring a record-equalling 5th straight yellow jersey.
The race ended with a traditional full-on pelt up the Champs Elysйes with the glory of victory in the key sprinter’s stage going to Jean Delatour’s Jean-Patrick Nazon who cried tears of disbelief at his win. Nazon the younger dived straight up the centre of the Champs-Elysйes cobbles taking advantage of the green jersey situation to snatch his biggest ever win – a precious and fitting home win for the French in the Centenary tour.
Behind him, the final act in the ferocious fight for the points competition was played out as Baden Cooke edged Robbie McEwen for 2nd on the day, securing his first points title. In the 2 sprints along the way from Ville d’Avray to Paris they’d taken 10 points apiece, but Cookie’s legal shoulder lean just held off Robbie Mac on the line.
The stage was enlivened by a great 8-man breakaway which hovered ahead of the bunch, but was sucked in inside the last couple of kilometres.
The USPS squad savoured the early part of the stage quaffing champagne and modelling a flash new commemorative kit to celebrate their boss’s achievement. They can celebrate for themselves too, after a job well done and finishing all 9 team members in Paris.
Armstrong finished in the 2nd part of the peloton which broke up in the last few hundred metres, but despite losing 15 seconds on the day to Ullrich and Vinokourov, his place in the history books was assured. The pressure and pain of the last 3 weeks erased, there was a huge smile on the Texan’s face as he mounted the podium flanked by Ullrich and Vinokourov.
To round up the other classifications, the King of the Mountains went to Richard Virenque for a record-equalling 6th time.
Denis Menchov made a hugely impressive 11th overall to take the white jersey as best young rider.
The combativity prize deservedly went to Alex Vinokourov after 3 weeks of almost ceaseless attacking.
CSC topped off a cracking Tour winning the team classification and guaranteeing them entry to the Grand Tours next year.
The little-talked about Centenaire prize was won by Credit Agricole’s Stuart O’ Grady who had the best combination of finish results in the 6 cities visited this year which were on the original 1903 route.
Tour de France Stage 20: Ville d’Avray – Paris Champs-Elysйes, 152 km
1 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) Jean Delatour 3.38.49 (41.678 km/h)
2 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com same
3 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo same
4 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon same
5 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole same
6 Stuart O’ Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole same
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom same
8 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-So.Di same
9 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Saeco same
10 Damien Nazon (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere same
Tour de France 2003 Final General Classification
1 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor 83.41.12 (40.956 km/h)
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi + 1.01
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom + 4.14
4 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC + 6.17
5 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 6.51
6 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi + 7.06
7 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo + 10.12
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole + 12.28
9 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC + 18.49
10 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) iBanesto.com + 19.15
1 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com 216 pts
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto Domo 214
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 188
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 173
5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 156
King of the Mountains Classification
1 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick.Step-Davitamon 324 pts
2 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio 187
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor 168
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 137
5 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) iBanesto.com 136
Young Rider Classification
1 Denis Menchov (Rus) iBanesto.com 84.00.56
2 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2R Prevoyance + 42.29
3 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) iBanesto.com + 1.02.48
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere + 1.05.17
5 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance + 1.09.09