July 13/00 10:27 am - Pantani & Armstrong Conquer Field at Mont Ventoux
Posted by Editor on 07/13/00
Tour de France
Stage 12 - Carpentras to Mont Ventoux 149 km
After a rest day, the riders have been thrown back into the mountains, with a 5 climb stage that culminates in the dreaded 21 kilometre Hors Category (Beyond Category) Mont Ventoux ascent. Prior to the start there were real concerns about potential problems on Ventoux - the temperature was hovering around 5-6 degrees Celcius, and gusting winds had reached 160 kilometres/hour yesterday!
Just to show how aggressive the stage was going to be, there was a split in the peloton just 12 kilometres into the stage. Armstrong and most of the other favourites were in the front group, with the exception of Marco Pantani (Mercatone Uno). Pantani's team reacted quickly, towing the field back up to the front group. However, the abandonments were happening quick and fast, with Marcel Wust (Festina) not starting, and Tom Steels and Chann McRae (both Mapei) dropping out in the first 40 kilometres.
A group of 9 managed to form off the front just as the field began the first major climb of the day, the Cat. 2 Col de Murs. In the group: Jose Luis Arrieta & Garcia-Acosta (Banesto), Kivilev & Agnolutto (AG2R), Nicolas Jalabert (ONCE), Nico Mattan (Cofidis), Pascal Herve (Polti), Santiago Botero (Kelme) and Vinokourov (Telekom). Their lead was up to 1:45 by the 60 kilometre mark. U.S. Postal was setting tempo back in peloton, just keeping the leaders within shouting distance.
However, over the top of the second climb (Cote de Javon), the lead had crept up to 3:15, and to 4 minutes by the time they crested Col de Notre-Dame-des-Abeilles, the third climb. Banesto then joined U.S. Postal at the front of the chase, and the gap started to drop rapidly; down to less than 3 minutes with 30 kilometres to go, and to 1:35 as the chasers started the climb.
At this point the peloton began to split up, with the major players - Armstrong, Ullrich, Pantani, Jimenez, Zulle and Escartin - in the front chasing group. U.S. Postal took charge as they chasers began to gobble up the breakaways, with Armstrong's lieutenants Tyler Hamilton and then Kevin Livingston setting the tempo. The pace began to tell, as riders such as Bartoli, Boogerd, Zulle and Escartin all dropped off. Pantani and Jalabert both lost contact at the front momentarily, but managed to get back on as the Posties set a relentless pace on the climb to the finish.
With 10 kilometres to go, the front group was down to 6 (all the breakaways having been caught and spat out the back) - Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich, Joseba Beloki, Richard Virenque, Roberto Heras and Botero. Significantly, Pantani and Jalabert were dropped. However, Pantani made a tremendous effort and rejoined the front group as they entered the final 6 kilometres of the stage and, after a short rest, attacked!
Pantani has something to prove, and keeps attacking, dropping Heras and Virenque first, then getting clear on his with 4 kilometres to go. Botero joined him, momentarily, and then it was the turn of Armstrong to attack. The Yellow Jersey shrugged off Ullrich, passed Botero and went by Pantani to take the lead. As the two leaders entered the last couple of kilometres, Armstrong tried repeatedly to shake Pantani, but to no avail. At the line, it appears that Armstrong decided not to contest the sprint, and Pantani has taken the stage. Jan Ullrich further cemented his lock on second overall by finishing third, 30 seconds back.
1 PANTANI Marco ITA MER 4:15:11
2 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP s.t.
3 BELOKI Joseba ESP FES 0:25
4 ULLRICH Jan GER TEL 0:29
5 BOTERO Santiago COL KEL 0:48
6 HERAS Roberto ESP KEL
7 VIRENQUE Richard FRA PLT 1:17
8 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 1:23
9 BELTRAN Manuel ESP MAP 1:29
10 MOREAU Christophe FRA FES 1:31
1 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP 48:50:21
2 ULLRICH Jan GER TEL at 4:55
3 BELOKI Joseba ESP FES 5:52
4 MOREAU Christophe FRA FES 6:53
5 BELTRAN Manuel ESP MAP 7:25
6 VIRENQUE Richard FRA PLT 8:28
7 HERAS Roberto ESP KEL 8:33
8 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN 9:42
9 OTXOA Javier ESP KEL 9:46
10 LUTTENBERGER Peter AUT ONC 10:01
11 JALABERT Laurent FRA ONC 10:14
12 PANTANI Marco ITA MER 10:26
13 ZULLE Alex SUI BAN 10:46
14 ESCARTIN Fernando ESP KEL 10:58