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Remember me? My name’s Lance…

Stage 10: Dax – Lourdes-Hautacam

Hautacam, France, July 10 2000 – In an epic day on the mist-shrouded peaks of the
Pyrenees, reigning champion Lance Armstrong took the 87th edition of the Tour de
France by the scruff of the neck, forcing his critics to eat their words, as he pummelled
the peloton into submission on the slippery slopes of the ascent to the Hautacam
ski station.

Spaniard Javier Otxoa desperately held off the Texan superman on the gruelling last
climb of the day to take the stage win. The 25-year-old Kelme dark horse, who was
out alone after dropping the leading group towards the summit of the Col d’Aubisque,
faded badly in the last 3km as Armstrong swallowed up the road voraciously behind
him. In an awesome display of climbing, the US Postal man took 1 minute out of the
Spaniard’s lead in the space of 500 metres, catching and dropping all his rivals
in the process with breathtaking ease.

At the foot of the Hautacam, the last three Tour winners, Armstrong, Pantani and
Ullrich, tantalisingly came together to form the third group on the road along with
Zulle and the other big guns, 24 seconds behind an illustrious gang of climbers which
boasted Virenque, Escartin, Jimenez and Heras, who were a further 8:56 off the lead
of Otxoa.

Zulle went for broke in a valiant bid to lose the trio of former champions, but buckled
with the effort and Pantani and Armstrong glided past the Swiss nearly-man, shaking
the group, including Ullrich, off their tail. Disappearing through the mist and rain
they set off in pursuit Virenque and co.

The thrilling live theatre gathered pace as Armstrong and Pantani, now in full flow,
shadowed each other in a high-speed, uphill game of cat-and-mouse. Pantani was the
first of the two heavyweights of world cycling to make a dash for glory but Armstrong
simply cast a look at him as if to say, “No chance, buddy!” Armstrong then
effortlessly raised the tempo and left the Italian mountain specialist floundering
in his wake.

In no time at all, Armstrong, wearing the concentrated semi-obsessive expression
of a great champion, quickly caught and swaggered past the Virenque group, 7km from
the summit, with only Jimenez giving him a brief run for his money.

At this point there was no holding the 1999 champion back. He was operating on a
different level from everyone else. Closing rapidly on Otxoa now, the Spaniard was
beginning to feel the effects of his day long heroics, slowing almost to walking
pace and labouring heavily on the pedals of his rain battered bike.

But somehow he dug deep and Armstrong finally ran out of road. At the finish, the
Kelme rider held on by a mere 42 seconds. It was a gloriously courageous victory,
with the sylph-like Spaniard also bagging the King of the Mountains jersey.

However, it was Armstrong’s hour. The motto of the US Posties goes something like,
“Neither rain nor wind nor driving snow will stop us doing our rounds.”
Of course’ I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the gist. Today, Lance Armstrong took
the motto of his sponsors to the very extremes of sporting endeavour and delivered
his uniquely talented goods in emphatic fashion.

Results:

1. Javier Otxoa (Spa) Kelme 6hr 09min 32sec

2. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal at 42sec

3. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa) Banesto 1:13

4. Richard Virenque (Fra) 1:57,

5. Manuel Beltran (Spa) 1:57,

6. Fernando Escartin (Spa) 2:02,

7. Roberto Heras (Spa) 2:02,

8. Christophe Moreau (Fra) 3:05,

9. Joseba Beloki (Spa) 3:35,

10.Alex Zulle (Swi) 3:47

11.Francisco Mancebo (Spa) 3:47,

12.Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel) 3:55,

13.Jan Ullrich (Ger) 4:01,

14.Michele Bartoli (Ita) 4:18,

15.Geert Verheyen (Bel) 4:52,

16.Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) 4:52,

17.Angel Casero (Spa) 4:52,

18.Michael Boogerd (Ned) 5:14,

19.Peter Luttenberger (Aut) 5:14,

20.Daniele Nardello (Ita) 5:44,

21.Marco Pantani (Ita) 5:52,

22.Nico Mattan (Bel) 7:09,

23.Abraham Olano (Spa) 7:26,

24.Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) 7:26

25.Mario Aerts (Bel) 7:26,

26.Felix Garcia Casas (Spa) 8:17,

27.Pascal Herve (Fra) 8:40,

28.Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 8:45,

29.Guido Trentin (Ita) 8:45,

30.Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) 8:45,

Selected:

36. David Millar (GBR) 10:51,

39. Tyler Hamilton (USA) 12:02,

41. Bobby Julich (USA) 12:40



General Classification:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 39hr 24min 30sec,

2. Jan Ullrich (Ger) at 4min 14sec,

3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) 5:10,

4. Marc Wauters (Bel) 5:18,

5. Peter Luttenberger (Aut) 5:21,

6. Joseba Beloki (Spa) 5:23,

7. Manuel Beltran (Spa) 5:44,

8. Javier Ochoa (Spa) 6:13,

9. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa) 6:21,

10. Angel Casero (Spa) 6:55,

11. Richard Virenque (Fra) 6:59,

12. Abraham Olano (Spa) 7:15,

13. Alex Zulle (Swi) 7:22,

14. Michele Bartoli (Ita) 7:23,

15. Roberto Heras (Spa) 7:33,

16. Michael Boogerd (Ned) 7:33,

17. Fernando Escartin (Spa) 7:34,

18. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 8:01,

19. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) 8:21,

20. Daniele Nardello (Ita) 8:48,

21. Nico Mattan (Bel) 9:51,

22. Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel) 9:52,

23. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa) 10:11,

24. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa) 10:19,

25. Marco Pantani (Ita) 10:34,

26. Marcos Serrano (Spa) 11:32,

27. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) 11:41,

28. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) 11:53,

29. David Etxebarria (Spa) 12:05,

30. Tyler Hamilton (USA) 12:13

Selected:

31. David Millar (GBR) 12:34

38. Bobby Julich (USA) 14:11





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