Stage 14: Draguignon – Briancon
Little Colombian mountain goat, Santiago Botero, rode to an outstanding solo victory
in Briancon today to win the dreaded 14th stage of the 2000 Tour de France. The gritty
28-year-old, riding for the Spanish Kelme team, also did enough over the trilogy
of mountain climbs to steal the ‘King of the Mountains’ jersey from the shoulders
of his teammate, Javier Otxoa.
"I can’t believe it," said an emotional and physically drained Botero at
the finish line. "It’s the greatest moment of my life."
Botero’s decisive move came at the foot of the final climb, the 2,360 metres Col
d’Izoard, when he jumped clear of an earlier breakaway group to go for broke alone.
On the almost over the top 250 km route, dragging the bruised and battered peloton
from Draguignan, just inland from Cannes to Briancon via three towering mountain
passes, the climbers were predicted to take control and so it proved, as Botero,
Paolo Savoldelli of Italy and his compatriot Marco Pantani filled the top three places.
Reigning Tour king and current race leader Lance Armstrong was seventh on the stage,
but once more seemed entirely at ease on the steepest gradients, despite later admitting
that, even for him, it had been a tough day.
"I didn’t feel that good," said the American. "On the Izoard, I felt
a bit better, but things had been tough on the climb before that. Fortunately, my
team was strong enough to see me through."
An early breakaway of seven men, instigated by Spaniard Javier Pascual Llorente,
again of the prominently aggressive Kelme team, remained clear for much of the stage.
However, by the time they reached the strange, desolate heights of the aptly named
"Casse Deserte," the imperious Col d’Izoard, the panoramic scene was set
for another battle royale involving the heavyweight sluggers of this year’s Tour.
As Botero pulled well clear of his pursuers, passing the plaques to the memory of
Tour icons Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet near the summit, the Italian Renaissance
man Marco Pantani attacked to haul a group ahead of the main field. Chasing desperately,
as the pink clad Mercatone man moved away with a red-faced Armstrong, was Jan Ullrich,
Tour winner in 1997.
Yet for all his efforts, Pantani couldn’t shake either Armstrong or the dogged German
as the group of favourites crossed the top of the legendary col with nothing between
On a day when even the American superman, Lance Armstrong struggled to maintain parity
with the specialist climbers over the marathon-like stage, Britain’s David Millar
questioned the sanity of such a stage. Already under the cosh trying to recover from
a dislocated collarbone, today’s mountain madness was the last thing the young Scot,
or for that matter, anyone needed:
"It was bullshit," he told procycling on his mobile phone from the Cofidis
camper, stuck in a traffic jam somewhere down the crazy, "showbiz" final
1.5km climb in Briancon. "They want to clean up cycling and then after two weeks
of racing they put on a stage like that. They must think we’re robots. Jean-Marie
Leblanc needs a slap."
Results & overall standings
1. Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme 7hr 56min 13sec, 2. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) at 2min
30sec, 3. Marco Pantani (Ita) 2:46, 4. Fernando Escartin (Spa) 2:49, 5. Richard Virenque
(Fra) s.t., 6. Christophe Moreau (Fra) s.t., 7. Lance Armstrong (USA) 2:51, 8. Roberto
Heras (Spa) s.t., 9. Jan Ullrich (Ger) s.t., 10. Joseba Beloki (Spa) s.t., 11. Pascal
Herve (Fra) 2:55, 12. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) 2:57, 13. Javier Pascual Llorente
(Spa) 3:16, 14. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) 3:21, 15. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) 3:26, 16.
Jens Heppner (Ger) 4:05, 17. Geert Verheyen (Bel) 4:57, 18. Manuel Beltran (Spa)
4:59, 19. Daniel Atienza (Spa) s.t., 20. Daniele Nardello (Ita) s.t., 21. Alexandre
Vinokourov (Kaz) s.t., 22. Roberto Conti (Ita) s.t., 23. Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel)
5:07, 24. Javier Ochoa (Spa) 5:38, 25. Peter Luttenberger (Aut) s.t., 26. Jon Odriozola
(Spa) s.t., 27. Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) 5:44, 28. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa) 5:46,
29. Enrico Zaina (Ita) 5:53, 30. Marcos Serrano (Spa) 5:59, 31. Jose Maria Jimenez
(Spa) 6:25, 32. Didier Rous (Fra) 6:34, 33. Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) 6:48, 34. Jean-Cyril
Robin (Fra) s.t., 35. Michael Boogerd (Ned) s.t., 36. Guido Trentin (Ita) 6:48, 37.
Roland Meier (Swi) 6:48, 38. Bo Hamburger (Den) 6:52, 39. David Plaza (Spa) s.t.,
40. Andrei Kivilev (Kaz) s.t., 41. Grischa Niermann (Ger) 7:03, 42. Mario Aerts (Bel)
9:28, 43. Laurent Madouas (Fra) s.t., 44. Udo Bolts (Ger) s.t., 45. Nico Mattan (Bel)
10:20, 46. Marc Lotz (Ned) s.t., 47. Abraham Olano (Spa) s.t., 48. Marcello Siboni
(Ita) s.t., 49. Francois Simon (Fra) 13:05, 50. Xavier Jan (Fra) s.t., 51. Marco
Velo (Ita) 13:07
1.Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 61hr 02min 33sec, 2. Jan Ullrich (Ger) at 4min
55sec, 3. Joseba Beloki (Spa) 5:52, 4. Christophe Moreau (Fra) 6:51, 5. Richard Virenque
(Fra) 8:26, 6. Roberto Heras (Spa) 8:33, 7. Manuel Beltran (Spa) 9:33, 8. Santiago
Botero (Col) 10:00, 9. Marco Pantani (Ita) 10:13, 10. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) 10:17,
11. Fernando Escartin (Spa) 10:56, 12. Javier Ochoa (Spa) 12:33, 13. Peter Luttenberger
(Aut) 12:48, 14. Pascal Herve (Fra) s.t., 15. Daniele Nardello (Ita) 13:24
64. David Millar (GBR/COF) 1h00’24"