Stage 15: Briancon - Courchevel - Bike Magic

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Stage 15: Briancon – Courchevel

Stage 15: Briancon – Courchevel

Courchevel, France, July 16 2000 – Streakers are a common sight these days at major
sporting events, whether hurdling the wickets, goolies akimbo, at Lord’s at a test
cricket match, or flashing their boobies on the centre court at Wimbledon.

However, on today’s 15th stage of the 2000 Tour de France, a 173.5km Alpine ride
from Briancon to Courchevel, it was an altogether different kind of sporting terrorist
that threatened to disrupt the proceedings.

For a start the two "streakers" who managed to dodge security and make
a dash for the line in the last 1km of the race were fully clothed.

Indeed, one of the jokers was clad in a yellow jersey and hijacked the final sprint
of a leading bunch including Joseba Beloki who was attempting to dislodge Jan Ullrich
from second place on the overall standings.

The Spaniard missed out by a mere 2 seconds, perhaps thrown off line by the Lance-a-like
who veered onto the road, raising his arms aloft in a mock victory salute as he crossed
the line, to much hilarity from the sidelines. Git.

As Marco Pantani headed towards the summit at Courchevel, having passed and dropped
the stage leader Jose-Maria Jimenez of Banesto in the final 3km, another goon, this
time bedecked in full Kelme gear including race numbers on his bike, appeared from
nowhere and tried to catch the wheel of the Italian. Luckily, Pantani was going too
fast approaching the 1km banner and streaked away from the quasi-streaker without
a glance.

Jimenez who had briefly hit the front after pushing ahead of Daniele Nardello of
Mapei in the final 5km, would have been forgiven for shaking his head in disbelief
as Thursday’s winner at Mont Ventoux suddenly darted past his left-hand shoulder
and disappeared up the mountain in a blaze of shocking pink.

He finished a sad 41 secs behind the Mercatone man having at one point seemed certain
of victory.

The real Lance Armstrong not only kept hold of his yellow jersey after coming in
50sec behind the leading two, but rubbed more salt into Jan Ullrich’s wounds as the
German cracked under the strain.

At the end of another long day in the Alps, Jan Ullrich will be ruing another Christmas
cake-fest that leaves him languishing a distant second overall, 7’26" behind
the mighty Texan. Armstrong has an almost unassailable cushion now, and, barring
absolute catastrophe, is surely certain to retain his crown in Paris a week today.

Pantani, ninth at the start of the day 10min 13sec behind Armstrong, gave a delighted
one-armed salute as he crossed the line for his second stage win in this year’s Tour
and his seventh overall.

"I had already won on Mont Ventoux but today I had to do the last bit all on
my own," said the shaven-headed Italian.

"Armstrong was very strong – but this was my race. Today I climbed very well
I gave it 100 percent even though I have had a little bronchitis – but I was very
strong. This is a present for all my Italian friends."

Forgive me, but at this point I feel compelled to paraphrase a tired but apt piece
of commentary, pre-empting another famous victory on the sporting field, from many
moons ago:

"Some of the crowd are on the course…wait a minute…who’s that charlie in
the yellow jersey…maybe he thinks it’s all over…it is now!"

Results & overall standings


1. Marco Pantani (Ita/MER), 173.5 km in 5 h 34:46.

(average speed: 31.096 km/h)

2. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spain/BAN) at 00:41.

3. Roberto Heras (Spa/KEL) 00:50.

4. Lance Armstrong (USA/USP) 00:50.

5. Daniele Nardello (Ita/MAP) 01:00.

6. Santiago Botero (Col/KEL) 01:09.

7. Massimiliano Lelli (Ita/COF) 02:17.

8. Fernando Escartin (Spa/KEL) 02:21.

9. Christophe Moreau (Fra/FES) 02:21.

10. Richard Virenque (Fra/PLT) 02:21.

11. Joseba Beloki (Spa/FES) 02:26.

12. Pascal Herve (Fra/PLT) 02:42.

13. Francisco Mancebo (Spa/BAN) 03:16.

14. Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel/LOT) 03:20.

15. Jan Ullrich (Ger/TEL) 03:21.

16. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita/BAN) 03:36.

17. Javier Ochoa (Spa/KEL) 03:44.

18. Manuel Beltran (Spa/MAP) 04:01.

19. Roberto Conti (Ita/VIN) 04:01.

20. Geert Verheyen (Bel/LOT) 05:11.

21. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa/FES) 06:17.

22. Daniel Atienza (Spa/SAE) 06:37.

23. Peter Luttenberger (Aust/ONC) 07:43.

24. David Moncoutie (Fra/COF) 08:00.

25. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra/BJT) 08:00.

26. Roland Meier (Swi/COF) 08:00.

27. Grischa Niermann (Ger/RAB) 09:01.

28. Michael Boogerd (Hol/RAB) 09:01.

29. Marcos Serrano (Spa/ONC) 09:01.

30. Bo Hamburger (Den/MCJ) 09:52.

General Classification:

1. Lance Armstrong (USA/USP) 66 h 38:09.

2. Jan Ullrich (Ger/TEL) at 07:26.

3. Joseba Beloki (Spa/FES) 07:28.

4. Christophe Moreau (Fra/FES) 08:22.

5. Roberto Heras (Spa/KEL) 08:25.

6. Marco Pantani (Ita/MER) 09:03.

7. Richard Virenque (Fra/PLT) 09:57.

8. Santiago Botero (Col/KEL) 10:19.

9. Fernando Escartin (Spa/KEL) 12:27.

10. Francisco Mancebo (Spa/BAN) 12:43.

11. Manuel Beltran (Esp/MAP) 12:44.

12. Daniele Nardello (Ita/MAP) 13:34.

13. Pascal Herve (Fra/PLT) 14:40.

14. Javier Ochoa (Spa/KEL) 15:23.

15. Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel/LOT) 16:26.

16. Peter Luttenberger (Aust/ONC) 19:41.

17. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa/BAN) 21:07.

18. Felix Garcia Casas (Spa/FES) 23:21.

19. Marcos Serrano (Spa/ONC) 27:31.

20. Michael Boogerd (Hol/RAB) 27:44.

21. Roberto Conti (Ita/VIN) 29:10.

22. Guido Trentin (Ita/VIN) 31:43.

23. Nico Mattan (Bel/COF) 34:37.

24. Grischa Niermann (Ger/RAB) 35:25.

25. Geert Verheyen (Bel/LOT) 36:00.

26. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra/BJT) 36:18.

27. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita/TEL) 36:30.

28. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kzk/TEL) 38:48.

29. Bo Hamburger (Den/MCJ) 40:56.

30. Tyler Hamilton (USA/USP) 41:59.

31. Enrico Zaina (Ita/MER) 43:17.

32. Leonardo Piepoli (Ita/BAN) 46:16.

33. Roland Meier (Swi/COF) 49:49.

34. Mario Aerts (Bel/LOT) 52:51.

35. Daniel Atienza (Spa/SAE) 53:34.

36. Massimiliano Lelli (Ita/COF) 55:05.

37. Alex Zuelle (Swi/BAN) 57:07.

38. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol/BAN) 57:22.

39. Laurent Madouas (Fra/FES) 59:37.

40. Abraham Olano (Spa/ONC) 59:52.


67. David Millar (GBR/COF) 1h38:27.


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