Stage 6: Vitre – Tours
Tours, July 6 2000 — Laurent Jalabert and his team mates apparently answered a call
from Mother Nature at the side of the road to Tours today causing them to miss the
12-rider attack at 14km that subsequently saw him lose the overall lead in the 2000
Tour de France.
Australian sprint hero, Stuart O’Grady, the heir apparent to Erik Zabel’s fading
green jersey dominance, was involved in a bad crash in the peloton at 112km. He
fell heavily on his right side, breaking the collarbone and will sadly take no further
part in the race. From a personal point of view it’s a tragedy for the plucky Aussie.
He along with his teammates, his fans Down Under and his many friends in the peloton
will be devastated at today’s events which have denied him what might have been his
best ever opportunity to wrestle the points competition away from Zabel for the first
time in five years.
ONCE claimed yesterday that they had few ambitions to keep the jersey today anyway
as they intend to save themselves for the serious stuff on the first mountain stage
to Hautacam in the Pyrenees on Monday. Today confirmed that claim, and also sent
out a signal to the rest of the peloton that the Spaniards have bigger prizes on
their mind than chasing down opportunistic breakaways for the sake of another day
at the top of the podium.
Despite the breakaway contravening an age-old gentleman’s agreement in the peloton
not to attack the yellow jersey when he is otherwise disposed, Jalabert seemed unperturbed
at the loss of his lead:
"We don’t see why we should always be the ones to take up the chase. Anyway
the team is tired after the team time trial."
Obviously for the Geneva-based French rider and his team they rightly see the road
to victory in Paris, two weeks on Sunday, as a marathon not a sprint. Patience is
the name of ONCE’s game.
Alberto Elli, the 36-year old Italian journeyman took over the mantle from the Frenchman,
finishing sixth in the chasing pack behind stage winner, Leon van Bon. The recently
crowned Dutch champion outsprinted his Rabobank team mate Marcus Zberg in the closing
150 meters to take the honours in Tours. It was van Bon’s second stage success having
already tasted victory in Pau in 1998.
For Elli, in his 11th Tour, victory was sweet but he is not allowing it to cloud
his German Telekom team’s ultimate aim:
"I’m satisfied with what I’ve achieved but the most important thing for the
team is to support Ullrich. This doesn’t change anything."
Defending champion Lance Armstrong, some might say perfectly poised for the Pyrenees
in 12th place, 5mins 54secs off the lead, but with time on all his main rivals(and
who knows maybe the Texan will even launch a surprise attack on the hilly finish
in tomorrow’s long haul to Limoges), echoed Elli’s sentiments:
"It was a hard day and tomorrow’s even harder. We didn’t expect the attack and
I don’t think Jalabert did either. What happened today changed the race a little
bit but the real favourites are still the same."
Approaching the end of the first week of what has already been a fascinatingly unpredictable
Tour de France, one thing is certain(with the cagey mind games and kidology coming
at us thick and fast, and the favourites about to reveal the cards they’ve been thus
far keeping tight to their chests, over the next few thrilling days), it’s anybody’s
1. Leon van Bon (Hol) Rabobank 4hr 28min 06sec, 2. Markus Zberg (Swi) s.t., 3. Emmanuel
Magnien (Fra) s.t., 4. Servais Knaven (Hol) s.t., 5. Arvis Piziks (Lat) s.t., 6.
Alberto Elli (Ita) s.t., 7. Fabrice Gougot (Fra) s.t., 8. Salvatore Commesso (Ita)
s.t., 9. Jacky Durand (Fra) s.t., 10. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa) s.t., 11. Pascal Chanteur
(Fra) s.t., 12. Marc Wauters (Bel) at 13sec, 13. Robbie McEwen (Aus) 7:49, 14. Marcel
Wust (Ger) s.t., 15. Magnus Backstedt (Swe) s.t., 16. Erik Zabel (Ger) s.t., 17.
Jans Koerts (Ned) s.t., 18. Damien Nazon (Fra) s.t., 19. Glenn Magnusson (Swe) s.t.
1.Alberto Elli (Ita) Telekom 18hr 58min 40sec, 2. Fabrice Gougot (Fra) at 12sec,
3. Marc Wauters (Bel) 1:17, 4. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) 2:56, 5. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa)
3:08, 6. Jacky Durand (Fra) 3:27, 7. Salvatore Commesso (Ita) 3:52, 8. Servais Knaven
(Hol) 4:31, 9. Arvis Piziks (Lit) 4:38, 10. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 5:40, 11. David
Canada (Spa) 5:52, 12. Lance Armstrong (USA) 5:54, 13. Abraham Olano (Spa) 6:13,
14. Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) 6:17, 15. Viacheslav Ekimov (Rus) 6:23