Armstrong's challengers aren't giving up

News & Results

07/14/2005| 0 comments
by David Cohen
Vinokourov demonstrated that he could come back, that he could do it in a dominating style worthy of Lance Armstrong himself. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Vinokourov demonstrated that he could come back, that he could do it in a dominating style worthy of Lance Armstrong himself. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Armstrong's challengers aren't giving up

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), in a notable recovery of form, won the 11 th stage of the 2005 Tour de France after a sprint to the line, where he bested Santiago Botero (Phonak). <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), in a notable recovery of form, won the 11 th stage of the 2005 Tour de France after a sprint to the line, where he bested Santiago Botero (Phonak). <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

Vinokourov?s win came after his near collapse during Stage 10 when he was dropped by the peloton on the second climb of the day and finished 24 th, falling to 16 th place in the overall standings.

 

On Wednesday, Vinokourov was determined to redeem himself and he did so splendidly, staying at the front virtually the whole race.   Notably, he was the first to arrive at the summit of the fearsome Col du Galibier.

 

 

But as far as the General Classification is concerned, Vinokourov?s feat did not change much, even though it improved his own standing from 16th to 12 th, 4.47 behind Armstrong.   Botero rose from 11 th to 6 th place where he now lies 3.48 behind the leader.

 

So, Lance Armstrong remains in yellow, trailed by the Danish sensation Mickael Rasmussen (Rabobank) by 38 seconds.   France?s veteran rider Christophe Moreau is in third at 2:34.   He moved past CSC?s Ivan Basso who is at 2.40.  

 

Did nothing change in Stage 11?   Did all that climbing up Col de la Madelaine (25.4 km at 6.1%), Col due Telegraphe (12 km at 6.7%, and finally Col du Galibier (17.5 km at 6.9%) really produce nothing of note?

 

Armstrong continues to be the favourite to win the 2005 Tour de France.   Every day he stays in yellow makes the likelihood of him being displaced more remote.

 

But those aching climbs Wednesday did demonstrate that this is still a race.   Armstrong may have asserted a degree of control on Tuesday but his main challengers are not giving up.

 

Vinokourov, obviously smarting from his humiliation, demonstrated that he could come back, that he could do it in a dominating style worthy of Lance Armstrong himself.

 

Vinokourov was certainly among those riders given a chance of dethroning Armstrong.   It?s clear that he is going for the prize.   He remains a significant threat.    The 14 th, 15 th, and 16 th Tour stages in the Pyrenees will provide ample opportunities to dig into Armstrong?s lead.

 

But the odds are against Vinokourov.   He doesn?t have Armstrong?s team to support him.    T-Mobile, nominally supporting Jan Ullrich?s bid for yellow, does not align itself in support of Vinokourov.

 

What Vinokourov did Wednesday was an individual effort and as such, it was perhaps more impressive that it would have been had he had the kind of support Armstrong enjoys.

 

But Wednesday also demonstrated that other challengers remain in the mix --   Mickael Rasmussen, Alejandro Valverde, Ivan Basso, Bobby Julich, and Santiago Botero.   Jan Ullrich, the principal contender, may recover his best form in the Pyrenees after jarring injuries suffered just before the Tour began and during Stage 9. Or, he could save his best for the

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