Vinokourov Wins on Champs Elysees; Armstrong Wins Tour, Ends Career
The 2005 Tour de France and the career of Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) have ended.
The 2005 Tour de France and the career of Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) have ended. Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile) won the 21 st and final stage, a flat, 144.5-km run from Corbeil-Essonnes to Paris, in 3:40:57. Brad McGee (La Francaise des Jeux) held off Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) for second.
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The last stage of the Tour, which is traditionally a procession for the winner, began that way today. The usually high-spirited procession was solemn as Armstrong made his way through the peloton, approaching riders and team directors and thanking them. Rainfall seemed to underscore the mood of the peloton.
At 82 km, the slick roads produced a crash. Three of Armstrong?s men crashed in front of him, and the man from Austin had to brake and plant his right foot to avoid going down. At 90 km, the race jury declared the race neutralized for GC purposes and that the official time at the first crossing of the finish line would be the race?s final time check.
Eventually, the sun appeared, and the racing became aggressive. Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), Carlos Da Cruz (La Francaise des Jeux), Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis), Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), and Andrei Grivko and Alessandro Vanotti (both from Domina Vacanze) escaped and built a 0:30 lead. With 24 km left, the 10 were reeled in, and Servais Knaven (Quick Step) mounted a brief attack before Chris Horner (Saunier Duval) and Bram Tankirk (Rabobank) got away. The bunch reeled in the break with nine km left, and the field seemed to be preparing for a sprint.
Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom) attacked with four km left. Vinokourov set out after the Frenchman, and Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r) and McGee followed. McGee countered, and at the one-km banner, Vinokourov had not caught the Australian. The Kazakh, however, moved to McGee?s wheel and then passed the Aussie for the win. Vinokourov received time bonuses for his finish line sprint that bumped Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) into sixth place overall.
After the stage, Armstrong?s children greeted him on the podium, and the seven-time Tour winner spoke. He congratulated runnerup Ivan Basso (CSC) and third placer Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and wished them luck. The man who has sometimes had a prickly relationship with the French endeared himself to them by saying, ?Vive le Tour. Forever.?
Armstrong defeated Basso by 4:40 and Ullrich by 6:21. In other competitions, Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) won the green jersey, Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) took the King of the Mountains competition, and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) won the white jersey. Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) and T-Mobile won the combativity and team competitions, respectively. These riders and all of the others who contested the 2004 Tour will ride the summer and fall classics and the one-day and stage races leading up to the 2006 Tour. How will they fare? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!