Tour de France Stage 18: Bordeaux to Saint-Maixent-l'Ecole

stage profile

A relatively flat stage still managed to provide it's mix of drama. In the first sprint of the day Armstrong and Ullrich followed McEwen out - McEwen predictably won the sprint and picked up six sprint points to move into a tie with Cooke, Ullrich took the 4" time bonus and Armstrong the 2".

From then on it was a sixteen rider breakaway of no one particularly important, but it provided an interesting contrast to yesterday's breakaway. Quick-Step tried to repeat the antics of yesterday's stage win of Knaven. The breakaway group split in two with 20km to go, and with around 10km to go Quick-Step sent Ca�ada off the front. As the chase group did a better job of organizing itself than yesterday, but Ca�ada managed to hold the gap at 5-7" up until 1km to go. With 100m to go and Ca�ada still up front, Da Cruz closed the gap with Nardello and Lastras following. Lastras then outsprinted Da Cruz and Nardello to take the stage.

With Cooke and McEwen tied for the green jersey, the last bit of excitement came in the sprint for 17th place and the final sprint points on the day. Zabel had the early lead in the sprint, but McEwen came off his wheel and took the points. Cooke rode on McEwen's wheels but didn't have the legs to win it out.

related articles: Tour de France 2003
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