Stage 17: Bourg d'Oisans - Le Grand-Bornand

stage17 profile

Today belonged entirely to Landis. Landis shattered the peloton going up the final climb, and instead of the usual Landis->Azevedo handoff, not even Azevedo could hold on, leaving Landis to pull the select group of himself, Armstrong, Kloden, Ullrich, and Basso over the top. At this point Armstrong apparently asked Landis if he could descend fast, Landis said yes, and Armstrong responded, "Well go like you stole something." This all occurred during commercial break, so all I got to see was the end result, which was that Ullrich caught up to Landis and Armstrong, and rather than continue the escape, they all held up for Kloden and Basso. Kloden caught up and launched an attack, which Landis chased down, and from that point on it became a very tactical race with even Armstrong taking turns at the front.

In the final kilometer Landis launched an attack, but it was brief lived and Kloden launched a huge counterattack that put him way ahead. Armstrong seemed to let the attack go until the final seconds, when he let loose with a huge sprint that beat Kloden by half a bike length at the line -- see for yourself.

The big story of the day was supposed to be the inevitable Ullrich attack. No attack came, most likely because of the great control by Landis et al, and Armstrong was there for the denouement.

related articles: Tour de France 2004


Comments (2)

glynn:

Seeing the end of this stage was the single moment which grasped and held my interest in the Tour. I might become a fan of cycling only because of this. Well, your posts distilling the important points of each stage would be a factor too.

kwc:

If you're gonna become a cycling fan, I recommend TiVo. It was the only way I could wake up at a reasonable time and still watch the stage before I had to be in at work (otherwise I would have to avoid visiting news sites all day, which would suck). And I have to admit, there are boring portions of the race that you want to fast forward through.

In terms of exciting moments, previous years fared much better. Armstrong never attacked on a stage this year -- he pretty much let his teammates set a fast tempo until everyone fell off the back, and then sprinted at the very end.

To me, the best moments in cycling are when there are big attacks going up a mountain, or when there's a tactical finish like there was in this stage where you can see each of the riders trying to game each other into position.