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April 2006
   
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian


 

Hamilton in pain

Beloki's Crash

Crash on Luz Ardiden

Ullrich's TT slide

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Top 25 All Time Tours #6

2003: Lance's 5th The Year of the Crash

[also see Special Notes below]

The Centenary edition of the World's greatest cycling competition was designed to trace the route of the 1903 Tour. Four-time defending champion Lance Armstrong called the route a traditional Tour de France.

Heir apparent to Italian sprinting Alessandro Petacchi won stage 1 in Meaux, but the narrow finish was disastrous for American contenders Tyler Hamilton and Levi Leipheimer. Both crashed heavily with 30 other riders. Hamilton finished the stage but Leipheimer abandoned with a broken hip. In great pain from a broken collarbone Hamilton refused to abandon and came to the start line for stage 2.

The drama of the Tour continued to build on stage 9. Lance Armstrong had just taken the Maillot Jaune at the top of Alpe d'Huez on stage 8, when the always aggressive Alexandre Vinokourov escaped on the final climb of the Cote de la Rochette. ONCE's Joseba Beloki and Armstrong led the chase on the descent. Rounding a bend Beloki hit a soft tar path at full speed and fell heavily. Armstrong with no place to go was forced to continue the descent across a newly mowed hayfield. Vinokourov won the stage and Beloki was forced to abandon the Tour with multiple broken bones.

Germany 's Jan Ullrich tightened the overall classification with a win in the 47 km individual time trial on stage 12 and a 19 second time gain on the mountain top finish on stage 13. Ullrich was now in second place 15 seconds behind Armstrong.

The French have a saying “C'est Le Tour” , anything can happen in the Tour de France. Stage 15 was a pivotal effort for Armstrong. He held a tenuous 15 second lead over a hard charging Jan Ullrich. On the finishing climb of Luz Ardiden Armstrong attacked with Iban Mayo close behind. Rounding a corner a young spectator held out a musette bag that hooked Armstrong's handle bars sending both he and Mayo to the pavement. Ullrich swerved and avoided the crash. But rather than attack the fallen leader Ullrich observed the Tour tradition of not attacking a fallen Maillot Jaune. An inspired Armstrong regained the lead group and attacked again. He powered to a 40 second stage win. Trailing by 1'07” Ullrich vowed “the Tour is not over…”

It was time for the penultimate stage, a time trial, and Ullrich's final chance to gain time on Armstrong. The 49 km Stage 19 started in a pouring rain and gusting winds, but the focused German pulled out all the stops and gained 6 seconds in the first 2 kilometers. Ullrich was riding with incredible speed when suddenly with 10 km to go disaster struck. His front wheel hit an oily patch on one of the many roundabouts on the course and slipped to the ground. He quickly remounted but his concentration was shattered. Armstrong took no risks and finished 9 seconds ahead of Ullrich.

In Paris Lance Armstrong climbed on the podium of the Tour de France's Centenary edition to claim his fifth consecutive victory. Armstrong endured perhaps his hardest Tour and secured his place in history by joining the elite group of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain each with 5 Tour de France victories.

TdF 2003 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Prologue Paris/Tour-Eiffel-Paris/Maison de la Radio, 6.5 km ITT

Brad McGee (Aus)

Brad McGee (Aus)

Stage 1 Saint Denis-Meaux, 168 km

Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)

Brad McGee (Aus)

Stage 2 La Ferte sous Jouarre-Sedan, 204.5 km

Baden Cooke (Aus)

Brad McGee (Aus)

Stage 3 Charleville Mezieres-Saint Dizier, 167.5 km

Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)

Jean Patrick Nazon (Fra)

Stage 4 Joinville-Saint Dizier, 69 km TTT

US Postal

Victor Hugo Pena ( Col )

Stage 5 Troyes-Nevers, 196.5 km

Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)

Victor Hugo Pena ( Col )

Stage 6 Nevers-Lyon, 230 km

Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)

Victor Hugo Pena ( Col )

Stage 7 Lyon-Morzine, 230.5 km

Richard Virenque (Fra)

Richard Virenque (Fra)

Stage 8 Sallanches-L'Alpe d'Huez, 219 km

Iban Mayo (Spa)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 9 Bourg d'Oisans-Gap, 184.5 km

Alex Vinokourov (Kaz)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 10 Gap-Marseille, 219.5 km

Jakob Piil (Den)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 11 Narbonne-Toulouse, 153.5 km

Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 12 Gaillac-Cap Decouverte, 47 km ITT

Jan Ullrich (Ger)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 13 Toulouse-Plateau de Bonascre, 197.5 km

Carlos Sastre (Spa)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 14 Saint Girons-Loudenvielle, 191.5 km

Gilberto Simoni (Ita)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 15 Bagneres de Bigorre-Luz Ardiden, 159.5 km

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 16 Pau-Bayonne, 197.5 km

Tyler Hamilton ( USA )

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 17 Dax-Bordeaux, 181 km

Servais Knaven (Hol)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 18 Bordeaux-Saint Maixent l'Ecole, 202.5 km

Pablo Lastras (Spa)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 19 Pornic-Nantes, 49 km ITT

David Millar (GBr)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )

Stage 20 Ville d'Avray-Paris/Champs Elysees, 152 km

Jean Patrick Nazon (Fra)

Lance Armstrong ( USA )


Start List: 198

Finishers: 147

Distance: 3,427.5 km

Average Speed: 40.956 km/h



Special Note: The face of the peloton presented a new look in 2003. In March Andrei Kivilev crashed during Paris-Nice and died from a head injury. Subsequently cycling's governing body, the UCI, made helmets mandatory.

 

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