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  Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Armstrong climbs into yellow
Lance Armstrong
Armstrong has put his stamp on the race

Lance Armstrong has ominously moved into the yellow jersey after winning stage 11 of the Tour de France.

The Texan was in imperious form, moving into the lead with only four kilometres remaining alongside team-mate Roberto Heras and ONCE rider Joseba Beloki.

He rode up the final La Mongie climb of the 154km stage and ripped apart the remainder of the field, Santiago Botero, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and David Millar among the major losers in the overall classification.

Beloki battled for second ahead of an exhausted Heras in third.

Afterwards Armstrong said: "I'm very satisfied. I dedicate this victory to my team, and to Roberto Heras, who was incredible.

"For me, Roberto is the stage winner."

Laurent Jalabert
Jalabert had been the long-time leader

For a long time, though, France had looked on course for back-to-back home victories in the wake of Patrice Halgand's stage 10 triumph on Wednesday.

Just two days after announcing his retirement from cycling, Laurent Jalabert started Thursday's stage cycling like a man reborn.

The Frenchman tried to break as soon as racing had started but was continually pegged back by the peloton.

He eventually pulled away with a host of other riders on the 13km mark, stretching out his advantage on the Cote de Louvie-Jouzon.

He then pulled out on his own as he crept up the Col d'Aubisque.

David Etxebarria was the last man to fall off his pace as Jalabert pushed himself up the "without category" climb before living up to his billing as one of the great descenders of world cycling.

The mountains ripped the heart out of many of the other riders left in the race in the early stages.

Robbie McEwen went over the Col d'Aubisque some 10 minutes off the pace while another previous stage winner, Jaan Kirsipuu, was even further afield.

Eventually they clawed their way back into contention before the stage's final climb had an even more devastating effect.

Millar cracks

The leading riders started at the bottom of La Mongie together but, as Armstrong and his US Postal riders lifted the tempo, many had no answer.

Millar was among the first to crack before Armstrong, dispelling rumours he was not as strong this year, stormed into the lead with Heras.

Of the leading contenders, only Beloki could keep up.

As they approached the line, Armstrong, as a statement of intent, powered past the Spaniard to the line for the victory.

He now leads overall by 1m12s.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton
"Armstrong stamped his authority on the race"
Stage winner Lance Armstrong
"The team was the real winner"
All the actiion from the world's greatest bike race

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