BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Other Sports: Cycling  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
Statistics
US Sport
Horse Racing
Snooker
Sailing
Cycling
Skiing
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Virenque cracks Ventoux
Richard Virenque
Virenque rode a breathtaking 14th stage


Richard Virenque has left the world's leading climbers trailing after riding to a breathtaking victory on Mont Ventoux.

The French cyclist, in his first Tour since serving a ban for doping, was in imperious form as he rode up what is the toughest individual climb of the race.

The Domo-Farm Frites rider had warned prior to the day's start that he had planned to make an early break in a bid for a mountain victory.

And the Frenchman kept his promise just 40 minutes into racing with 10 other riders.

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong stretched his overall lead

They stayed together until the bottom of Mont Ventoux when Virenque and Alexandre Botcharov broke clear.

Virenque lifted the tempo once more to hold off Botcharov in second and the late threat of Lance Armstrong, who had to settle for third 2m20s back.

Armstrong had another sensational day in the saddle, pulling clear of Joseba Beloki and the rest of his leading rivals with 7km left of the "without category" climb.

And they had no answer as he rapidly closed the gap on Virenque only for the Frenchman to do just enough to keep in front.

The Texan crossed the line one-and-a-half minutes clear of Beloki, the second-placed rider on the Tour.

For Virenque, though, it capped a sensational turnaround in the sport.

The 1997 Tour runner-up became the central figure in the doping scandal which ripped through the sport and missed the whole of last season as he served a drug suspension.


Maybe it's not possible for me to win on this climb
Lance Armstrong

He struggled to find a new team on his return and had looked past his best during the two Pyrenean stages when he failed to match Lance Armstrong.

Afterwards Virenque said: "It's a great feeling. I'm on top of the world."

Armstrong now leads the Tour by 4m21s from Beloki and looks certain to wrap up a fourth victory in Paris next weekend.

But Ventoux remains a stage he has yet to win, having gifted Marco Pantani victory on the summit back in 2000.

The American said: "Maybe it's not possible for me to win on this climb. It's special, it's a difficult climb. I'm glad for him (Virenque)."

Britain's David Millar struggled after his stage win on the previous day. He finished 67th and 18 minutes behind Virenque.

The Tour will grind to a temporary halt for the 163 riders left in the race on Monday with a rest day.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Simon Brotherton
"Virenque was suspended from last year's tour"
All the actiion from the world's greatest bike race

Results/standings

Riders/teams

Clickable guides

Star interviews
Links to more Cycling stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Cycling stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales