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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Racewatch: Tour de France

Stage 15: Valreas to Villard-de-Lans - 180.5km
All times BST

Action from day 18 of the Tour de France.


Final Positions:
1. Armstrong
2. Basso
3. Ullrich
4. Kloden

1552: Thomas Voeckler is approaching the end in the final moments of his time in the yellow jersey. He finishes the stage nine and a half minutes behind Armstrong.

1545: Armstrong pounces with 200m to go and out-sprints Basso, with Ullrich finishing third and Kloden fourth. Armstrong will now take the yellow jersey and looks on course for a record sixth Tour victory.

1541: The closing stages look like being between Armstrong, Ullrich, Kloden, Basso and Leipheimer, who have broken clear of the rest. Kloden is trying to lead it out for Ullrich.

1538: The leading group of 10 only have 3km to go and are about to start the short final climb.

1530: The leading group has been joined by Voigt and Rasmussen on the descent, there are now less than 10km to go.

1521: Virenque takes them over the top of the climb and there is now just one climb left on the stage. The rest of the group is Armstrong, Azevedo, Ullrich, Kloden, Basso, Sastre and Leipheimer.

1515: Leiphemier pulls clear of Virenque, who is just ahead of the group, which is being led by two CSC riders. However, the group soon rides down both Virenque and Leipheimer.

1511: The Armstrong group is about to sweep up Virenque and Rasmussen. As they approach the leading pair Levi Leipheimer launches an attack and links up with the front two.

1503: The group containing the yellow jersey, Thomas Voeckler, is six minutes behind the Armstrong group and the American looks destined to take the lead at the end of the stage.

1457: Virenque and Rasmussen start the 11km climb of the Cote de Chalimont.

1454: Ullrich is swept up by the Armstrong group, bringing to an end his attack which saw him ahead by over a minute at one point.

1451: Armstrong's group is riding down Ullrich with Voigt, Azevedo and Landis doing most of the work. Ullrich will not stay away for much longer.

1441: The leading pair of Virenque and Rasmussen have 37km (23 miles) left to ride.

1437: CSC's Jens Voigt, who was ordered to wait for Armstrong's group, has hauled it to within a minute of Ullrich.

1433: Ullrich is one minute 40 seconds behind Virenque with Armstrong one minute nine seconds further back. The American looks unconcerned about Ullrich's escape as he leads him by more than six minutes overall.

1427: Yellow jersey Voeckler crosses the top of the fourth climb more than six minutes behind the leaders. Armstrong is being tracked by Basso about a minute behind Ullrich.

1424: Virenque and Rasmussen are back on their feet as they tackle the short third category climb, the fifth of the day.

1421: Virenque takes maximum points at the top of the climb ahead of Rasmussen, Brochard and Voigt. Ullrich goes over the top in fifth.

1419: Ullrich is reeling in the earlier escapees and will soon have only Virenque and Rasmussen ahead of him.

1413: Ullrich now leads Armstrong by 41 seconds.

1406: Ullrich launches an attack off the front of the peloton and pulls 10 seconds clear of Armstrong.

1404: At the front of the race the two leaders have been swept up by a group made up of Virenque, Santos Gonzalez, Rasmussen, Brochard, Voigt and Charteau. The yellow jersey wearer Voeckler is dropping off the back of the peloton.

1359: T-Mobile's Giuseppe Guerini is at the front of the peloton with Jan Ullrich sitting second as they try to put some pressure on Lance Armstrong.

1350: The stage leader Stuart O'Grady wins the day's second intermediate sprint ahead of Thor Hushovd with Laurent Brochard in third. The peloton is now five minutes and 45 seconds behind O'Grady.

1335: Australian Stuart O'Grady, who has been in the group chasing the leading quintet, makes a decisive break to build up a lead on his rivals with Thor Hushovd in pursuit with around 73km to go. Overall leader Thomas Voeckler has a moment of drama when he has to change bike but he safely rejoins the peloton.

1320: Richard Virenque takes the third climb at the halfway mark of the stage.
1. Richard Virenque (QSD) 10pts
2. Laurent Brochard (A2R) 9pts
3. Santos Gonzalez (PHO) 8pts
4. Mickael Rasmussen (RAB) 7pts
5. Jens Voigt (CSC) 6pts
6. Anthony Charteau (BLB) 5pts

1315: The group has been split up further with five riders now setting the pace approaching the top of the third climb. Ten riders are up to one minute back while the peloton is over three minutes behind. Richard Virenque is hoping for a good climb to boost his King of the Mountains chances.

1300: The leading group is starting to split up a bit and the next climb which is due shortly, could take its toll. Richard Virenque, Santos Gonzalez, Jens Voigt and Mickael Rasmussen hold a narrow lead but the peloton is still over two minutes behind.

1245: The leading group of 14 are gradually building up an advantage over the peloton and are now two and a half minutes clear as they approach the feeding station with around 100km to go.

1230: The leading group is now comprised of 15 riders, including Richard Virenque, Laurent Dufaux, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd and Aitor Gonzalez with the US Postal-led peloton in pursuit just over a minute behind while the second peloton has caught up with them.

1215: The nine-man breakaway is finally caught by the first of the two pelotons with the second peloton around a minute back.

1200: Richard Virenque tries to challenge the leading nine riders who are being keenly pursued by the peloton who are about 15 seconds behind and closing fast.

Axel Merckx records another win in the climb up the Cote de Puy-Saint-Martin after 38km.
1. Axel Merckx (LOT) 4pts
2. Santiago Botero (TMO) 3pts
3. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (PHO) 2pts
4. Vladimir Karpets (IBB) 1pt

1145: Nine riders hold a lead of around 25 seconds on the peloton - the leading riders include Axel Merckx, Santiago Botero, Aitor Gonzalez, Marcos Serrano and Stephane Goubert.

1135: Axel Merckx who is looking lively early on in the stage, makes a charge to win the opening climb up the Cote d'Aleyrac.
1. Axel Merckx (LOT) 4pts
2. Aitor Gonzalez (FAS) 3pts
3. Marcos Serrano (LST) 2pts
4. Jean-Cyril Robin (FDJ) 1pt

1130: The five-man group have been caught and now a group of around 15 riders are ahead of the peloton with the US Postal team leading the peloton charge as they approach the first climb of the day.

1115: An early break sees Janeck Tombak, Richard Virenque, Ludovic Martin, Carlos Dar Cruz and Vincente Garcia-Acosta get away but they are being hotly pursued.

1104: The riders are given the signal at the official start and the serious matters can begin.

1100: The stage starts with the riders travelling through the neutral zone to the official start. But Spain's Iban Mayo will not take any further part in the Tour after pulling out because of fatigue.




SEE ALSO
Mayo quits Tour de France
20 Jul 04  |  Cycling
Voeckler gets Olympic call
19 Jul 04  |  Cycling
Ullrich backs team-mate
19 Jul 04  |  Cycling
Piil pulls out of Tour
19 Jul 04  |  Cycling
Armstrong wary of Basso
17 Jul 04  |  Cycling
Hamilton out of Tour
17 Jul 04  |  Cycling
Brandt sacked by Lotto team
17 Jul 04  |  Cycling



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