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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Armstrong rides into yellow
Lance Armstrong celebrates as he crosses the line to win Tuesday's stage
Lance Armstrong moved into the race lead after a dramatic victory on stage 15 of the Tour de France.

The Texan had gone into Tuesday's stage 22 seconds behind race leader Thomas Voeckler but easily overhauled the Frenchman in a tense finish.

Armstrong had looked in danger earlier in the stage when rival Jan Ullrich pulled as much as one minute clear.

But Armstrong hit back and proved too strong for Ullrich and Ivan Basso in a sprint for the line.

The five-time champion now leads Basso in the overall standings by one minute and 25 seconds and is almost seven minutes clear of Ullrich.

"Johan Bruyneel (the US Postal team boss) said to me this morning he expected Jan to break," said Armstrong afterwards.

"But it was harder than I expected - more aggressive. But it's great to be back in yellow today."

From the outset, it was once again a day full of breakaways.

The first successful one saw the likes of sprinters Stuart O'Grady and Thor Hushovd go clear along with established climbers Richard Virenque and Mickael Rasmussen.

But Tuesday's stage was thrown into turmoil when Ullrich attacked up the first-category Colde l'Echarasson, at one stage pulling more than a minute clear of Armstrong.

The American refused to panic, though, and reeled Ullrich in with the help of his US Postal team and Basso's CSC riders.

The group were reduced to just four riders in the final sprint after the climb to Villard-de-Lans, with Armstrong edging out Basso, Ullrich in third and Andreas Kloden back in fourth.

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