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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Stage 17: As it happened

Stage 17:
Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand - 204.5km.
All times BST

Result:

1 Lance Armstrong
2 Andreas Kloden
3 Jan Ullrich @ 1 second
3 Ivan Basso @ 1 second
5 Floyd Landis @ 13 seconds
6 Axel Merckx @ 1 minute 1 second
6 Levi Leipheimer @ 1:01
8 Carlos Sastre @ 1:02
8 Michael Rasmussen @ 1:02
8 Georg Totshnig @ 1:02


1615: Kloden looks to have it in the bag but Armstrong comes from nowhere. He wins his 20th Tour stage win on the line from Kloden. Ullrich and Basso trail home with Landis in fifth.

1614: One kilometre to go and Kloden goes for home. He opens up daylight which Landis is striving to close.

1612: The riders are working well together now taking turns on the front as they ride into Le Grand-Bornand. Landis is the first to attack, two kilometres from the finish.

1610: The group of five are playing cat-and-mouse, waiting for someone to make a move.

1603: Landis is attacking on the descent with Ullrich on his tail. Arsmtrong is in third, opting for the cautious approach. As the road levels out all five leaders are back together, with Kloden hitting the front.

1600: Sastre loses contact with the leaders who are now one kilometre from the summit. After they crest the Col de la Croix Fry they have 13km downhill to the finish in Le Grand-Bornand. A sea of people part as they near the top of the Col with Landis still setting the tempo.

1555: It's one in, one out in the lead group. Sastre is caught, but Levi Leipheimer falls out the back. That means it is two from US Postal, two from T-Mobile and two from CSC and all set for a grandstand finish.

1551: The chasing group is down to six. Landis and Armstrong are being tailed by Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden, Levi Leipheimer and Ivan Basso in attendance.

1550: Sastre's five kilometres off the top of the climb and his advantage is coming down. Floyd Landis is doing the hard yards on the front of the peloton for US Postal.

1542: Sastre is going like the clappers and Virenque can't stick with him. Simoni's Herculean efforts in the day come to nought as he and Moreau are sucked back into the peloton, as Vireqnue is moments later. All three are spat straight out of the back of the lead group.

1540: Sastre bridges the gap and keeps going. Only Virenque can get on his wheel.

1538: Sastre goes again and goes solo this time. The "peloton", which numbers 12 now, is within sight of the leaders. Armstrong looks comfortable and has three team members still with him.

1535: The attacks start. Two CSC riders, Carlos Sastre and Ivan Basso test the water, but the US Postals are alive to the danger. Verbrugghe's back in the peloton.

1530: The three leaders start the final climb, the 11.5km Col de la Croix Fry. It's a first category climb with a nasty middle section that includes sharp switchbacks and a 10% gradient. Iker Flores attacks again but does not get very far at all before being reeled in.

1525: The leaders roll through the intermediate sprint with 28km left to the finish, Simoni taking the honours. Back down the road Rik Verbrugghe of Lotto-Domo springs off the front of the peloton.

1515: Aldag's back in the peloton which is setting a fierce pace on the flat with the US Postal's at the front. The chase is on and the odds are stacked against the three escapees getting to Le Grand-Bornand with time in hand.

1503: The peloton is within three minutes as former world mountain bike champion Michael Rasmussen leads them over the top of the Col. There is now a 10km descent and a further 13km of relatively flat racing before the final climb of the day.

1500: The leaders are making agonisingly slow progress in the final push to the top of the climb, but Virenque - as ever - leads them across the line. The King of the Mountains title is certainly his now for a record seventh time. Flores is back in the chasing pack.

1450: Lance Armstong's trusty lieutenant George Hincapie is at the head of the peloton, which has cut the lead to less than four minutes. Flores is making no headway. Thomas Voeckler is drifting off the back of the main group.

1440: The peloton has scatterted and now comprises less than 20 riders. They pull back Ludovic Martin and the US Postals are back in control of the main group.

1435: Aldag finally cracks as the leaders start the 8km climb. Back down the road T-Mobile take up the tempo at the front of the peloton from US Postal.

1430: There is little respite for the riders. Once the descent of the Col de Tamie finishes they are soon going up again on the Col de la Forclaz, the shortest but steepest climb of the day.

1420: Flores holds a narrow 15-second lead on the peloton as he goes over the top of the Col.

1415: Voigt's attack comes to nothing but Flores is dancing on the pedals and has opened up daylight from the US Postal train. The four leaders go over the top of the Col with Virenque leading the way.

1410: Jens Voigt of CSC chances his arm off the front of the peloton and is joined by Iker Flores of Euskaltel.

1400: CSC are beginning to share the workload with US Postal at the front of the peloton as the leaders start the climb to the Col de Tamie. Martin and Simeoni lose contact as the tempo picks up.

1345: The peloton is now chasing the leading group hard, reducing the gap to six minutes.

1330: The stage finally settles down in the valley between the hors category Col de la Madeleine and the second category Col de Tamie, a flat stretch that includes the day's feeding station.

1320: The nine US Postal riders lead the peloton on the descent and reel in Bartoli. The only other team with a full complement of riders is Rabobank.

1310: Riders snake down the Col. At the head of the field Moreau leads a group of six. Bartoli was unable to get back with the leaders.

1257: Paolo Bettini leads the peloton over the top of the Col de le Madeleine six minutes 45 seconds adrift. The main group is down to less than 50 riders after the gruelling climb.

1250: Simoni and Virenque sprint wheel for wheel over the highest point of the 2004 Tour and the Italian edges it.

1247: As the French duo catch sight of the leaders, Virenque springs off the front and leaves Moreau behind. There are 5,000 Euros on offer for the first man over the Col de la Madeleine.

1243: Virenque and Moreau catch and pass Bartoli.

1235: The leaders wend their way through the crowds on the upper slopes of the Col de la Madeleine and Bartoli drops off the pace.

1230: Virenque and Moreau are working well together and are within two minutes of the leaders. Astarloza is back in the peloton.

1215: With the thermometer nudging 30C, tops are flapping in the breeze on the unforgiving climb as riders unzip their vests in an effort to cool down.

1205: The peloton is shelling riders off the back, including points leader Robbie McEwen, Michael Boogerd and young Belgian star Tom Boonen.

1155: In the third group on the road, Virenque has finally deigned to do some work after leaving the hard yards to Moreau for the majority of the time. The duo becomes a trio as Astarloza is caught, but he soon finds the pace too hot to hold and drifts back.

1150: As it stands, with the leaders starting the 20km climb to the summit seven minutes in front, Simoni is fifth in the general classification.

1145: The leaders are in the valley between the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Madeleine, a feature on the Tour throughout its 101-year history. La Madeleine is the highest point in this year's Tour at 2000m.

1135: It is a technical, fast descent and Astarloza and Michele Scarponi take tumbles. They are back on their bikes in no time. Virenque and Christophe Moreau attack.

1125: Quick-Step lead Richard Virenque off the front of the peloton and the Frenchman picks up more points in the King of the Mountains category.

1120: Simoni, who has been on the front for the majority of the climb, leads the five escapees over the top of the Col du Glandon after the 23km climb.

1115:The leaders are on the last stretch to the top of the Col du Glandon. US Postal are leading the peloton, as they have done all morning.

1100: After an hour in the saddle, under clear blues skies and a baking sun, a number of riders are struggling off the back of the peloton. Thor Hushovd is the biggest name in trouble.

1035: Astarloza has failed to bridge the gap and is betwixt and between.

1025: The leaders start the uphill slog to Col du Glandon, a first category climb and the first of five climbs of the day. At the back of the peloton Janeck Tombak pulls out.

1018: Aldag takes the intermediate sprint at 9km, followed by Martin and Simoni. The group of five are 55 seconds clear. Mikel Astaloza goes off the front of the peloton looking to bridge the gap.

1010: After the exertions of the time trial up Alpe d'Huez you would think riders would be content taking it easy, but no. Five riders are off the front in the opening stages of the day. They are Michele Bartoli, Rolf Aldag, Filippo Simeoni, Gilberto Simoni and Ludovic Martin.

1000: Racing is under way.

It is the last real chance for anyone to make any dent in Lance Armstrong's seemingly unstoppable charge towards a record sixth Tour victory.

With three category one climbs, one 'hors category' and two category twos, there are opportunities to attack.





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