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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 July, 2003, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Racewatch: Stage eight
Stage eight: Sallanches - L'Alpe d'Huez - 211km.


All the action as it happened on a brutally tough eighth stage of the Tour de France (All times BST).

  • Mayo wins by more than a minute
  • Vinokourov finishes second
  • Armstrong outsprints a group of seven to place third
  • Ullrich, Virenque, Millar and others lose time

    1628: After his brave win on Saturday, Virenque loses nine minutes and his yellow jersey on the Alpe d'Huez.

    1624: David Millar puts in a reasonable climb, finishing six minutes off Mayo's time.

    1621: Ullrich limits his losses to three and a half minutes with a late surge to stay in distant contention in the overall classification.

    1619: Group Armstrong cross the line more than two minutes off Mayo's pace. The American has the final say on a day when his rivals sought to break him, outsprinting six of them to take third place on a gruelling stage.

    And, despite having a rough day in the saddle, Armstrong is back in his favourite colour. . . yellow.

    1618: Vinokourov protects his slim lead over the chase group to finish second.

    1616: Spaniard Mayo has time to do up his jersey as he coasts to a memorable victory. Armstrong's group is four-strong again, as Hamilton, Beloki and Zubeldia join him.

    1614: Joseba Beloki kicks on again. Armstrong can match him but the injured Hamilton finally falls back. Meanwhile, Jan Ullrich is staging a recovery and is closing the gap to the chase group of four.

    1612: Iban Mayo looks a likely winner of the stage now and a rider to watch in the overall standings.

    1610: Hamilton is pulled back into the chasing group of seven, but the danger is not over for Armstrong, who is still surrounded by rivals Laiseka, Zubeldia, Mancebo and Beloki.

    1606: Tyler Hamilton is the next rider to attack Armstrong and there are signs that the great Armstrong is having an off day.

    1600: The chasing pack is growing as Armstrong's rivals come back to him. And, sensing weakness in the defending champion, Vinokourov attacks him again.

    1556: Heras and Vinokourov have come back to the Armstrong group. But Mayo has built up a cushion at the front of the field.

    1552: Armstrong brings Mayo and Hamilton up to Beloki and Mayo immediately launches his own attack.

    1547 Beloki, who is part of the breakaway group along with Armstrong, attacks.

    1543 Amazingly Tyler Hamilton, who broke his collarbone on the first day of the Tour, is managing to keep up with the pace set by Lance Armstrong and his US Postal team-mates.

    1538 The US Postal team launch an attack on the first kilometre of Alpe D'Huez. The field is split with overall leader Richard Virenque one of those being dropped while another of Lance Armstrong's rivals, Jan Ullrich, is nowhere in sight.

    1535 The two leaders arrive on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez.

    1520: US Postal team-mates Heras and Armstrong appear to touch wheels, but they keep going without the loss of much time and rejoin the chase group intact.

    1510: The yellow jersey of Richard Virenque is now unprotected because he has no Quick Step team-mates left to help him up the Alpe d'Huez. Early leader Merckx has hit the wall and currently lies 26 minutes off the pace.

    1503: Good news for David Millar. The Scot continues his encouraging Tour by catching the Armstrong group on the descent.

    1500: As the long descent that precedes the climbing of Alpe d'Huez begins, the leading pack re-forms. But, immediately, Mikel Astarloza and Didier Rous launch an attack.

    1451: Garzelli wins the sprint to the top of the Col du Galibier, dropping some high-class riders from his wheel. Manebo, Moreau, Virenque and Zubeldia follow him over and, tellingly, Armstrong and Ullrich cross the line almost together.

    1442: There is a prize of 5,000 euros on offer for the first man to reach the top of the Col du Galibier.

    1435: US Postal henchmen George Hincapie, Manuel Beltran and Jose Luis Rubiera push the pace, probably with a view to setting up an attack by their leader Armstrong later in the day.

    1428: The US-Postal driven lead group is about 30-strong and includes big names like Ullrich, Hamilton, Beloki, Moreau, Vinokourov and Virenque.

    1424: Briton David Millar has fallen off the now-furious pace being set by the US Postal riders. And brief leader Glomser has been overhauled.

    1420: Fedrigo is swallowed up by a chasing peloton that is being driven by six US Postal riders. Despite his injury on stage one, Tyler Hamilton is still in touch.

    1412: There has been a lead change. Fedrigo is caught and passed by Glomser, but the Saeco rider has only a slender advantage over a fast-moving peloton, which includes Armstrong and Virenque.

    1407: A sensational surge of speed drops Paolo Bettini and Luca Paolini from the peloton. This stage is heating up.

    1400: The leading riders are now sweating on the first "hors categorie" climb of this year's Tour - the Col du Galibier. It is on inclines like this that reigning champ Lance Armstrong is likely to stamp his authority on proceedings. And, sure enough, his US Postal team hits the front of the peloton.

    1350: Fedrigo is first over the Col du Telegraphe, ahead of Glomser and Renier. The yellow jersey of Virenque scales the summit in fourth place bringing with him Armstrong and many of the other Tour favourites.

    1340: Long-time leaders Merckx and Portal have been caught by the peloton as the going gets increasingly difficult on the Col du Telegraphe.

    1330: As Fedrigo forces the pace, the field behind him continues to fracture.

    1320: The third climb - the Col du Telegraphe - has already claimed its victims. Merckx and Portal have lost touch with the leaders, while Santiago Botero has slipped off the pace of the chasing peloton.

    1305: The front foursome are holding the chasing pack at bay, but that could soon change as the Tour's first "hors categorie" climb looms.

    1225: Following a frantic start to the stage, things have settled down and there are now only two groups on the road - the leading quatet and the peloton, which trails by over two minutes.

    1200: As the attacks come thick and fast, Nicolas Portal still leads the stage, but he has been joined by Pierrick Fedrigo, Franck Renier and Axel Merckx, who is trying to make good on his pre-start pledge to scale Alpe d'Huez first.

    1150: A moment of controversy. Yellow jersey wearer Richard Virenque pulls to the side of the road to answer a call of nature and Pineau breaks the riders' unwritten code of conduct by launching an attack. It fails and the Brioche cyclist is reprimanded by leading names in the peloton.

    1136: After 50km, Gilberto Simoni is dropped by the peloton, further diminishing his pre-race claims on the yellow jersey.

    1130: Nicolas Portal is sole leader of the stage, having opened up a 30-second advantage over the first peloton.

    1115: Virenque is first up the Cote des Rafforts, but ominously the US Postal boys are to the fore with trusty henchman George Hincapie leading Lance Armstrong over the summit in third place.

    1110: Millar succeeds in chasing down the first peloton, but he is faring better than some. As the riders hit the second climb of the day, a number of names are falling off the pace.

    1105: A break by Nicolas Portal and Mikel Artetxe has split the field into two pelotons. Briton David Millar has been caught between the two and is frantically trying to catch the advanced group.

    1045: Richard Virenque consolidates his position at the top of the "King of the Mountains" classification by picking up a maximum 10 points at the top of the day's first climb, the Cote de Megeve. But the peloton remains intact.

    1030: Racing is under way on another sun-baked day in France. There have been three overnight withdrawals - Aitor Gonzalez, Sven Montgomery and Volodymir Gustov.

    1010: Sunday's stage includes two of the toughest ascents of this year's Tour - the Col du Galibier and the Alpe d'Huez.



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