Tour de France 2003 / stages

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The prologue of the Tour de France 2003 , like the start of the first tour ( 1903 ), took place in the French capital Paris . Ski star Hermann Maier opened the prologue unofficially , his time was not counted.

The traditional short individual time trial at the start of the tour, this time under the Eiffel Tower, was won by Australian time trial specialist Bradley McGee with a minimal lead over David Millar ( Sco ), who was prevented from winning his second prologue victory after 2000 due to a defective bike . Jan Ullrich (fourth place) was able to leave Lance Armstrong behind for the first time in a tour time trial , who only came in seventh, five seconds behind Ullrich.

First stage

Saint-Denis - Meaux : Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
The first, flat stage began in the Paris district of Montgeron , where the first Tour de France started in 1903 . In contrast to then, this time there was the expected sprint finish, which the Italian Petacchi won ahead of Robbie McEwen ( Australia ) and Erik Zabel . Shortly before, a mass fall on the last kilometer had brought most of the field to a standstill. Above all, the two American favorites Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Hamilton fell hard: Leipheimer gave up, Hamilton continued the tour despite a double hairline crack in his collarbone .

Second and third stage

2nd stage : La Ferté-sous-Jouarre - Sedan : Baden Cooke (Aus)
3rd stage : Charleville-Mézières - Saint-Dizier : Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
Two more flat stages brought another decision in the sprint : after Alessandro Petacchi in the In the second stage he fell shortly before the end and was unable to intervene in the decision, the Australian Cooke prevailed ahead of Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) and Jaan Kirsipuu (Est). The next day Petacchi was back and won easily. Nazon took over the yellow jersey for one day due to time credits .

Fourth stage

Joinville - Saint-Dizier : US Postal - Berry Floor (MZF)
The difficult team time trial over 69 km was won for the first time by Lance Armstrong's US Postal team , who were able to take half a minute from the ONCE time trial specialists. The Bianchi team with Jan Ullrich , which was newly formed shortly before the tour, was convincing and was 43 seconds behind in third place. In general, the gaps between the teams were not as great as in previous years, but the co-favorites Simoni ( Saeco ) and Iban Mayo ( Euskaltel ) lost several minutes each. In the overall standings, the US Postal drivers took the first eight places, with the Colombian Víctor Hugo Peña in the yellow jersey .

Fifth and sixth stages

5th stage : Troyes - Nevers : Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
6th stage : Nevers - Lyon : Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
After the time trial , two more flat stages were carried out, with a classic race course: long escapes of small groups were unsuccessful because the sprinter teams each brought the field just before the goal. At the finish line, the winner for the third and fourth time was Alessandro Petacchi . The Italian from the Fassa Bortolo team , who had already won six stages at the Giro d'Italia in May, dominated the sprints as confidently as only a Mario Cipollini in his best times before .

Seventh stage

Lyon - Morzine : Richard Virusque (Fra)
The first mountain stage of the tour did not present any major difficulties for the riders, but a first category mountain shortly before the finish. From a four-man breakaway group, the French star climber Richard Virusque pulled away on the last mountain and won the stage, the yellow jersey and the dotted jersey . With second place, the bravely fighting Telekom driver Rolf Aldag achieved the best result of his career. The favorites were still holding back, but the highly bet Simoni and Botero disappointed and were left behind . Various drivers gave up the race, including four-time stage winner Petacchi .

Eighth stage

Sallanches - L'Alpe d'Huez : Iban Mayo ( Spain )
The (supposed) king's stage over the highest point of the tour, the over 2600 m high Galibier , and finally the mythical 21 hairpin bends up to L'Alpe d'Huez to the first mountain arrival the tour did not bring the expected preliminary decision. In his four Tour victories, Lance Armstrong had always attacked on the first difficult mountain stage and clearly distanced his opponents. This time the Texan held back and instead faced a series of attacks on the final climb. Two drivers were able to pull away: Iban Mayo won confidently, Alexander Vinokurow took second place. Armstrong only responded when 2002 Tour runner-up Joseba Beloki attacked several times. Armstrong led a group of seven across the finish line about two minutes after Mayo and took over the yellow jersey without his usual show of strength. Jan Ullrich lost about a minute and a half to the Armstrong group, but later revealed that he had been badly affected by stomach poisoning.

Ninth stage

Le Bourg-d'Oisans - Gap : Alexander Vinokurow (Kaz)
The profile of the ninth stage did not suggest any changes in the overall classification, as only the first half of the stage was in mountainous terrain. But the race to Gap showed, as in the textbook, that it is the drivers who make the race difficult. After the whole stage had been driven hard, the two short climbs a few kilometers from the finish brought many new attacks: the Spaniards Joseba Beloki and Iban Mayo attacked as they did the day before, Lance Armstrong countered. On the last mountain, Alexander Vinokurow was finally able to
pull away , caught up with a breakaway group, including Jörg Jaksche (who had temporarily ridden in the virtual yellow jersey ), and won the stage. Behind it a drama took place: while chasing back on the dangerous last descent, Joseba Beloki, who was second in the classification, had a hard crash and had to give up the race with several breaks. Armstrong, who had driven directly behind Beloki, had to swerve and put in a spectacular cross-country drive. After this last Alpine stage , Armstrong was in the lead just ahead of Winokurow and Mayo in the overall standings, with Jan Ullrich in wait. One of the most exciting tours in recent years was emerging.

Tenth and eleventh stages

10th stage : Gap - Marseille : Jakob Piil (Dän)
11th stage : Narbonne - Toulouse : Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa)
Two so-called transfer stages between the Alps and the Pyrenees gave larger groups the chance to win a stage. In Marseille , the Dane Jakob Piil prevailed against Fabio Sacchi in a two-man sprint , after the rest day, the Spanish Banesto driver Juan Antonio Flecha won in Toulouse after he had broken away from his runaways 10 km from the finish.

Twelfth stage

Jan Ullrich on the first climb of the individual time trial

Gaillac - Cap 'Découverte : Jan Ullrich (D)
The first individual time trial, the so-called “Race of Truth”, on a demanding undulating course, took place, like the stages in the previous days, in searing heat. The big favorite Lance Armstrong had to admit defeat surprisingly clearly at the end of the day: A superior Jan Ullrich distanced him by more than a minute and a half in his first Tour stage win since 1998. Alexander Vinokurov came third behind Armstrong . After the time trial, the three drivers were in the overall standings within a minute.

Thirteenth stage

Toulouse - Ax 3 Domaines : Carlos Sastre (Spa)
The first stage in the Pyrenees had the second mountain finish, but not an ultra-difficult profile, as the first 100 km were flat. A strong breakaway group was able to save itself until the last climb and the Spaniard Carlos Sastre of his Danish CSC team won the second stage. Behind them, the favorites first looked at each other until the tireless Alexander Vinokurov launched an attack three kilometers from the finish. Jan Ullrich went on to counterattack, which a battered Armstrong could no longer follow. Ullrich finished second, Armstrong was able to keep his deficit small and kept his yellow jersey with a 15 second lead over the German. Tyler Hamilton , who had ridden sensationally on the first stage despite his collarbone
prolapse , now lost time on his competitors for the first time and fell back slightly.

Fourteenth stage

Saint-Girons - Loudenvielle : Gilberto Simoni (Ita)
The second stage in the Pyrenees , a rollercoaster ride over six mountains in the first and second category, was initially characterized by a large breakaway group that was able to work out a lead of over ten minutes. From this group, three strong mountaineers, Richardirusesque , Gilberto Simoni and Laurent Dufaux , who stayed together until the last ascent and made the victory in the valley among themselves, finally separated. In the sprint, the up to then disappointing tour co-favorite Simoni prevailed over Dufaux. Virusque was able to check off his sixth dotted jersey as won after the stage. Meanwhile there were numerous attacks from the circle of favorites at Col de Peyresourde , the last pass of the day. When the third-placed Vinokurov attacked, Ullrich and Armstrong only concentrated on each other and let the Kazakhs go, who was almost able to take over the yellow jersey . Before the last real mountain stage, Armstrong, Ullrich and Vinokurow were now only 18 seconds apart, a unique constellation in the history of the Tour de France .

Fifteenth stage

Bagnères de Bigorre - Luz-Ardiden : Lance Armstrong (USA)
On the second queen stage of the tour over the legendary Col du Tourmalet and at the end of the mountain arrival up to Luz-Ardiden (both climbs of the heaviest category) the heat that the tour had had accompanied over two weeks, forgave. Jan Ullrich attacked surprisingly early in the long ascent to Col du Tourmalet and was able to put a few meters ahead between himself and his competitor Lance Armstrong . The four-time tour winner came up again, but Alexander Vinokurov had to let go. On the descent, the Kazakh was able to catch up again, so that a small, high-ranking group drove into the final and decisive climb of the 2003 Tour de France. Armstrong drove an attack for the first time that only Mayo and Ullrich could follow, but crashed spectacularly, but luckily, lightly, when his handlebars got caught in the bag of one of the countless fans. Mayo also fell over the wearer of the yellow jersey, Ullrich was able to swerve and continue, but waited in the small leading group for the return of his big competitor. Armstrong actually quickly caught up with the leading group and countered an attack by Iban Mayo a little later. This time no one could follow him. His arrival was a reminder of his successes in previous years. He was able to put around 40 seconds between himself and his pursuers to the finish. Ullrich crossed the finish line in third at the same time as the Euskaltel riders Mayo and Zubeldia and was now 1:07 minutes behind the American, who came a great deal closer to his fifth tour victory with this terrific stage success. Vinokurov lost over two minutes, but consolidated his third place overall.

Sixteenth stage

Pau - Bayonne : Tyler Hamilton (USA)
The formal last stage of the Pyrenees in the Basque Country after the day of rest brought only one change in the overall standings: Tyler " broken collarbone " Hamilton was able to push himself forward a little with an impressive solo ride of almost 90 km, but moved ahead especially the third stage win for the CSC team of the former Danish tour winner Bjarne Riis .

Seventeenth and eighteenth stages

17th stage : Dax - Bordeaux : Servais Knaven (NL)
18th stage : Bordeaux - Saint-Maixent-l'École : Pablo Lastras (Spa)
Two completely flat stages parallel to the Atlantic , each with a typical one for the third week of the tour Course of the race: A large group of drivers who were beaten in the overall standings pulled away and gained a very large lead. The stage to Bordeaux, a city that actually prefers sprint finishes, was won by the Dutchman Servais Knaven after he had broken away from his runaways, who were unable to organize a proper pursuit, around 15 km from the finish. The next day, Pablo Lastras won the sprint of three drivers ahead of the French Carlos Da Cruz and the Italian telecom driver Daniele Nardello . It was remarkable that Jan Ullrich was able to catch up two seconds on Lance Armstrong in the first intermediate sprint one day before the last time trial .

Nineteenth stage

Pornic - Nantes : David Millar (Sco)
The last - and for the first time since 1989 tour decisive - time trial over 49 flat kilometers took place in partly pouring rain. Almost half of all racing drivers fell accordingly on the track. However, all concentration was on the two protagonists of the 2003 tour, Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong , who took to the track every three minutes. Ullrich, who had to catch up 1:05 minutes, was five seconds faster right from the start, but after that the gap remained constant for a long time. On the last ten kilometers, which were extremely dangerous due to the many changes of direction on a wet track, Ullrich fell in a right turn and did not lose the tour, because the overall victory was probably no longer within reach at this point, but at least his second stage victory after Ullrich had been on the best time course from the start. Ullrich crossed the finish line in fourth, Armstrong took no more risks and finished the time trial in third. The winner was David Millar from Scotland , who had already passed the stage win by a fraction of a second during the prologue. Alexander Vinokurow consolidated his third place overall, Tyler Hamilton overtook the two Euskaltel drivers Zubeldia and Iban Mayo and came in fourth overall.

Twentieth stage

Ville d'Avray - Paris : Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra)
The "Tour d'honneur", the traditional lap of honor on the Parisian Avenue des Champs-Élysées , took place for the fifth time in a row in honor of Lance Armstrong , who was five times the other Winners Jacques Anquetil , Eddy Merckx , Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain were able to move into the pantheon of cycling . When the obligatory champagne glass was slurped out, there was (almost) always a mass sprint in the heart of Paris. The two Australian opponents in the fight for the green jersey , Robbie McEwen and Baden Cooke , each won an intermediate sprint once and pushed their way to the finish line to the limit of what was allowed. In the end, Baden Cooke was a short bike length ahead. The French sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon surprisingly snatched the prestigious victory on the Champs-Elysées from under their noses.