As the Tour de France edges closer to Paris, the sprinters get more nervous with every kilometer that passes under their wheels. Five-time sprint points winner Erik Zabel is one of those men, as for the first time in his reign he is not wearing the green jersey entering the final weekend. He trails 11 points behind Stuart O’Grady, whose consistency over the first 18 stages has given him the lead despite his not winning any stages. Zabel won two stages in the first week, and the German may have to win one of the last two stages if he is to get the better of his Australian rival.
If Zabel is
Quite a few of you have asked that we not reveal the winner in the headline or first paragraph, so if you don't want be surprised as you work your way through our now-not-so-live updates click HERE to work up from the bottom and follow the race from the start.
Here is a provisional top-ten list for the day.
1. ZABEL Erik GER TEL In 3:12:27; 2. O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A; 3. VAINSTEINS Romans LAT DFF; 4. TEUTENBERG Sven GER FES; 5. SVORADA Jan SLO LAM; 6. PETACCHI Alessandro ITA FAS; 7. NAZON Damien FRA BJR; 8. SIVAKOV Alexei RUS BIG; 9. CAPELLE Christophe FRA BIG; 10. CASPER
Stage Winner: Erik Zabel (G), Deutsche Telekom, 149km in 3:12:27---------------------------------- Overall Lead: Lance Armstrong (USA) U.S. Postal Service Sprinter: Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole Climber: Laurent Jalabert (F) CSC-Tiscali Under 25: Oscar Sevilla (Sp) Kelme-Costa Blanca
Click below for full results and overall.
Face it. The race for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France has been pretty much over for a week. No matter how many times someone has said, “Anything can happen,” the fact remained that Lance Armstrong put a stranglehold on the race lead in the mountain stages which concluded last week.
And Friday, he put the final exclamation mark on his win by putting in another dominant performance in the final individual time trial. But while the race between Armstrong and Jan Ullrich has been put to rest, there’s still another compelling battle that will come down to the final day in Paris.
VeloNews photographer Casey Gibson's daily photo diary from the Tour de France.