Rest Day Report; Keeping limber before the final week

A rest day leg-loosener for a professional bicycle racer in the Tour deFrance is a hard weekend ride for most people. Lance Armstrong, hiseight U.S. Postal Service teammates and actor Robin Williams set out ona 90km, two-hour “spin” through the countryside of Vaucluse on Monday.After about 30 minutes, Williams took a right turn and flew back to Hollywood. Armstrong kept on pushing to keep his legs limber as he goes into thefinal stretch of his run for a fourth consecutive Tour de France victory. The dust settled Monday following the fireworks on Mont Ventoux. Armstrongset a new record of 58

By Andrew Hood

A rest day leg-loosener for a professional bicycle racer in the Tour deFrance is a hard weekend ride for most people. Lance Armstrong, hiseight U.S. Postal Service teammates and actor Robin Williams set out ona 90km, two-hour “spin” through the countryside of Vaucluse on Monday.After about 30 minutes, Williams took a right turn and flew back to Hollywood.

Armstrong kept on pushing to keep his legs limber as he goes into thefinal stretch of his run for a fourth consecutive Tour de France victory.

The dust settled Monday following the fireworks on Mont Ventoux. Armstrongset a new record of 58 minutes for the 21km climb to the barren, windsweptsummit, shaving 53 seconds off the mark he and Marco Pantani set in 2000.

While Armstrong basked in the yellow jersey after nearly doubling hislead over second-place Joseba Beloki to 4 minutes, 21 seconds, the othersin the Tour de France vowed to fight on.

Armstrong on the defensive
Three hard mountain stages loom in the French Alps. Tuesday’s226.5km stage 15 is the longest in this year’s Tour and ends on LesDeux-Alpes, the lesser cousin of Alpe d’Huez, just across the RomancheValley.

Wednesday’s stage 16 features the highest point of this year’s Tour– the 2645-meter (8677-foot) Col du Galibier — and crosses the 2000-meter(6562-foot) Col de la Madeleine before finishing on the beyond-categoryLa Plagne.

Thursday’s stage 17 features three Cat. 1 climbs and one Cat. 2 beforefinishing in Cluses.

Sounds tough, but which stage gives Armstrong a little bit of a fear?It’s Friday’s stage 18 featuring seven difficult medium-rated climbs. They’renot the Alps, but it could prove troublesome for any rider at the end oftheir strength.

“I look to the stage after the Alps. That is a hard day,” Armstrongsaid. “There is not one mile that is flat. There are seven or eight hardclimbs. It could be hot, long. Those are the days that worry me.”

Armstrong said he and his U.S. Postal Service team can ride defensivelythrough the Alps. With a comfortable lead, Armstrong said he won’t be forcedto attack.

“I think the smart thing to do is to ride conservative in the Alps,”Armstrong said. “The Tour is not a race to win by as many minutes as possible.It’s a race just to win. There is no need to be aggressive.”

Final fight for podium
ONCE’s Joseba Beloki tried to attack Armstrong in Sunday’s climbin Mont Ventoux. It didn’t last long before Armstrong shot past him, butat least he tried.

“I will now fight to keep my second place,” said Beloki, who’s beensurprisingly strong throughout the first three climbing stages of thisyear’s Tour. “We went to the moon on Mont Ventoux and we saw Armstronglike an astronaut.”

Beloki conceded his chances for overall victory but vowed to keep fighting.ONCE’s Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano continues to show surprising strengthin the mountains and sits in fourth place overall 8:36 back.

The main competition for Beloki – who’s finished third in the past twoTours — will come from Raimondas Rumsas, a strong Lithuanian onthe Lampre-Daikin team who is sitting in third overall at 6:39, just overtwo minutes behind Beloki.

“Armstrong showed one more time he’s the strongest,” Rumsas said. “Thereis still a week left in the race, so we’ll see what happens. I am stillhoping, but for me I see myself on the podium in second place. I felt goodin the Pyrénées and I hope it will be the same in the Alps.I will keep pushing at the maximum.”

The fight for the podium will likely be one of the most interestingstory lines in the final week of the Tour. There are five riders from fifth-placeFrancisco Mancebo (Banesto), 10:49 back, to ninth-place Levi Leipheimer(Rabobank), at 12:54, within nearly two minutes of each other.

There’s still a chance for those riders to challenge for the final podiumspot in Paris, especially if the ONCE riders suffer in the Alps.

Oscar Sevilla (Kelme), eighth at 12:45, said he expects his legsto feel better in the Alps. “I have to say I am a little disappointed howI rode in the Pyrénées. I was expecting more,” Sevilla said.“I felt better on Ventoux, but I didn’t have the strength to go with thebest. I was almost there. I like the longer mountain stages so I stillhave some chances to make something at this Tour.”

Leipheimer continues to show steady strength as the Tour enters itsthird and decisive week. On Sunday at Mont Ventoux, Leipheimer said hedidn’t try to follow the lead group when it accelerated on the lower, butvery steep climbing section through the woods. The American said he laterfound his legs and nearly caught on to the Armstrong group when the Texanput down his attack. Still, Leipheimer finished strong in 11th place, 4:25back, just 2:05 behind Armstrong.

Also Monday, 54 riders from seven teams had their blood levels testedin the morning. None were deemed “unfit” to ride. Riders’ blood is regularlyscreened to test hematocrit levels in their blood systems. High countsindicate the presence of EPO, a banned blood-doping product. So far, noblood or urine tests have come back negative since the Tour started July6.

OVERALL – After 14 stages1. Lance Armstrong (USA), U.S. Postal, at 56:51:39.
2. Joseba Beloki (Spa), ONCE, at at 04:21.
3. Raimondas Rumsas (Lit), Lampre Daikin, at 06:39.
4. Igor Gonzalez Galdeano (Spa), ONCE, at 08:36.
5. Francisco Mancebo (Spa),, at 10:49.
6. Jose Azevedo (Por), ONCE, at 10:57.
7. Roberto Heras (Spa), U.S. Postal, at 11:35.
8. Oscar Sevilla (Spa), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 12:45.
9. Levy Leipheimer (USA), Rabobank, at 12:54.
10. Richard Virenque (F), Domo-Farm Frites, at 13:12.
11. Ivan Basso (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 13:56.
12. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis, at 14:44.
13. Carlos Sastre (Spa), CSC-Tiscali, at 16:17.
14. Andrei Kivilev (Kaz), Cofidis, at 17:28.
15. Beat Zberg (Swi), Rabobank, at 17:41.
16. Stephane Goubert (F), Jean Delatour, at 18:12.
17. Michael Boogerd (Nl), Rabobank, at 18:33.
18. Santiago Botero (Col), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 18:36.
19. Tyler Hamilton (USA), CSC-Tiscali, at 18:59.
20. Massimiliano Lelli (I), Cofidis, at 19:12.
21. Nicolas Vogondy (F),, at 20:01.
22. Unai Osa (Spa),, at 21:00.
23. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 21:45.
24. Wladimir Belli (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 22:46.
25. Jean-Cyril Robin (F),, at 23:06.
26. Marcos Serrano (Spa), ONCE, at 24:19.
27. Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa), U.S. Postal, at 24:37.
28. Ivan Gotti (I), Alessio, at 25:05.
29. Axel Merckx (B), Domo-Farm Frites, at 25:55.
30. Bobby Julich (USA), Telekom, at 26:10.
31. Nicki Sorensen (Den), CSC-Tiscali, at 26:20.
32. Piotr Wadecki (Pol), Domo-Farm Frites, at 26:48.
33. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol),, at 28:10.
34. Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Spa), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 28:52.
35. Laurent Brochard (F), Jean Delatour, at 28:58.
36. Laurent Jalabert (F), CSC-Tiscali, at 29:04.
37. Laurent Lefevre (F), Jean Delatour, at 29:13.
38. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 29:16.
39. Laurent Dufaux (Swi), Alessio, at 30:12.
40. Dario Frigo (I), Tacconi Sport, at 30:20.
41. Christophe Moreau (F), Credit Agricole, at 31:21.
42. Christophe Brandt (B), Lotto-Adecco, at 31:31.
43. Kevin Livingston (USA), Telekom, at 31:49.
44. Isidro Nozal (Spa), ONCE, at 32:46.
45. Jorg Jaksche (G), ONCE, at 33:24.
46. Volodomir Gustov (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo, at 36:47.
47. Grischa Niermann (G), Rabobank, at 40:28.
48. Inigo Chaurreau (Spa), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 42:23.
49. Andrea Peron (I), CSC-Tiscali, at 44:33.
50. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), U.S. Postal, at 47:08.
51. Marco Velo (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 47:15.
52. Floyd Landis (USA), U.S. Postal, at 48:48.
53. Santiago Blanco (Spa),, at 49:43.
54. Miguel Martinez (F), Mapei-Quick Step, at 50:52.
55. Sylvain Chavanel (F), Bonjour, at 53:47.
56. David Millar (Gbr), Cofidis, at 55:52.
57. Marzio Bruseghin (I),, at 57:18.
58. Roberto Laiseka (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 57:20.
59. George Hincapie (USA), U.S. Postal, at 59:08.
60. Gerhard Trampusch (A), Mapei-Quick Step, at 59:30.
61. Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), Lotto-Adecco, at 1:00:46.
62. Cristian Moreni (I), Alessio, at 1:01:06.
63. Inigo Cuesta (Spa), Cofidis, at 1:01:33.
64. Marco Serpellini (I), Lampre Daikin, at 1:03:42.
65. Dave Bruylandts (B), Domo-Farm Frites, at 1:04:20.
66. Rolf Aldag (G), Telekom, at 1:04:29.
67. Udo Bolts (G), Telekom, at 1:05:04.
68. Tomas Konecny (Cze), Domo-Farm Frites, at 1:05:20.
69. Jerome Pineau (F), Bonjour, at 1:06:08.
70. Patrice Halgand (F), Jean Delatour, at 1:06:20.
71. Daniel Atienza (Spa), Cofidis, at 1:06:39.
72. Abraham Olano (Spa), ONCE, at 1:07:55.
73. Serguei Ivanov (Rus), Fassa Bortolo, at 1:08:06.
74. Pavel Padrnos (Cze), U.S. Postal, at 1:08:11.
75. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, at 1:08:24.
76. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr), Fassa Bortolo, at 1:08:40.
77. David Etxebarria (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:09:17.
78. Gianluca Bortolami (I), Tacconi Sport, at 1:09:28.
79. Franck Renier (F), Bonjour, at 1:09:29.
80. Mario Aerts (B), Lotto-Adecco, at 1:09:31.
81. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa),, at 1:10:23.
82. David Latasa (Spa),, at 1:11:42.
83. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Credit Agricole, at 1:13:04.
84. Bingen Fernandez (Spa), Cofidis, at 1:13:09.
85. Mikel Pradera (Spa), ONCE, at 1:14:01.
86. Denis Menchov (Rus),, at 1:14:56.
87. Victor Hugo Pena (Col), U.S. Postal, at 1:15:16.
88. Anthony Morin (F), Credit Agricole, at 1:16:30.
89. Marc Wauters (B), Rabobank, at 1:17:05.
90. Benoit Joachim (Lux), U.S. Postal, at 1:17:37.
91. Christophe Edaleine (F), Jean Delatour, at 1:18:11.
92. Giuseppe Guerini (I), Telekom, at 1:18:22.
93. Danilo Hondo (G), Telekom, at 1:18:33.
94. Steffen Wesemann (G), Telekom, at 1:19:06.
95. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Mapei-Quick Step, at 1:19:46.
96. Cedric Vasseur (F), Cofidis, at 1:20:31.
97. Jerome Bernard (F), Jean Delatour, at 1:22:54.
98. Frederic Bessy (F), Credit Agricole, at 1:23:44.
99. Andy Flickinger (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 1:24:12.
100. Bradley McGee (Aus),, at 1:24:18.
101. Robert Hunter (Rsa), Mapei-Quick Step, at 1:25:11.
102. Ludovic Turpin (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 1:26:32.
103. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Tacconi Sport, at 1:26:47.
104. Walter Beneteau (F), Bonjour, at 1:27:15.
105. Emmanuel Magnien (F), Bonjour, at 1:29:03.
106. Christophe Mengin (F),, at 1:30:06.
107. Andrea Tafi (I), Mapei-Quick Step, at 1:30:21.
108. Pedro Horillo (Spa), Mapei-Quick Step, at 1:30:57.
109. Jens Voigt (G), Credit Agricole, at 1:31:57.
110. Sandy Casar (F),, at 1:32:27.
111. Francisco Cabello (Spa), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 1:32:39.
112. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), Lampre Daikin, at 1:32:59.
113. Stephane Auge (F), Jean Delatour, at 1:34:14.
114. Ludo Dierckxsens (B), Lampre Daikin, at 1:35:20.
115. Franck Bouyer (F), Bonjour, at 1:35:24.
116. Gian Matteo Fagnini (I), Telekom, at 1:35:34.
117. Frederic Guesdon (F),, at 1:36:07.
118. Constantino Zaballa (Spa), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 1:36:39.
119. Nico Mattan (B), Cofidis, at 1:37:33.
120. Serge Baguet (B), Lotto-Adecco, at 1:37:34.
121. Paul Van Hyfte (B), CSC-Tiscali, at 1:37:48.
122. Cyril Dessel (F), Jean Delatour, at 1:38:23.
123. Iban Mayo (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:39:29.
124. Addy Engels (Nl), Rabobank, at 1:39:34.
125. Andrea Brognara (I), Alessio, at 1:39:44.
126. Baden Cooke (Aus),, at 1:41:19.
127. Nicola Loda (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 1:41:51.
128. Enrico Cassani (I), Domo-Farm Frites, at 1:41:55.
129. Robbie McEwen (Aus), Lotto-Adecco, at 1:44:55.
130. Jan Svorada (Cze), Lampre Daikin, at 1:44:58.
131. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Lampre Daikin, at 1:44:59.
132. Thierry Loder (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 1:45:52.
133. Jakob Piil (Den), CSC-Tiscali, at 1:46:22.
134. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Domo-Farm Frites, at 1:48:18.
135. Massimo Donati (I), Tacconi Sport, at 1:48:53.
136. Mauro Radaelli (I), Tacconi Sport, at 1:49:10.
137. Christophe Oriol (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 1:50:01.
138. Jose Angel Vidal (Spa), Kelme-Costa Blanca, at 1:50:26.
139. Vicente Garcia-Acosta (Spa),, at 1:50:54.
140. Massimo Apollonio (I), Tacconi Sport, at 1:51:29.
141. Hans De Clercq (B), Lotto-Adecco, at 1:51:56.
142. Karsten Kroon (Nl), Rabobank, at 1:51:57.
143. Alessandro Cortinovis (I), Lampre Daikin, at 1:52:25.
144. Servais Knaven (Nl), Domo-Farm Frites, at 1:53:29.
145. Unai Etxebarria (Ven), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:53:50.
146. Fabio Baldato (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 1:54:12.
147. Leon Van Bon (Nl), Domo-Farm Frites, at 1:54:56.
148. Davide Casarotto (I), Alessio, at 1:55:00.
149. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole, at 1:55:17.
150. Gorka Arrizabalaga (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:55:29.
151. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, at 1:55:40.
152. Sebastien Hinault (F), Credit Agricole, at 1:55:41.
153. Martin Hvastija (Slo), Alessio, at 1:58:11.
154. Thierry Marichal (B), Lotto-Adecco, at 1:58:43.
155. Eddy Seigneur (F), Jean Delatour, at 1:59:42.
156. Anthony Langella (F), Credit Agricole, at 2:01:48.
157. Christophe Agnolutto (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 2:03:27.
158. Jimmy Casper (F),, at 2:04:40.
159. Erik Dekker (Nl), Rabobank, at 2:06:19.
160. Damien Nazon (F), Bonjour, at 2:06:23.
161. Arvis Piziks (Lat), CSC-Tiscali, at 2:12:09.
162. Igor Flores (Spa), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 2:13:20.
163. Stephane Berges (F), Ag2R Prevoyance, at 2:27:59.