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Vinokourov sees a two-man race, now

Alexander Vinokourov saw his Tour de France chances severely dented when he finished more than two minutes behind dfending champion Lance Armstrong in the 15th stage on Monday. The Kazakh lies third overall, 2:45 behind Armstrong, but he has vowed to keep fighting and wished his former Telekom team chief Jan Ullrich good luck. "The last climb was very hard," he said of the 13.5 km ride from the foot of the mountain to Luz-Ardiden. "But it was even worse on the Tourmalet," added Vinokourov, who was dropped on the way to the renowned Pyrénées summit, the penultimate climb of the day.

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By Reuters

Vino' after arriving at Luz-Ardiden

Vino’ after arriving at Luz-Ardiden

Photo: Graham Watson

Alexander Vinokourov saw his Tour de France chances severely dented when he finished more than two minutes behind dfending champion Lance Armstrong in the 15th stage on Monday. The Kazakh lies third overall, 2:45 behind Armstrong, but he has vowed to keep fighting and wished his former Telekom team chief Jan Ullrich good luck. “The last climb was very hard,” he said of the 13.5 km ride from the foot of the mountain to Luz-Ardiden. “But it was even worse on the Tourmalet,” added Vinokourov, who was dropped on the way to the renowned Pyrénées summit, the penultimate climb of the day. “I’m paying for all my efforts so far in the Tour. Everybody can have a bad day and it’s not so terrible,” he said. “But I really must thank my teammates. I owe them a lot,” added Vinokourov, stage winner in Gap a week ago, who was brought back by Giuseppe Guerini and Santiago Botero when he starting to drift back. With a last mountain stage between Pau and Bayonne on Wednesday after the rest day, Vinokourov said he would try again. “I’m not desperate and I will try to keep attacking like I’ve done since the start,” he said. But the Telekom leader, silver-medalist behind Ullrich in the road race at the Sydney Olympics, confessed that the Tour now looks like a race between his former teammate and four-time champion Armstrong. “I wish good luck to Jan, who is a very close friend of mine,” he said. “He’s very strong right now and probably at his very best ever. As for Armstrong, he’s not too far from his best either now.”