Monday, July 18, 2005


TdF Stage 15: By George!

AMERICAN HEIR APPARENT? This was the most anticipated stage of the race, with five Category 1 climbs before a "Beyond Category" finish. This was to be the heartbreaker or champion-maker. So it was. But the drama was different than expected. While Lance concentrated on marking his rivals--Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich--his teammate, big George Hincapie found himself in 14-man escape group that gained over 12 minutes ahead of the main peloton. He remained at the front on climb after climb, even as the breakaway group dwindled on the punishing climbs. It dwindled to two: Hincapie and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak). But at the finish line there was only one: Hincapie won his first Tour stage on the hardest stage and sparked rumors that he may be the "heir apparent" to next year's Discovery Channel leadership. Armstrong finished with Basso, who again has proven the only rider who can match him in the Pyrenees.

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