PLA D'ADET, France -- Lance Armstrong posted another
impressive mountain-stage victory Saturday and took the overall
lead in the Tour de France in quest of his third straight title.
Armstrong's lead over his main rival, Jan Ullrich of Germany,
grew to 5 minutes, 13 seconds, after his third win on this year's
The advantage meant that with only seven stages remaining,
Armstrong was in position to be the winner again when the race ends
at Paris July 29. Only Sunday's stage between Tarbes and
Luz-Ardiden -- the last mountain leg -- is likely to have a major
impact on the race standings.
After the stage through the Pyrenees mountains, Armstrong
changed into the leader's yellow jersey for the first time this
"We were all confident that we would get the jersey," said the
U.S. Postal Service rider, who started the stage in third place.
"The tactics worked our way."
Armstrong completed the difficult 120.47-mile stretch in
5:44:22. He was one minute faster than runner-up Ullrich, and more
than 13 minutes ahead of Frenchman Francois Simon, who started the
stage as the leader.
Armstrong, his U.S. Postal teammate Roberto Heras and Ullrich
broke from the front pack as the race approached the last of six
tough climbs. With about four miles to go, Ullrich passed between
the two U.S. Postal riders and overtook them.
Heras, from Spain, dropped back but Armstrong gave chase. A few
minutes later, he moved in front, then suddenly increased his pace,
leaving the Team Telekom rider far back. He then overtook France's
Laurent Jalabert, who had led for most of the stage, and was way
ahead of Ullrich when he finished.
It was the third time Armstrong has beaten Ullrich in the
closing stretch of a mountain stage in this year's Tour. He also
was faster than the German in an uphill time-trial in the Alps.
"I tried everything that was possible," said Ullrich, the 1997
champion. "I went to my limit, nothing more was possible. I have
to wait for a black day for Armstrong, otherwise he is
Ullrich crashed but without apparent injury in the fast ride
down the Col de Peyresourde mountain pass, the fourth climb of the
Leading Armstrong by several yards, he missed a bend to the left
and rode straight ahead, passing behind a safety barrier and down a
steep embankment. His rear wheel upended and he disappeared from
He emerged seconds later, carrying his bike over his shoulder,
and immediately resumed racing.
"I was going down at about 50 mph and my brakes weren't working
that well," Ullrich said.
He caught Armstrong a few minutes later and the two spoke
"I asked him if he was OK," said Armstrong, who slowed to
allow Ullrich to catch up. "It looked like a bad crash. I decided
that the correct thing to do was to wait."
Ullrich was fourth overall after Saturday's stage, with Simon
and Kazakstan's Andrei Kivilev between him and Armstrong.
Armstrong dedicated the win to former teammate Fabio Casartelli.
The stage took riders past a memorial marking the spot where
Casartelli fatally crashed in the 1995 Tour.
"I dedicate this victory to Casartelli," Armstrong said.
"When we passed (the memorial) today, I decided that I was going
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|The peleton snakes along the course in Saturday's 13th stage of the Tour de France.||
Armstrong has time on his side
Tour de France results -- stage 13
Tour de France: Day-by-day
Armstrong takes third to gain more ground
Has Ullrich already lost the Tour?