Vinokourov keeps up pressure on Armstrong

The T-Mobile rider took off in a group of seven on the lower slopes of the Madeleine, the first of two monster climbs on the 173-kilometre (107.5-mile) stage. Shedding his companions one by one, Vinokourov had the honour of being the first rider to reach the summit of the Galibier climb, at 2,645 metres above sea level.

Caught by the Colombian Santiago Botero shortly afterwards on the ensuing 40km plunge down to Briancon, Vinokourov only faltered slightly when a timing device on his bike broke off its support and began wiggling its way down the frame towards the back wheel. Rather than slow Vinokourov's 80kph [50mph] descent, a team mechanic simply leaned out of the back window of a following team car and chopped off the offending instrumen. Vinokourov won the final sprint against Botero by several bike lengths.

Vinokourov explained that the aim of his attack and ensuing stage win was "to give back some morale to the team". "I attacked so early because I knew Lance's squad would lay down too strong a pace on the Galibier for anybody to get away."

The 31-year-old's prediction proved accurate. Escorted by no less than four team riders at the front of a 20-strong lead group, Armstrong was never troubled by the slightest challenge to his authority on the 18km climb. The one attack, by the Dane Mickael Rasmussen at the summit was merely to mop up a few more points for his lead in the King of the Mountains competition.

If Rasmussen, the only rider remaining at less than a minute to Armstrong overall, has appeared to succumb to the American's regime, Vinokourov, now 4min 47sec back, has yet to rule out winning the Tour.

"You never know what will happen in the Pyrenees." he said. "I might yet go for the yellow. I still have faith."

The Tour's last major Alpine stage proved too much for the German Jens Voigt, who held the yellow jersey for one day. The CSC rider finished the stage 41sec outside the maximum timeand was eliminated.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for 'Cycling Weekly'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border