letour2003.gif Wow, a surprisingly interesting day… during the course of the race, Lance lost the lead and regained it. And then an ONCE cyclist in contention attacked on the final climb of the stage, Lance and Beloki, his biggest rival, chased and just 4km from the finish Beloki crashed coming fast around a curve in a clearly painful slam into the pavement. Lance also slid on the curve, barely managed to get around him and off the road and then had to ride across a field of hay, hop off his bike, jump over a ditch and get back on the road and on his bike!

Here’s how it unfolded live on VeloNews:

4:48 p.m. Beloki has crashed!
Armstrong has been forced off the road!
Beloki is hurt.

4:49 p.m. Wow...
Armstrong pulled off an amazing feat of bike handling. He rode across the dirt on a hairpin turn.
Beloki, however, is probably out of the Tour. He is hurt.

4:51 p.m. Vinokourov is on his way to the win.
Folks, that Armstrong move is one you are bound to see on replay films for years. He found himself running across the dirt like a 'cross rider.
Beloki, however, is still on the side of the road.

It’s too bad a real contender like Beloki had to end his Tour this way, but it all but cinches it for Lance. Ullrich is still there but he has been unable to keep up with Lance on any of the climbs. And another American, Tyler Hamilton, who is riding with a broken collarbone (!) after a crash in Stage 1, may have a shot at 2nd or 3rd in Paris!

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