Lance Armstrong moves into second place overall
Lance Armstrong moves into second place overall

Basso Edges Armstrong For Stage 12 Win; Padrnos May Be Banned

Lance Armstrong moves into second place overall

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CSC’s Ivan Basso beat Lance Armstrong to the finish line by less than a bike length Friday to score his first Tour de France stage win. The 123-mile Stage 12, from Castelsarrasin to La Mongie, proved to be a grueling one with a number of riders dropping from the main pack and top Tour contenders Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and Tyler Hamilton (Phonak) struggling through the day. Andrée;as Klöden (T-Mobile), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto), and Carlos Sastre (CSC) rounded out the top five in the stage standings.

Lance Armstrong moves into second place overall

Lance Armstrong moves into second place overall Lance Armstrong moves into second place overall

French National Champion Thomas Voeckler (Brioches La Boulangere) also struggled, but kept fighting his way back to the main pack to finish 41st, 3:59 behind Basso, to hold on to the yellow jersey for yet another day. With Armstrong’s second place finish, he moves into second in the overall standings while Basso’s first place finish moves him into sixth place overall. Ullrich, who finished 20th, now stands at 16th overall while Hamilton, who finished 34th, now stands at 20th in the general classification standings.

Two main climbs were the crux of Friday’s race. The first was Col d’Aspin, an ascent nearly eight miles long that boasts a 6.3 percent grade, while the Col du Tourmalet, a 9.3-mile climb at about eight percent, led to the finish line of the stage.

A slew of attacks were executed early in the stage, but the charge by Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo), Marcus Ljungqvist (Alessio-Bianchi), Wim Vansevenant (Lotto), and Frederic Finot (RAGT-Semences) was the only one to stick. While the leaders were able to build up a lead of about 4:30 with 78 miles left to go in the race, the riders were caught as they approached the Col d’Aspin climb.

U.S. Postal led the pack for much of Col d’Aspin, but there was a scare in which Armstrong and company fell slightly behind Ullrich on the descent. As the peloton approached the Col du Tourmalet, however, U.S. Postal kicked it into high gear with Josée; Azevedo leading Armstrong up the steeps while Basso and Andreas Klöden rode close on their wheels. An attack by Sastre put him out front, but wasn’t enough to keep him far ahead of the rest of the group. When Azevedo cracked on the climb, both Armstrong and Basso were able to catch and leave Sastre behind with just over a mile to go.

Armstrong and Basso peddled side by side through the final 1,600 feet of the race, but at the last second, a burst of energy put Basso in the lead, giving him the win.

In other news, organizers for the Tour de France are reportedly looking to ban U.S. Postal rider Pavel Padrnos because of his suspected involvement in a doping case. A Friday AP report stated that the case, which also involved Stefano Zanini of Quick Step Davitamon, has been turned over to the Council of Professional Cycling and a decision to ban the riders from the Tour could go into effect as early as Saturday.

According to the report, Tour organizers discovered that Padros and Zanini were recently called to appear in court in October regarding suspected performance-enhancing drug use during the 2001 Tour of Italy. A potential ban for the riders could be implemented in accordance with a new rule made by Tour organizers prior to this year’s race—namely that any riders implicated or questioned in conjunction with official doping investigations would not be allowed to compete in the Tour.