Dauphine 4: Stunning Ventoux win for Mayo

Winner on the opening day, Iban Mayo takes an ever more satisfactory victory in the Ventoux time tri

Winner on the opening day, Iban Mayo takes an ever more satisfactory victory in the Ventoux time tri
Iban Mayo has boosted his prospects for the Tour de France with a stunning time trial victory on Mont Ventoux, setting for the fourth stage of the Dauphin Libr. Winner of several races in May including the Tour of Asturias, Mayo had subsequently said that he had plenty of room for improvement, and showed that in spades on the Ventoux where he finished the 21.6-kilometre course in a time of 55-51. Tyler Hamilton took second with a time of 56-26, while his Spanish team-mate Oscar Sevilla showed more signs of his recent resurgence by coming in third in 56-54. Almost as surprising as the scale of Mayo's victory over many likely Tour de France contenders was defending Dauphin and Tour champion Lance Armstrong's deficit. He was only two seconds away from a two-minute beating by Mayo, and finished behind yet another Spaniard, Juan Miguel Mercado. Although he came to the Dauphin saying he was not riding to win, he surely won't be happy at seeing some of the most likely challengers for his Tour crown receive such a huge confidence boost. Early in the day it had seemed that a time of an hour or slightly better for the climb from Bedoin would be good enough to be right in contention. Armstrong's team-mate Floyd Landis equalled the hour mark, edging Michael Rogers out of top spot, but within five minutes Mercado had lopped almost two and a half minutes off Landis' mark, recording 57-39. Half an hour later, Sevilla finished just four seconds slower than the Ventoux record of 56-50 set by Jonathan Vaughters in 1999. Ten minutes that record was momentarily Hamilton's. But Mayo had been the fastest at all of the intermediate checks and came in almost a minute inside Vaughters' five-year-old best. His time gave him the leader's jersey at Jos Enrique Gutierrez's expense, with Hamilton second at 36 seconds, Sevilla third at 1-14, and Armstrong dead on two minutes behind the Basque in fourth. This result will certainly lead to a huge amount of speculation about Armstrong's prospects of taking a sixth Tour title, as well as some considerable bigging up of Mayo. But the Tour is still a month away, and Mayo still has to negotiate two very tough days in the Alps during this race yet. And once again this year the question has to be asked about whether Mayo has reached his peak too soon. If he comes away victorious from the Dauphin and claiming he still has more to give, then he really will be shaping up as a serious contender for the Tour title. Stage 4, Bedoin-Mont Ventoux 1 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 21.6km in 55.51 (23.20kph) 2 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak 0.35 3 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Phonak 1.03 4 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step 1.48 5 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 1.58 6 I¤igo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel 2.23 7 Jos Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak 2.44 8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 3.21 9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 3.33 10 Stphane Goubert (Fra) Ag2r 3.36 14 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal 4.09 17 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 4.45 33 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal 7.03 51 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 9.16 76 David Millar (GB) Cofidis 12.16 79 Baden Cooke (Aus) fdjeux.com 12.31 83 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis 13.01 Overall standings 1 Iban Mayo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 16.27.51 2 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak 0.36 3 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Phonak 1.14 4 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal 2.00 5 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step 2.32 6 Jos Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Phonak 2.36 7 I¤igo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel 2.43 8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 3.33 9 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 3.47 10 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak 3.58 16 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal 4.59 33 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 9.22 37 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 10.05 49 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal 15.36 61 Baden Cooke (Aus) fdjeux.com 21.09 68 David Millar (GB) Cofidis 23.37 81 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis 33.00

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